Tuesday, June 21, 2011

If we Throw a Spiritual Tantrum we may get a Spiritual Spanking.

Photo courtesy of Atsoram
Then these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Job 32:1

If you read the story of Job you find many things. Of course, there is the matter of Satan taking everything from him except his life. You will also find that in the beginning of his trial Job stands firm in his conviction and devotion to God. However, as the narrative moves on we see that Job begins to slip, he begins to question God and His justice. Ultimately, Job falls into the sin of self-righteousness (see the above verse) and must stand and endure a barrage of questions from God Himself.

Yesterday I found myself having a Job moment. Have I been afflicted like Job was? Not even close. Has everything been taken from me? Nope, sure hasn't. In short, like the little child that sometimes shows up in all of us, things just weren't going the way I wanted. In fact, for some time now things have not gone the way I had envisioned or desired and it may be that today follows in that pattern. I'm sure many of you have experienced the same thing. That is, the best laid plans, that you have worked so hard on and put so much into, disintegrating before your very eyes leaving you with a handful of ashes. The bad news is that it is likely that something like this will happen in all of our lives. However, it is how we handle it that makes all the difference.

I discovered, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, that my attitude towards the situation was a) unhealthy and b) dead wrong. The way I described it to my wife was, I was sitting in the corner with my arms crossed showing God how pitiful I was in hopes that He would through me a bone. I was acting like a child. We've all seen young children who want something, I don't know, a cookie. When Mom or Dad says "no" what happens? Pouting and evil looks. My subconscious plan was similar. I would spiritually stomp around and shake my fist at God say, "Fine, you got me. I don't know what to do and I don't care anymore...wwwwaaaaaaa." Then God, like a soft-hearted grandparent, would lean down and say, "There, there Christian. I didn't mean to make you sad. What can I do to make it feel better?" You see God is loving but He is also perfect and just and sometimes...many times, His love is tough because it is for our betterment. So, after my spiritual stomping I didn't get a spiritual cookie, I got a spiritual spanking.

Between chapters 38 and 41of Job I have counted sixty-three questions that God asks Job after telling him, in our parlance, to "pull up your britches and take it like a man." In essence God is telling Job, "Fine, you have it all figured out. How about you answer these questions from me." This is not a position to be envied. I was fortunate that God did not level me the way He did Job. Rather than sixty-three questions I just got a few that basically add up to God looking at me and saying, "Seriously?" I was simply flooded with the understanding that I know people who are truly suffering in this life and yet they are able to look to the heavens and praise God and thank Him. I remembered the Apostle Paul who was in and out of jail and experienced all kinds of physical and spiritual hardships. I realized that I have no right or reason to even come close to claiming that I am "suffering," and even if I was, what does the Bible tell us?

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Or what about this one;

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (James 1:2-3).

I'm so glad that Job doesn't end with the barrage of questions that God gave him. In chapter 42 we have these words from Job that I believe act as a wonderful model for when we find ourselves in similar situation.

I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:5-6). 

I realized yesterday that I have no right to shake my fist at God and throw a pity party in His presence in hopes of manipulating a blessing out of Him. To speak plainly, it is foolishness and dangerous. No matter what our situation is we get to choose how we are going to react to it. Will we react in a way that the world would react? That is, with anger, frustration and an "I don't deserve this" kind of attitude. Or will we react in a way that brings honor and glory to God? Will we react with grace, patience, peace, patience, trust and patience? You see, this is part of what separates us from the world, the way we handle adversity. To be perfectly honest, the way I was handling adversity yesterday did not show evidence that I have put my trust in God. The onlookers of the world see how we act when times get tough and the question is, in those times do we show them that there is value in trusting God? Do we show them that we have been given a peace that passes all understanding?

I am thankful that the Lord did not smite me yesterday afternoon when He had every reason to. I am thankful that He was willing to teach me and speak to me even though I don't deserve it. I know that there will likely come a time when I slip back into my spiritual temper tantrum mode but I pray I am growing beyond that. We serve a great God with a perfect plan and the power to carry it out. He deserves all of our trust even when things look bleak, even when we don't know what is going to happen and even when we feel like not caring.

Godspeed,
Christian

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