Monday, March 1, 2010

People are always saying that change is a good thing. 
But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened.

I took this quote from, of all places, the movie You've Got Mail, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Interestingly, Meg's character in the movie is facing harsh job loss, and a forced change of identity. Sounds all too familiar to me.

I agree, that change is often something you didn't want or plan to happen, that happened anyway. It's frustrating, hurtful, scary, and sometimes discouraging.

Job was man who saw more change than any of us care to. His children, his land, his living, his home and his health were stripped from him. When we read the book of Job, we have the benefit of knowing that God is holding Job, restricting Satan's attack, and He has confidence that Job belongs to Him--so much confidence that he allows these changes. Remember, Job had no such information.

I have read and re-read Job, and listened to sermons on this important book. It was not Satan, people, or nature that caused Job's affliction. It was the Lord. God burdened Job with the losses of home, loved ones, health, and the ability to earn a profit. 

The Lord took away.

Like Job, we have lost much.* (Ironically, but sadly, Daniel has even been afflicted with this crazy awful rash that keeps returning, requiring him to be on Benadryl, which would be somewhat comical if it wasn't so sad).  And like Job, we are sure of our righteousness--we are not sinless, we are not justified based upon our own merit, but we are righteous according to the shed blood of Jesus, and we pursue Christ as He refines and sanctifies us. We are confident of our position with God. We are confident we desire to serve Him, even though most days it's a struggle to have hope for any kind of future. We are confident that the role God plays in our life is not a backseat type of role, but an active, purposeful, intentional role. 

Also like Job, we have times of immense sorrow and pain. Job lamented the day he was born. While we certainly have not done that, we have felt hurt deep enough to paralyze us, leaving us little energy for much else. We have wished to be through with this trial, because fear, despair, and purposelessness threaten to destroy.

I guess that's where the expression The patience of Job comes into play.

As we wait on the Lord to guide us and lead us, we find that we have gotten a good look at issues we never would have seen without this time. In full time ministry we serve, and serve, and serve. We pour into others, and we spend time, prayer and energy being involved in their lives. That is a joy, not a burden, but sometimes we don't spend enough time reflecting on our own hearts. Is there any pride taking root in our hearts--the kind that tricks you into believing you are holy because you serve? Is there bitterness when finances get tight instead of faith in God' s provision? Is there a level at which service has turned into a habit instead of a living sacrifice? What more can we do? In what ways can we better care spiritually for our own kids? How can we deepen our marriage?

All these questions have answers right now. We have examined them, answered them, and are attempting (whether poorly or well) to put them into practice. Although, as those closest to us can attest, we run at about half speed right now, as the weight of our circumstances feels crushing. 

As a result of the book of Job, we see our change as an act of God. Whatever the outcome is in terms of job, location, home, etc., is somewhat irrelevant, though there are days it feels of utmost importance, and I have been know to throw mini pity-parties. In us lies no bitterness, no resentment towards anyone who had a hand in our change. Believe me that I had to check my heart before I typed that, but truly we have taken the advice of a good friend to not let any bitterness take root, knowing that it would actually harm us, and not those who hurt us.

The outcome is we serve a great God, who loves, cares for, and sanctifies us. According to Romans 8, nothing can separate us from the Love of God, Amen! 

The outcome is that our circumstances do not dictate our joy. 

The outcome is that our pain is not an excuse to act on our emotions (though if anyone suffers because of our pain, it is my kids, who get the brunt of our shorter tempers).

The outcome is that the same God who has blessed us in a million ways, also took away many things, and He is still good. 

Therefore we can say with Job: The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

I have had many requests to know how we are and what you can  pray for, so here you go:

Pray for strength to endure uncertainty.
Pray for me to give my kids the Mom they deserve.
Pray for hope to return.
Pray for forgiveness to reign.
Pray for faith in God's timing and provision.
Pray for us to continue to intentionally grow and heal.
Pray for wisdom in dealing with relationships.
Pray for clear direction, and patience while direction is elusive.
Pray for us to go through this hardship all the way and come out stronger and healthier.
Pray for endurance for my parents who give to us generously.
Pray for my kids to be excited about our future.
Pray for us to put God first in all we think, do and say.

*Believe me when I tell you that I say that with perspective: We are not Haitians in the Earthquake nor are we homeless, destitute or enslaved. Although the physical things we lost hurt (our beautiful house, friends, income, a church family), it is the intangible loss that causes our pain--loss of stability, purpose, hope, independence.

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