It is so easy to look at life and wonder why I am being bombarded by so many trials and testings; yet, what if I'm not? What if it only feels like I am being passed through the fire, pressed in the wine press or stretched through the trials? What if I'm not the one suffering the trials and testings at all?
Take for instance Job. If you haven't read that particular book of the Bible, I encourage you to do so, go ahead, I'll wait for you. :)
Job was under extreme trial. We know this because we have the "inside scoop", we know the background to the story, where Job fits into the underlying Spiritual battle. See, the reality is that our life is not as simple or black and white as it appears on the surface. Behind all the situations, beyond all the struggles is a spiritual war that our decisions have an effect in. Job shows us this. I don't want to talk about Job though, beyond pointing out that it was JOB that was being tried and tested.
The forgotten person in Job's story is his wife. The only thing we know about her is that she encourages Job at one point to "curse God and die", and often we judge her for that. Take a look around her though. Put yourself in her shoes. She has just lost all of her children, their entire life's work, savings, retirement plan, wealth and community status. She is grieving a grief that most cannot even begin to fathom. She is as depressed as Job is, perhaps more because her woman's heart is bleeding. But... it is not Mrs. Job that is being tested here. She is being hurt, she is being damaged, she is being tormented, but SHE is NOT being tested. Nowhere in the conversation between God and Satan is Mrs. Job discussed. Oh, it is bandied about that Satan didn't harm her because he knew she could help him with his attack on Job, given that she encourages Job to curse God; but what if it was more? See, God told Satan he could not attack Job himself at first, and then He told him he could not take Job's life. In God's eyes a married couple is "one person", maybe Mrs. Job was included in that protection. Maybe Satan left her alone for other reasons. We won't know this side of heaven - and perhaps not on the other since it is HER life, not ours we are discussing.
The point being that even though Job was on trial, Job was being tested, that test affected the lives of many others around him. A ripple effect if you will. Job's children certainly probably felt as if they were the ones being targeted, the servants - especially the few that survived, his friends and most definitely his wife; and those are only the ones we know about. A loss of wealth that great must have rippled through the community like a wildfire. The fear of attacks from bandits would be heightened, fear of freak storms, fear of the economy failing from the loss of such a major player to the economy. Everyone affected must have felt at some level as if it was them who was under attack, them who was being tried and tested, them who was targeted to be hurt.
What if what has happened in my life has not been directed at me? What if I am a ripple effect? Does it make my pain insignificant? Certainly not - no more than the pain Mrs. Job felt at losing all of her children in one moment would have been lessened by knowing that Job was the one targeted. Would she have been okay with the situation if she knew the big picture? Maybe marginally but she still would have hurt intensely! What if God is not doubting my faith? What if God is not testing my faith?
What if the trials and tribulations I face in life have absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with someone else? Does it make it easier to handle, easier to come to grips with? Maybe.
The spiritual warfare side of our lives does not seem to be something many people focus on. I think we need to at least be aware that it is there and that it underlines every action and reaction; every activity; everything that happens to us in our lives. Satan hates me. I have an enemy that will never reconsider his position, will never surrender, will never walk away. He has almost unlimited resources to fight this battle to it's bitter end. And, it will be a bitter end. The good news is that I do have unlimited resources to fight the battle. All I need to do is call on Jesus, because when I call on Jesus, ALL things are possible. (Call on Jesus)
The reality is that it doesn't matter if I am the target or the consequence of the trial, it's gonna hurt me. It changes my perspective to realize that I may not be the target however. I can encourage or I can discourage the intended target, I can build them up to realize they have the strength or I can cut them down and deepen the pit being dug for them, deepen their depression. That's my choice.
Do I let my pain stop me from dancing? Or do I realize that it is truly not all about me and keep dancing, if only to encourage those around me? They might be suffering worse than I, they might be the target, it might be their hearts Satan is seeking to destroy in this moment.
I'm going to keep dancing; I'm going to keep smiling. I choose to build up and not to tear down. What will you do?
Friday, February 10, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Sometimes it feels as if the weight of the whole world is bearing down on my shoulders, like I cannot carry anymore. I feel guilty for that, guilty for hurting, guilty for not being strong enough. I should be strong enough. Falling apart is not an option, I have to keep my head about me, my wits about me, my faith should be strong enough to sustain me, to keep my head above water, to keep me from being weak, from hurting.
Why do I think I am exempt from hurting? Just like everyone else, I live here, I get to suffer the consequences of living in a sinful world, of rebelling against God. I was reading Job the other day and when I got to chapter 3, it struck me that Job's cry out, his desire to have never been born was his expression of his pain, of his deep depression, yet God never condemned him for that. In fact, Job was commended because through it all "he sinned not". Job did not sin by being depressed, by hurting, nor by expressing that pain and hurt.
When I cry out in pain, that is my honest expression of emotion, it is not sinful to say "I am hurting", or "I am depressed". I am normal, I am okay. I may be hurting, but my depression, pain and emotions are not necessarily sinning against God. They are honest, God given emotions. What I do with them, how I express them, decides if I sin or not.
Maybe it's okay if I slow down the dance. Maybe it's okay if I take the time to slow dance for a bit and just cry on His shoulders when I need to. No matter how we dance, as long as I let Christ lead, it will be a beautiful journey.