"Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:
“ 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.”
In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.
Job 1:20-22 (NJKV)
I had just finished college and was experiencing the thrill of the early makings of a relationship with someone I had been watching from afar for over a year. Everything made sense about this relationship. Everything. I had felt sure that God had a call on my life to return to the mission field and that was exactly where this young man was going. I had even majored in nutrition, knowing that God was going to have me use it one day to help start a feeding program for starving African children at some point.
Because I wanted this relationship so much, I started to claim Scripture in my prayers as the gnawing feeling grew that the young man was losing interest. On paper, the relationship could not have been more perfect. We had similar backgrounds, he was definitely a spiritually-minded man, and I loved to be around him. I was absolutely shattered when he stopped calling. In retrospect, I probably gave away how desperate I was to make the relationship happen, scaring him off.
I fumed and sat in the despair of my broken dream as wave after wave of grief and bitterness washed over me. What I had wanted was not wrong. It was just not what God had wanted for me or for that young man. I truly felt my whole world had fallen apart. I had never been more confused because I had convinced myself that this was how God had been leading me--us. I felt sure that my broken heart would never love again.
I have been reading through the gospels lately and reread the account of John the Baptist being thrown in prison for his confrontation of sin in Herod's life. Can you imagine how disillusioned John must have been? After all, his birth had been predicted by the prophet Isaiah as the " one crying out in the wilderness, 'Prepare ye the way of the Lord.'" He had lived his entire life devoted to preparing those who would listen for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He had been thought of as a fool, I am sure, by those who didn't understand his idea of fashion. Even then, I can't believe that camel skins as clothing were in style! And his diet was such that no one would have wanted to be his invited guest--locusts and honey were the items on the menu.
Jesus was his cousin! John the Baptist had had personal contact with Him. Surely prison and ultimate beheading were not part of God's plan for the prophet who had prepared the way for the Messiah! I don't know what John the Baptist thought his life would look like, but his anguish and confusion come through loud and clear in his raw question to Jesus from his prison cell:
17This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
18John's disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19he sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
20When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?' "
21At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 23Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."
Listen to verse 23 in the Amplified Bible:
And blessed (happy--with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, apart from outward conditions--and to be envied) is he who takes no offense in Me and who is not hurt or resentful or annoyed or repelled or made to stumble [whatever may occur].
Girlfriends, are we offended by Jesus? Are we hurt, resentful, annoyed, repelled, or made to stumble because life just has not turned out the way we wanted it to--the way we had imagined it would. Oh, I have been every single one of those things and didn't even realize it. I was in severe denial that I was bitter over the way life had turned out. Rather than come to grips with my anger and confess it, I just lived in a numb, depressed state for so long.
Looking back at my shattered dream and heart, I have since come to realize that while I may have dreams that are noble and look wonderful to me, my Jesus has the final say. I could not see all the reasons why He said no to that relationship. But I can praise Him with my whole heart today because he has given me a man that is the perfect mate for me. I can't imagine not having my Rob. I could not see all that I would have missed had I married the other person.
We cannot stay offended. If we are honest, we will see that life just kind of stops and becomes dead when we do. Can we trust the One who knit us together in our mother's wombs before even she had knowledge that we were there, who knows our comings and goings, what delights us, what hurts us, what thrills us to have the right to say no if He wants to? If He has taken something away, it is not to hurt us and destroy us. It is to give us something better.
Jesus, You will take our shattered dreams if we will let You and use them for Your glory to bring comfort to someone else's hurt and, in the process, heal us. "You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, "Lord, blessed be Your Name."