Hello, friends! Welcome to Day 10 of The Journey 2011! How’s it going for everyone?
Every now and then I’m going to pop in with these special blogs just to talk about some of the awesome things that I’m finding in my reading. I’m twittering a lot more often about fave verses, too, so follow me at http://www.twitter.com/abeautyglorious!
In the chronological Bible reading plan (which you can find here: http://www.ewordtoday.com/year/esv/cjan01.htm), we’re reading through the book of Job right now. I don’t think I’ve read Job since high school, and even then I don’t remember paying much attention. It’s not an especially fun book, because of the enormity of Job’s suffering, and also because it can be difficult to understand when the friends are actually speaking truth vs. when they’re just playing blame games, and also when Job’s actually speaking truth vs. when he’s just blowing off hot air. But in between all that, there’s some mind-blowing stuff that really challenges the way we respond to tragedy.
In the first two chapters, Job loses everything he values: his wealth, his children, and even his health. He still has his wife, but she’s no help. (“Curse God and die!” Job 2:9. Gee, thanks for your support…) And yet what’s his first reaction?
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.”
I notice that he’s not pretending it’s no big deal. The guy is deep in mourning. But somehow, he still keeps his eyes on God. He still recognizes that God deserves his worship, no matter what.
We sing a lot of songs about this. We sing “Blessed Be Your Name” in the “land that is plentiful” and when we’re “found in the desert place.” We sing “Desert Song,” in which my favorite lines are “All of my life, in every season/You are still God/And I have a reason to sing/I have a reason to worship.” But really, when tragedy strikes, how quick are we to take up that banner of praise? Do we really act like we believe that NO MATTER WHAT, God is still God and that in and of itself is reason to worship?
How resilient is our trust?
Just over a year ago, my aunt died very suddenly. It hit our whole family hard, and I by no means got the heaviest of the pain. But still, I found that I had a choice to make. I could either close off, pull back, and try to protect my heart from a God I didn’t understand, or I could press in and choose to love him regardless.
I didn’t write in my journal for several days after it happened. I didn’t know what to say or how to deal. When I finally did open up my journal, this is how it came out:
“I hate having to write this. What do you say when the biggest prayer you ever prayed was denied? When a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt breathes her last and enters the glory realms, leaving behind a broken family… I don’t understand. I don’t know what good this will serve. But I do know that she has no regrets. Her soul is satisfied… God, I am still here. The heart of the ocean can’t pull me from you.”
I chose love. And I am proud to say that so did my family.
When things like this happen in our lives, that’s the choice we have to make: worship or bitterness. It’s okay to mourn; it’s even okay to be angry, but if there’s not some worship in there too, you’re putting yourself in a bad place.
After all, when life collapses for you like it did for Job, who do you have left but God?
The verse I wrote in my journal that day was this:
“Because of this, many of Jesus’ followers turned back and would not go with him any more. So he asked the twelve disciples, ‘And you—would you also like to leave?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”
Peter chose love. He recognized that sticking with Jesus, even when nothing made sense, was the only thing that did make sense. He had crossed the point of no return; he was so consumed with love that Jesus was his only option. He couldn’t even imagine leaving. David expressed something very similar when he said, “Whom have I in heaven but you?” (Psalm 73:25)
Job chose love. He made the most incredible statement in Job 13:15:
“Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”
This is a verse I absolutely need to memorize. I find it incredible because even though Job didn’t understand and felt absolutely crushed by God, he still chose to place his trust in a God he knew was essentially good.
Good? After all that destruction and despair?
Yes. God is good no matter what, because it’s his very nature. It’s who he is.
Job couldn’t see the bigger plan. He didn’t know that God was going to restore his joy and then some; he didn’t know that Satan was betting against his faithfulness and all of heaven was watching him; he didn’t know that his story would end up in the Bible to encourage people for thousands of years.
But he knew that God was good. Period.
The last line of that journal entry, “The heart of the ocean can’t pull me from you,” is actually a line from a song called Rock of Salvation. (You probably aren’t familiar with it; a guy from my school wrote it and we’ve been singing it in chapel for several years. I’m including a music player below for you to listen to it.) For me, that line is my vow to God that despite the strongest force of opposition, whatever that “heart of the ocean” may be, I will not be moved. Like Peter and Job and David, I have passed the point of no return, and God is my only option.
I choose love.
Rock of Salvation by Paul Stephens
Do you have a favorite verse from your reading? Post it in a comment to share with us!