“I Will Rise”

(Job 23: 13-14, The Message) “But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him?  He does what he wants, when he wants to.  He’ll complete in detail what he’s decided about me, and whatever else he determines to do.”

I hear ya, Job. 

A few years back, this was where I seemed to be lingering.  I was going through a very tough period in my life.  I had lost one of my grandfathers to Alzheimer’s Disease, one of my grandmothers was placed in a nursing home due to the same condition, my other grandmother passed away after 3 years of suffering the aftereffects of a severe stroke, and my dad was also diagnosed with early onset, rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s…as well as another type of dementia.  This all took place in a matter of months.  My inner strength was already faltering due to miscarriages and negative reports from my doctor about the condition of my reproductive system, so when the bad news just continued to pour in, I pumped the brakes and literally said to God, “What in the world??”  I was in every kind of pain…physical, emotional, spiritual and mental.  I spent a lot of time crying…just spells of hard sobs that came from a deep place of anguish…and when the crying finally ceased, I fell numb.  One day I looked at my husband and I said, “I have stopped asking God for anything.  He just does what He wants, so why even ask anymore?”  I meant it too.  I hadn’t stopped believing, or praying even…I still spoke to God regularly.  In my hurt and sorrow I would sing, “Peace, peace, wonderful peace.  Coming down from the Father above.  Sweep over my spirit, forever I pray, in fathomless billows of love.”  I would tell God how much I hurt, and I wasn’t mad…just broken and defeated.  I was absolutely in a Job-like place. 

We are human, so we get into funks like that.  We want answers and resolutions.  We get very involved in the flesh and as a result our requests become centered around our own desires and ideas of what we think is best.  Our understanding is very limited and small in comparison to God’s omniscience, so it’s extremely difficult for us to see the master plan beyond what we are experiencing.  We are blind in many ways, and instead of trusting our guide, we instead try to feel our way around.  Then we get angry or upset when we bump into things and get hurt!  So what do we do then?  We just stand there in the safest spot we can find, still and useless…and pouty. 

Well I got tired of being the useless and pouty believer, just taking up space and fulfilling obligations.  I had to trust my guide, because standing still was making me crazy!  I thought I knew what was best and I was wrong…it was time to accept that.  In my human brain I thought things like, “How can Alzheimer’s be in God’s plan for someone’s life?”  Yet in my spirit, the Lord began to whisper His truths, the truths of His word, and it was brining me back to life.

8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.

    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so my ways are higher than your ways

    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. 

(Isaiah 55: 8-9, The Message)

The truth is, we do not always know what He is doing through these things that happen…you know, the things we just don’t understand.  However, as hard as it is at times to walk in faith, there is peace when we trust Him.  Romans 15: 13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  We are not promised understanding; we are entitled to nothing.  Our faith is a work in progress, but it begins with trust.  Without that, our faith is dead.  In these days, which are likely the last, we are being watched by the world.  Our actions, reactions, and all of the words we speak in faith are being observed.  Let us be ever mindful that what we say we believe is what we must live

(Hebrews 12: 1-4) 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when I hurt, help me to remember that You have suffered the greatest anguish.  Help me to trust You, always, so that I live a life of joy and peace…reflecting Your strength and love to the world.  Amen.

I Had Heard, But Now I See!

(Job 42:1-6 ESV) 1 Then Job answered the LORD and said: 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ 5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Many years ago, there was a commercial on TV that used the tagline, “Try Kelloggs Cornflakes again for the very first time!” It was an intelligent way to entice individuals to reevaluate a well known and very popular breakfast cereal. It worked. The commercial was well received and it accomplished its goal of increasing the sales of the product.

The book of Job is a laborious read. It is an extremely important document that reveals theology unlike any other book in the Bible. Job is not a book that can be quickly read and understood. It takes time, and scholarly commentary is often helpful. With that said, there are many obvious points of interest that can be understood even by a child!

Without rehearsing the whole storyline, let’s agree that Job’s experience with God was one that took him from the height of prosperity, to the depth of dispair, and back again to blessing. He was very rich. He had impressive flocks. A loving wife. Great kids. He was well known, greatly respected, and righteous in the eyes of the Lord. He lost it all. Even his health.

But the wonderful thing about this historical account is that through it all, Job remained faithful; he maintained his integrity. After this lengthy, and difficult trial Job declares that his former knowledge of God was based more on what he had been told rather than personal experience. He said, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear…”  In other words,… Daddy told me. Momma told me. The preacher said it was so. My Sunday School teacher reinforced it. Ooh, I heard through grapevine…

I have good news and bad news. Bad news first… Are you ready? God will allow you to be tested, sometimes severely, so you can know him as never before. There is some knowledge you can only obtain by experiencing difficulty. You must taste the bitterness of tears before you can enjoy the sweetness fo victory. That’s just the way life is. But the good news is, God reveals his strength during our weakness. And when we come through the hard times, we will have a new and exciting knowledge of God’s power.

Job finishes his thought by saying, “but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job now has first hand knowledge of God’s mercy. We often acknowledge that Job was blessed in his last days even more than in his younger years. But, I would suggest that the greatest blessing was the new revelation of God that came through overcoming his terrible circumstances. As faithful as Job was, God proved to be even more faithful.

PRAYER: I’ve been through many difficult things in my short lifetime. But you have always proven yourself faithful. With each victory I have experienced a new level of spiritual understanding. Thank you that I have seen you at your best! amen.

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