“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” ~ C. S. Lewis (Novelist, Lay Theologian and Christian Apologist)
During this past year, we have been reminded over and over that we do live in a broken world. We have been reminded in big ways that bad things do happen to good people. We have also seen with out own eyes or experienced ourselves the goodness of other people who reach out in huge ways at those times.
We have cried watching the news, reading the newspaper, talking to friends. And yet we still don't see even a small part of the hard things others are going through. If we did, we would really be on overload, because a lot of us just want to fix the bad things for others. We ask God for the means to help others... to help others out of bad situations. We also ask for time and wisdom to know how to help....and then we go and listen and do what we can with what God blesses us with.
There are those who say that God doesn't exist because if there was an all-powerful God, then he would be powerful enough to keep bad things from happening. They assume that A good God wouldn't want us to struggle, to hurt, to even die; after all, we certainly don't want to struggle, hurt or die but more than that we don't want to watch others struggle, hurt or die.
But we need to get a grasp on the truth we learn in the Bible. You see, part of God's plan for us is that we do hurt, we do struggle and we will die... we also get to watch others hurt, struggle and die.
In his Word, he tells us over and over that we will go through bad times especially as we read the stories in Scripture. We see how he actually takes his people through some really bad times so they learn things, mainly they learn to trust him, to depend on him, to ask him for help, for strength, for endurance.
I always think of Joseph. In all fairness, Joseph had it really rough. First he is thrown in a pit by his brothers who want their father's favorite son dead. Then one brother says they can't do that so they decide they will just sell him into slavery and tell their father that he was killed by a wild animal. Later, working as a servant, he is falsely accused of molestation and then thrown into prison, with little hope of ever getting out. Through each trial, Joseph shows that he trusts God. I'm sure there were a few "Are you sure this is the plan, Father?" and even a few "why's." But in the end when Joseph could have had a pay back to those onnery brothers, he instead chooses forgiveness and reconciliation. When his brothers told him they were sorry, his basic response was, "Forget it because it wasn't your fault. God planned the whole thing so I could in a position to not only save Egypt but save our family, God's family. It is okay."
Every time I think about his response, I think about responses I've had at times, not good. Those responses come when I'm feeling sorry for myself. When I am looking at the "negative" things in my life and all I have to do for Larry, all that I have missed out on. And then I wonder if this is a mistake. And that is not fun....actually it is pretty horrible as I sink lower and lower in my self absorption. And the world would tell me it is okay to feel like that. The world would actually tell me that a good God would never have allowed the trials of our life.
But God has shown me that a good God actually plans the "hard" times, the "rough" times, the "impossible" trials so that I can grow in Him as I trust Him. I can actually sleep well and not get hateful because the truth is "My God knew exactly what He was doing and He brought the accident into our lives because He knew what we needed to learn and how we would learn it. He knew exactly what He wanted to teach us and others as they watched.
When we go through the hard things, it is encouraging when we find out later...sometimes much later, how our story, the trials God has taken us through have helped someone else.
Several years ago I met a young woman while I was at my sisters. I had prayed for this woman for several years because of all the trials they had had in their life. But on this day she came to Roxana's to bring some food because my sister had horribly smashed a finger in a car door and was having surgery on it. I knew this was the gal Roxana had told me about and we talked for a little while and then she turned to leave. Just as she got to the bottom of the stairs she turned and said, "I know you! You were in a car accident years ago and your husband was mentally disabled from the accident. You had two toddlers then and you were pregnant with your third child!"
I must have looked confused and then said, "How do you know all of this?"
She continued, "When I was in high school, I sometimes sang at Christians Women's Clubs. You spoke at one here in Colorado Springs and I sang that day at the meeting. I have thought about your story every day of my life."
I said, "You haven't had a very easy life either. Roxana has asked me to pray often for you and your husband."
Crying, she said, "My thought every day was, if that woman could take care of her children and her husband, I can do whatever God asks me do."
What an encouragement that was to know that God used what he was doing in my life to help a young wife and mother deal with the problems in hers. One of the reasons God orchestrates the trials in our lives is so we can encourage others with the hope we have been given.
The act of writing, of sharing the circumstances, the gifts and the graces planned and carried out by my Savior and God brings joy, peace, and contentment to know that He has my life in His hands. My prayer for those who read, who share in what I continue to learn each day, many times through my weakness, is that you will be encouraged to look for God's presence and grace in your life also.
Monday, December 24, 2012
another Christmas to try to understand just what God coming down to us in flesh means in reality. Trying to just grasp that God, creator, magnificent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God came down to earth for me, for you. And what does it mean that he did that? What does it look like?
This morning, just this morning at 8 o'clock, I think I saw God....here...touching earth...
Problem is I don't look often enough for Him, because if I did, if we did, we would see Him EVERYWHERE.
A woman that I do not know except that she takes the same nutrition we do and cares about people, got me on the phone with a farmer's wife and mother of 6, ages 1-15. That conversation brought back lots of memories that I don't think about... much...a time when my kids were younger, a lot younger. A time when Larry was in a coma. A time when I hurt a lot and saw God everywhere.
I could hear the fear, the exhaustion, the dogged endurance this young wife and mother is going through. Her husband is in a coma, six months in a coma, hurt from a farm accident. He's home, but he doesn't speak, he just watches and and she thinks he listens.
She waits and that is hard, but she prays...
She longs for him to speak one word, and she prays...
She tries to help the children understand, but they don't..
What she didn't say is:
She wants his arms around her, but she feels God's arms around her...
She who once depended on him, her earthly man, now depends on HIM, her heavenly Father....for everything.
And she waits....and waits....and waits as she prays and prays and prays.
And I saw God here, on earth, in her....because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that without HIM,
she couldn't do what she has been doing for months,
she wouldn't have hope that this will all be okay.
And she could not have said, "I know this is God's plan. He has a plan and this is okay."
Lee Ann, thank you for letting me see how that baby in the manger affects our everyday lives.
Because He came down as flesh and dwells in us, we are enabled to live lives that bring honor and glory to Him because of what He does in us..
Because LOVE came down, we can know that there is more....a lot more after our time here is done.
And His peace has come to us.
We can wait because of the Christ child.
We can wait because we trust Him.
We can love because He first loved us and gave Himself for us.
He didn't take the easy route, He didn't stay in heaven where life was easy and He had it made. No, He came as a crying infant who was needy, who was humbled because of that neediness. He came in spite of how much being here would hurt. He came because He loved you, He loved me.
And so we praise and thank You, Lord. We thank You for Your work in us...whether we are "strong" or "weak," whether we are on top of the circumstances or on the bottom, whether we are "good" or "bad." Because it is always and forever Your at work in us. It doesn't matter what we do or don't do, You still love us....You are still working out Your perfect plan to bring glory to your Name.
And so God, I thank you for Your work in LeeAnn. I thank you for how you are using her. I ask that she and her six children will learn to depend on you more and more and each day passes,,,me too. Amen