"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him..."
Job 13:15 (KJV)
Have you ever tried to figure out what God is doing in your life? Funny how I seldom--okay, never--question Him when great things are going on. But when life gets difficult, I can start playing the maddening game of trying to understand what He might be doing. At first, I try to be calm and patient. I try to comfort myself by reciting Scripture which promises that He is in control. He is. But my expectation is that He will quickly rescue me. When He doesn't show up in the way I think He should, I can begin the descent into worry and dread.
What kind of pain is the worst? Today, as I was getting out of my van, I slammed the driver's side door directly on my right ankle. The fire that went through my leg almost made me crumple right there. How did I do that?! I opened the door and got in so I could sit down in the seat and SCREAM in the cabin. It was the kind of pain that brought tears to my eyes. I gingerly tested my leg's ability to hold my weight about five minutes later after the searing pain was replaced by the dull ache that is there now. I know that I will have a huge bruise, but, thankfully, the bone is not broken.
But what if my bruise never healed? What if a year, two years, five years from now I was still living with the results of that door slamming into me? Isn't prolonged pain that doesn't heal worse than quick and searing pain that flashes in and out of our lives? What, my sweet friend, is the bruise that won't heal today? What has it done to you to hinder the way you live? More importantly, what has it done to your perspective on God's goodness?
There are some hurts that do not end, no matter how long it has been since the initial receiving of them--a devastated marriage that ended in divorce, a barren womb, a ravaged relationship with someone whom we once did life together, the death of a spouse, child, or parent, or continual worry about finances. We want answers when those things happen to us. The horrible dilemma we have as human beings is that we may never figure out why it happened. And the hurt over those unanswered questions can lead to bitterness and despair toward a God that we do not see as kind to us anymore.
I have spent a lot of time in the Psalms. daily:
Someone very dear to me gave me a journal with the Psalms of Asaph in its pages. I cannot tell you what a balm those have been to my soul. Asaph was one of King David's worship leaders. He had the privilege of ministering daily before the ark of God--the symbol of God's presence to the Israelites. Daily, he praised. And yet, these are the questions that he had, even though he entered God's presence
Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold. Psalm 73:1-2
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted. Psalm 77:2
O LORD God Almighty,
how long will your anger smolder
against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
But when I considered how to understand this, it was too great an effort for me and too painful...
Psalm 73:16 (Amplified Bible)
I am not the first one to question why God is doing what He is doing. I won't be the last. But this is what I must do, what Asaph did, in each one of his psalms of pain:
"We give praise and thanks to You, O God, we praise and give thanks; Your wondrous works declare that Your Name is near and they who invoke Your Name rehearse Your wonders." Psalm 75:1 (Amplified Bible)
Then I thought, "To this I will appeal:
the years of the right hand of the Most High."
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:10-12 (NIV)
When I cannot understand, when my heart is racing with fear, when I am crushed under the unfairness of something, I can always appeal to Him! He knows all those bewildering emotions that threaten to suck the very life right out of me. They will deaden me, but He can handle all of them!
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. I will cling to that as my truth, even though this life and its gut-punching, knock-the-wind-right-out-of-me blows threaten to unravel me. His ways are higher than mine. I will appeal to His kindness, His gentleness, His justice, and His mercy. And because He has proven Himself faithful time and time again, I know that this too shall pass! Solomon summed it up the best way I know:
As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, Who does all.
Ecclesiastes 11:5 (Amplified Bible)
Amen and amen.
Jesus, I cannot understand. Perhaps I never will. But I deliberately choose to praise You, even when the hurt has not subsided. You are making all things new. Let me be still and know that You are God.