At Little Union's New Year's Eve service this year, I heard two sermons that really could have been preached to me and no one else. (Though I hear, that most everyone got something very meaningful from them.) First Bro. Chris Taylor spoke from Mark 4:38, how the disciples were crying "Carest Thou not that we perish?" Bro. Chris's point in a much nicer more elegant way was - how stupid, of course He cares. He talked about how sometimes we allow ourselves to be so overcome by our problems and circumstances that we say things we ought not, and really begin to believe that He doesn't care about us. I have struggled with this, after all, who am I that God should notice or care for me. He is so great and above us, and I am nothing. Next, Bro. Silas Ford spoke from the next verse on "Peace, be still." This part is what truly hit home for me. He talked about how our days are filled with "busy-ness." Sometimes it's good things that take over our lives at the expense of better things. Sometimes it's just daily life. Sometimes it's the distractions of the world. He encouraged us to think of the mental busy-ness as well as the physical. I confess, I'm the world's worst about playing the worst case scenario and taking every possible problem WAY, WAY too far in my mind. It's a running joke with me and Gary that my brain has no off switch. No matter what is going on in life, he can pray about it and be asleep in seconds at night, while I struggle to pray, leave it with the Lord, and go on to sleep. I was pretty convicted by the sermons, my one "resolution" for this year was to keep my focus more on the Lord and carry my worries to him and leave them there, and that I would do that by trying to spend more quiet moments in mediation, and actually read the Bible through chronologically this year. (Something I've wanted to try for a while.)
I'm a little behind in my Bible reading. I'm not able to sit down and read every day. My mornings are still the worst time of day between morning sickness, the pregnancy SPD, and just my personality. Some nights I'm just to wiped to do more than veg out with Gary and watch a little tv. But, I am making it a part of my days. This week I've finished up reading in Job. Everyone knows the general story. Satan being Satan, is looking for trouble, and God points out his faithful servant. Satan then wants to have a field day with Job, which God allows. Satan is sure that he can crack him, and thus begin all of Job problems. Job loses everything, and three friends show up to comfort him. While they are wise and get alot of things right, they are pretty miserable comforters, and don't get to the deep truth of who God is. In the end God steps in to put things back in perspective, before restoring Job to more than he had in the beginning.
However, I got so much out of this book that I've never really noticed before this particular reading. Job's friends really do have alot of truth in what they say, but they are convinced the only reason for suffering is sin in your life. While sometimes we do suffer for that reason, sometimes we suffer just because there is sin in the world, and not due to our specific actions. The thing that really got me, was that Job is constantly begging, demanding, pleading for God to tell him WHY he is suffering. I'm not even going to tell you how many times I have asked that question over the last several years. Why are we out of work? Why are we STILL out of work? What am I doing wrong here? Is this punishment? Is this just bad circumstances? You get the idea. We know why Job suffered because we get the intro, but if you'll notice, God never gives Job the answers to his questions. The lesson God gives is that He is God, and we can't even begin to approach Him or understand His ways. The lesson from Job, is that no matter where we are in life we should trust God, and have faith even though we don't have all the answers. We've evaluated things we've done in the job search, and we can see some areas to improve upon. We continually try to evaluate the way we are living to better follow Him. But, when it comes down to it, we don't have all the answers to why we were unemployed for so long, or why we are unemployed yet again. However, we can continue to trust and follow to the best of our ability, and "when I'm tried sufficiently I shall come forth as gold." If God so desires, He can bring forth good even from this.
One of the books I read at the tail end of last year, brought home this message again. I shared it with Gary when I was reading it, and he told me that was blog worthy. In Janette Oke's book Spring's Gentle Promise the man that the story centers around is trying to keep the family farm going through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowls. After several years, they have gone through their savings, they have sold off all the livestock they can, they have no seed left for future plantings, they owe money to the doctor and the general store. He has taken a government works job days away from his family just to keep them fed and on the farm. He feels like a completely failure, and is at the end of his rope when he comes across a verse in his nightly Bible reading. I immediately recognized it, because it's the verse at the top of our blogspot.
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. -Habakkuk 3:17-19The realization he comes to is that while he is to do his best in providing for his family and the service of the Lord, it's God that is his strength. He doesn't have any strength in and of himself. He also comes to realize that no matter how bad things are that God can provide. And rather than spending all this time depressed and worried and trying to handle things on his own, he can rejoice in all the blessings that he does have from the Lord's hand. To me it just reinforced that lesson that I should be stressing less, trusting more, and enduring current circumstances in faith. I suspect this lesson is one that I will never completely learn, but I do hope to improve.