When You're About to Give Up
Sounds like Job's wife.
There was a great man named Job, God-fearing and blameless, who had everything--- a beautiful family and great possessions--- all that any man could dream of during his time. Then out of nowhere (for Job), catastrophe after catastrophe fell and he lost his children and all his possessions. Next, he got boils, painful to the core and occupying freely his skin from head to soles. That's when his wife spoke up: “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).
It's so easy to turn into Job's wife, when the loving and responsible man you envisioned your husband to be morphs into less than what he seems, when the family you've wanted become a constant reminder of your weaknesses, when you're fighting the strong current of recession or onslaught of disease, or when you're simply trying to keep your head above a business fast sinking or stress at school or work.
Recently I had a similar sentiment as Job's wife, even as I felt like I couldn't recover from another blow. But I heard Job reprimanding me, "Don't be foolish!" And I realized the blow was more on my pride than what I thought was my faith. Oh, I, of little faith!
And for days, I was a wimp. I wasn't strong, even as Christian friends encouraged me. I wasn't brave, nor happy, or hopeful. I was disappointed, frustrated and full of regrets--- if only...
Until a memory in Facebook reminded me of what I had written two years ago, when I was away from my husband and children, and all my longing was centered on being back with them. Ironically, now that I'd gotten what I wanted, I realized that it was really not what I wanted. I want a Christian home. Year after year, night and day, I struggled to keep my family together in walking with the Lord. And there were plenty of times I felt alone.
So there I was, wanting my something but the nothing was not an option. I have to settle for what I have and what I have is imperfect.
I didn't like that. As the days passed and I wallow in pity, having a party no one else can join, and mad at God, Job spoke to me... and a cup, too.
Job's voice in my thoughts as he reprimanded his wife:
“You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.
Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).
Right after, I heard him worship God,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
I felt foolish.
When Jesus bore that cross on His shoulders, no sound of whining escaped His mouth. After all, that cross was supposed to be mine. When He hanged there with a broken heart, He did so without regret, because He loves me. How can I ever doubt that He cares?
I thought marriage had made me better. And motherhood. And all those books and courses. And sermons and Bible studies. And life lessons and experiences. And people I've met and know. But I failed. And in failing, I blamed God for not changing my circumstances and the people around me. After all these years.
God though is merciful. I didn't get what I deserve--- a spank on the bottom. Instead, I got a picture of a cup, imperfect but beautiful with its rough edges.
One imperfect cup as made by a famous ceramic artist, told me there's beauty in imperfection. Ah, yes, and in authenticity. I know my reaction to my situation was totally uncalled for for a Christian and that was why I felt disappointed. In myself. I thought I knew better. I thought I was on my way, as I long for, to becoming a better person, one with God's Kingdom in her. But, no, I still run out of faith.
And there I was, with faith dead as the ashes. And with anything dead, only God can bring back to life. So even as faith died, God was there.
Remember Elijah? He felt alone, praying himself dead and hid himself in a cave (1 King 19:9,10). But even with His lack of faith, God was there.
David, despite committing a great sin, knew this for sure. "The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?" (Psalm 118:6).
In all our struggles, God is with us. We are never alone, even when we feel that we are.
And all those rough spots in our character and life? All those out of our control? Ah, the Lord is still in control, especially, with all those that are out of our control. He is still God. He makes our rough edges beautiful--- stripping us of the cover-ups and masks that we put on to hide our real selves and our self-sufficiency. We may appear imperfect, but in His hands we are beautiful, fitted to reveal His glory. Because, yes, we were made for His glory and His alone.
So tonight, I want to worship with Job: The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord!
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