Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Why Not Me?

Have you heard of Job?  He was a rich dude in the Bible who lost all his children and all his wealth in the course of a single day... And then just to top it off he got covered in boils from head to toe.  At first, Job took all this very well - until his three best friends started haranguing him and telling him all the stuff he must be doing wrong to suffer that way. After that he started to feel pretty sorry for himself and asking that universal question: "why me?"

Ever asked that when life got tough?  It's worth reading the book of Job.  In the end he learned some important lessons, but it took a while for God's message to get through, because Job was so busy feeling sorry for himself.

Don't get me wrong, Job was going through a huge trial, and those three best friends of his were insensitive to infinity and beyond.  But.  The book of Job is there for us to learn from.  To learn, in part, what not to do in a trial.  One of the things not to do is to wallow in the "why me?" question.  It's something I've had to learn personally... a number of times.  Really, why not me?  What have I done to earn a life of ease and comfort?  I didn't create myself or my children or husband - so exactly what gives me the right to good health or anything else that I might want or think I need?  Nothing.

The apostle Peter wrote in a letter:
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you... (1Peter 4:12

Those fiery trials are necessary for us to truly grow into children of God (what an incredible opportunity - to become a child of God!)

And in book of Hebrews God told His people:
And have you forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.  If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? (Hebrews 12:5-7)

The bad things that happen to us are not because God stopped paying attention to what was going on in our lives.  Nor are they the arbitrary punishment of an ill-tempered God.  Every challenge, difficulty, crisis, or even tragedy that comes your way and my way is an opportunity to learn something important.  Too often we (speaking for myself, anyway) waste that opportunity by asking God to make the bad stuff go away... and then either waiting or wallowing.

Now please understand, I'm not suggesting that God expects or even wants us to just supress the grief of a tragedy and get straight to pulling our socks up and learning the lessons He has for us.  Ours is an ever-merciful and patient Creator who understands what it is to be human - He doesn't ask us to just shut off grief and pretend it's not there at all.  Nor does God ask us to pretend that pain doesn't hurt and put on a happy face (otherwise a big chunk of the book of Psalms wouldn't exist!).  Jesus Himself felt and expressed anguish in His lifetime as the only perfect human being ever to live.  But - when we get to the point of just wallowing and feeling sorry for ourselves, or when we pause life (and personal growth) to wait for God to fix things so life is just as we think it should be - that is the time to start asking what God has for us to learn. God has promised:

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful , who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Did you really read that?  Go on, read it again.  God is faithful.  Did you get that?  He will make the way of escape so that you may be able to bear it.  Have you really got that?  Do you really believe it - right to the core of your being?  Whatever you are suffering right now, however unbearable it feels - there is a way through.  Whatever God is throwing at you (or letting others throw at you), there is a message in it for you - a personal message, written in love, just for you from your great Creator.

Don't (as I have often made the mistake of doing) get so busy wallowing or waiting that you miss the priceless gift of the lessons that God is teaching you.  Is God's message getting through?  Why not you? Why not me?  God has so many things to teach each of us.  Are we listening?