Monday, November 26, 2007

In The Thick Of It?

Sincerely consider the following questions: How have you been? How hectic is your life right now? Are you in the thick of life? Does life "have you by the horns?"

I have come to know one thing for certain in my 26 short years of life--we live in a fallen world--things are not as they should be. With every blessing comes a curse. We love the sunshine, but it all too often burns our skin and kills our crops. We love the sound of rain, but it all too often floods our towns and fields. We love relationships, but hearts are always being broken.

I was outside sweeping our driveway a few weeks ago. It was one of the most beautiful days of fall. I stopped sweeping for a moment to try and take it all in. I was standing there with my broom saying, "Wow Lord, this earth you created is absolutely beautiful. Thank you letting me enjoy it." Literally, as soon as these words came out of my lips (because I don't pray silently) 2 HUGE bee's attacked me (and they are huge here in NH) and had to run inside to avoid being stung. God never wants us to forget that we live in a fallen world. He is always reminding us of the silliness (think about that word), the silliness, of storing up our treasures here.
Has God been reminding you of the futility of storing up treasures on earth lately? This is never fun, because falleness hurts.

Maybe this will be of help to you in your situation--Whenever I am in the thick of life I always take a moment or two out of my day to merely sit down and prayerfully think of why the Lord might be bringing me through such a depressing trial.

Are you struggling in your marriage? Are you struggling financially? Are you struggling with your kids? Are you struggling with your best friends? Are you struggling with your pastor? Are you struggling with your parents? Are you struggling with your health? Are you struggling with sleep? Are you struggling with school? I am sure that every single person who reads this will answer yes to at least two of these, and if you are not struggling with at least two of these, let me assure you that soon and very soon you will--because we live in a fallen world.

Unbelievable! It is 5:45 am right now and I started writing this post last night right before going to bed. After laying James down to go to sleep Kristal and I were talking. "You know Kristal, this was a good day. It just didn't seem as stressful as it has been. I mean, James was happy, he ate well, we got to play Rummy, and I got a lot of school work done." Kristal looked at me and said, "Yeah, you are right, today was a good day." While this conversation was going on I was praying in my head to the Lord, "O God, please let James sleep all the night through. This has been such a good day and having to get up in the middle of the night is never fun." Kristal prayed for us before going to sleep and she prayed nearly the same thing. Well, guess what! At 2:45 am little Jamesaronious' feet started wiggling, which then led into a little "Eww Eww" action, which then turned into him kicking his feet, which then turned into a no-holes-barred crying fest! Once the crying starts we know we are up for at least an hour, but usually he doesn't like to throw short 1 hour parties, but rather likes to keep his guests for at least an hour and a half. YEP! We were up till 4:00 am. This morning as my alarm went off as usual at 5:00 am I looked at it with a hint of sarcasm and said, "Oh no, we don't live in a fallen world."

I thought you would enjoy that story. How appropriate, It is almost as if the Lord wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to write on something that I haven't already thoroughly experienced.

So anyway, where did I leave off last night before going to bed? Oh yeah, we live in a fallen world! One of the ways I have dealt with the frustration, pain, anger, and depression that this world so often throws at us is by simply taking a few minutes out of my day to answer the question "Why is the Lord bringing me through this trial?"

Why did the Lord decide to get Kristal and I up in the middle of the night last night?
Why is the Lord taking you through struggles in your marriage right now?
Why is the Lord taking you through medical struggles right now?
Why is the Lord taking you throw financial struggles right now?

I am not saying that you should try to come to a complete understanding of why the Lord is taking you through your specific trial, but just that it is helpful to brain storm why He might be doing it. Ultimately, the specific purpose(s) behind our trials is something we will not know until glory. However, it is of utmost help if you simply try and think on these things.

Want me to exemplify what I mean?

-Why did the Lord decide to get Kristal and I up in the middle of the night last night?

Ultimately I am not sure, but I do know that His purposes are good--He only does what is best for His glory and His people. Maybe the Lord got me up in order to remind me that even our best days on earth are contaminated by the fall. Maybe He got me up so that I might be forced to practice Christ-like patience (I struggle with patience the most in the middle of the night--I get short and am often irritable). Maybe the Lord got me up so that I might call upon His name (and I did--I was adamantly praying that He would make James go back to sleep).

Do you see?! This little exercise is so helpful. It gets your mind in the right place. It helps put your trials in perspective. Even though you may not be able to nail down exactly why the Lord is bringing you through your trial, excitement begins to well up knowing that there are a thousand good reasons why he might be taking you through it. Here's the goal--turn your trials (your moments of frustration, pain, anger, and depression) into times of celebration, because you know that God is on your side and that He will not bring you through something "just cuz".

Of course, some trials are much greater than others. Marriage struggles and death are not on par with having to get up for an hour and a half in the middle of the night. However, no horrid situation is above God's loving providence. I don't care how severe your trial is--God is taking you through it for a good reason. This is not to say that the effects of sin and Satan are not real, but it is to say that God works all things together for the good. I am afraid that often times we don't like to think of God's providence because as soon as we do so we are no longer justified in our frustration and anger. Hear me out, pursuing hope is so much more satisfying than pursuing justification to be angry and irritable. This does not mean that we slap a big fat smiley face on our problems and explain them away, but it does mean that we put them in perspective.


Katie said...

Excellent reminder. And even when everything around us seems to be on the brink of disaster, we are still doing far better than we deserve.

Jimmy Snowden said...
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Pastor Luke said...

Being a Pastor who preaches on Sunday am, it never fails that one of my children will have a sleepless night on Church-eve. I often would say that the Devil wakes my kids up angry to distract me, but as I have learned over the last couple of years (with virtually every saturday night being as such) it is not the Devil trying to distract me, it is indeed the Lord refining me.

Once I began to see that this was God's work I began to see the large sums of sin in my heart. I began to realize that my pride was running rampant in thinking that if I was not fully rested the church would suffer. Then I realized, nope! It has nothing to do with my strength or awakeness, it has everything to do with God's strength and power. God was teaching me to "serve in the strength that He supplies." He was also teaching me gentleness and patience with my kids. He was also, and still is, teaching me Christ-like servanthood with my wife. He was teaching me to prize her spiritual awakeness more than my own so that I would wake up with the kids and let her sleep so she could be well fed on Sunday morning.

Taking your advice Jimmy is the appropriate, God honoring thing to do, but for me it has made things pleasantly harder, and sweetly difficult.

Jessy said...
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Jessy said...

God is truly good, all of the time, always having our best interest and His glory in mind. I am always reminded of how Jesus was told that Lazerus was dying and He purposely stayed 3 extra days where He was at in order for God to receive the most glory through the crowd's increased faith. Martha and Mary were devestated and said, "Lord, if you would have only been here, our brother would have not died." Little did they know...
Little do we know...
Good thoughts to meditate on. Thanks!