Devotional Thought of the Day:
“Why do you still trust God? Why don’t you curse him and die?”
10 Job replied, “Don’t talk like a fool! If we accept blessings from God, we must accept trouble as well.” In all that happened, Job never once said anything against God. Job 2:9-10 CEV.
Give your whole self to God and to His images, your brothers and sisters. Risk. Be crazy. Hold nothing back. Don’t be reasonable. Don’t be an investor. Be a lover.
Tell God right now that this is the one thing you want above all: the gift of loving Him completely. Tell Him you will never let Him go until He blesses you thus. Tell Him that even in eternity you will not let Him go until you are 100 percent love. And then you will never want to let Him go.
“when the creature failed, he flew to the Creator. He evidently felt his own weakness, or he would not have cried for help;”
This week I one of the lectionary readings to preach on what has become, if not a favorite passage, at least a life theme. No, it’s not the Job reading above.
It might be worse,
Here it is.
7 You tricked me, LORD, and I was really fooled. You are stronger than I am, and you have defeated me. People never stop sneering and insulting me….9 Sometimes I tell myself not to think about you, LORD, or even mention your name. But your message burns in my heart and bones, and I cannot keep silent. Jeremiah 20:7,9 (CEV)
I have to admit there have been times where I have felt this way, seriously felt this way. Not enough to assent to Job’s wife’s demand, but where situations cause despair and distress that is overwhelming and makes you want to yell at God.
just like Jeremiah did.
Sort of like I wanted Job to do…
Jeremiah did… Job didn’t.
What made Job able to do it? What made him able to accept the curses as well as the blessings? What is the difference between these readings that always seem to coincide in my life.
And why can’t I be more like Job? Why can’t I help others to be more like Job?
Maybe Job was more like Jacob, displaying the attitude Peter Kreeft describes at the end of his best book. (One of the top 5 books in my life, I think – just finishing it, I need to read it again!) May Job understood what Spurgeon described, the need to cry for help… that was so great you couldn’t hold it in… and God listened.
Jeremiah was young… maybe Job had experienced it before.. and knew. he could cry.. and God would be there.
In times like this, I need to hold on, to demand that God can only be free of me when he helps me love Him, and those who bear His image, completely. Nothing else need matter except that, and truly, that is what I need to hold on to, to the fact that God can change us, and will complete that work.
I just need to hold on, to trust, to demand the blessing of being transformed into the image of the One who loved that purely. (That probably means I need to pray for the strength to do that as well. That I can do it year-round, not just in my annual encounter with Job and Jeremiah…)
I am pretty sure you need this as well, so let’s pray for each other, let’s beg God on each other’s behalf…
Lord, help us hold on.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 225.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived. You are stronger than I am, and you have overpowered me. Everyone makes fun of me; they laugh at me all day long. 8 Whenever I speak, I have to cry out and shout, “Violence! Destruction!” LORD, I am ridiculed and scorned all the time because I proclaim your message. 9 But when I say, “I will forget the LORD and no longer speak in his name,” then your message is like a fire burning deep within me. I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back. Jeremiah 20:7-9 (TEV)
333 Think about this carefully: being transparent lies more in not hiding things rather than in wanting things to be seen. It is a matter of allowing the objects lying at the bottom of a glass to be perceived, and not trying to make the air visible. (1)
it has been one of those weeks. The kind I have had far too often recently, but this one is up there.
Six years ago, even though I read the verses above from Jeremiah many times before, I actually preached on it. I was at the time deciding to accept a call to the church I presently serve. Leaving behind friends and a church that was described by my predecessor as the nicest church he had ever encountered in 50 years of ministry. So why would I leave? And what did it mean that I would preach on this dark passage from Jeremiah?
Weeks like this one. Where I started the week praying for friend that was likewise moving from one parish to another, at the choice of his supervisors. Trying to grieve the change, while ministering to those he was coming to serve. Difficult. Very difficult. Another old friend this week revealed that he was also moving from one church to another – re-assigned by his supervisors. A challenging move for him as well, and then another friend last night, was told it was time to move in his ministry.
I am praying for one of the men I had a part in training for ministry, he has brain cancer and is fading fast. Another friend I found out this morning, who I also trained as a deacon, had a heart attack. Last night, out of the blue, I found myself discussing the death of one of the best friends in my life, who ministered at my side for far too long. There as well was another of my best friends, who lost his dad a month after I lost mine, and a few months later, his mom went to be with God as well.
Tomorrow, as our children wish us Happy Father’s Day, for the first time we can’t go to lunch with our dads, or talk to them on the phone. Some 15 of our friends lost dad’s or a granddad after ours passed.
This is not counting the trauma of those around us, which dwarfs our own. Dear friends with health problems. Families torn apart and going through death, others through divorce, family facing issues with those they love who are in bondage to drugs or alcohol. People dealing with financial crisis, people dealing with disabilities, including those of the mental health variety. Missionaries who are trying to deal with poverty that makes our headspin, or with violence and threats and potential martyrdom. Other people making decisions that will wreck their lives, decisions they know are wrong, but justify with justifications that…
It is enough to make you want to scream “stop”, or yell out in anger and frustration.
And if we admit it, if we are honest and transparent, the One we want to yell at …. is God.
Couldn’t He do something? “In only you had been here Lord,”the sisters of Lazarus has said. Whose fault is all of this suffering, all this pain? Why can’t life be simple and pleasant and without all this…. painful crap… (I wrote something else there.(shit).. but edited it)
It took preaching on Jeremiah’s hitting the breaking point, to be able to realize that it was ok to yell at God. That you can say that God tricked you, deceived you, to cry out like a 5 year old, “That’s not fair” or “This sucks…. That transparency with God, about our feelings, our frustrations our pain is a good thing, and I will dare say, it is necessary.
Because being that transparent with God is a matter of faith, it is necessary if we are to trust Him to bring us through the situation, if we are going to allow Him to walk us through the fire, through the storm, even through the valley of the shadow of death. It is necessary to grieve, because then acknowledging the pain, we can let Him, ask Him, count on Him, to bring healing, to bring peace, to flood our lives with His love, and comfort.
You can’t do that if you are hiding it, if you are bottling it up, letting it turn to resentment. Pouring it out on those who become you victims, because you won’t let the frustration and anger be turned on the One who has shoulders to bear it, shoulders that bore the stripes of whips, the very stripes that Isaiah prophesied would heal us, cleanse us… save us.
Have to admit, I don’t like writing this blog. Have to admit – I would love to just spend tomorrow walking along Lake Ossipee, with my son, and yeah – with my dad.
It needs to be written, for my own sake, but perhaps for yours as well. To give us the confidence to say,
Lord have mercy…. which can only be said… when we know we need it… even desperately need it.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1555-1557). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.