Consider: Those Corrected

16 08 2010

Part 12 of “Consider This”

The topic of today’s post is on being corrected; and there is nothing I like better than being corrected (ha). I am building this around a verse that comes from a scene in the Bible where we meet a man named Job, who had a pretty good life, and then everything (I mean everything) fell apart and Job lost everything (I mean everything); to top it all off, his health fails and he spends his days in a great deal of physical pain. In the middle of his suffering some friends (I say loosely) who have assessed his situation (as friends do) come to tell him where he went off the tracks.  To summarize:

Bad things do not happen to good people. Obviously, Job, you sinned and offended God and all of everything that is happening to you is your fault.

Comforting. After all the finger wagging, Eliphaz brings it all home by saying,

Consider the joy of those corrected by God (Job 5:17)

It is unfortunate that this line comes where it does, because there is truth in what he says, it’s just that he makes a large assumption: that Job’s troubles have come because he has offended God and has brought calamity upon himself.

I can relate to Eliphaz in this because sometimes I have a warped view of hard times as well.  I have to work to keep my head straight about God’s grace and love; I have an easier time believing God wants to correct me than embrace me so when things go wrong in my life, I jump pretty quickly to the assumptions of Eliphaz. It takes effort for me to step back and figure out:

  • Are things going wrong because things go wrong? Things break, plans don’t work out, we are mortal, we live in imperfect and polluted environments and to quote Rush, “Why does it happen? Because it happens. Roll the bones.”  It’s not God, its just life.
  • Are things going wrong because I have broken something and I am “reaping what I have sown.” It’s not God, it’s me.
  • Are things going wrong because someone else has broken something and their dominoes are touching my dominoes? It’s not God and it’s not me, it’s you.
  • Are things going wrong because, while God has been trying to get my attention, I have not been listening and now He is REALLY trying to get me to stare at something before I do something even more destructive to myself or others? It’s….yeah, it’s God.

I have a hard time figuring this out for myself, let alone figuring it out for other people.  Sometimes “things going wrong” are actually the result of a complex web of events, information and misinformation, and actually being able to pinpoint “the root cause” is not so simple. People want it simple though. They want to point one finger at one thing but sometimes all four are at play: life, me, you, God.

When things go south I want to know why; there must be a reason! God, why? Why am I going through this? I believe God wants to tell me something about what I am experiencing, but I can see how I blockade Him. At the time I think I am being so open to hearing whatever God wants to reveal to me, but in hindsight I see that I wasn’t ready at all. As a result, I have put myself through so much pain,

  • I have analyzed things endlessly, when I think God was trying to say to me, “Uh, actually Teresa, that’s just life. There is no deeper meaning to it. Stuff breaks; that broke. You will have days when you see that everything is a bit fragile and fallen and that’s about all there was to that.”
  • I have been so sure of myself at times that I couldn’t see the “me” in it. I couldn’t see that I dove in recklessly or that I put fuel on something or that I was just plain wrong until much, much later when I realize: Would you look at that. I was wrong all along.
  • I have beaten myself up over things that really were someone else’s problem, but I was so busy self-flagellating that I just couldn’t let it be that. I so couldn’t imagine that I could be without fault in a situation that I killed myself trying to fix what was someone else’s brokenness.
  • I have had such blinders on so that I could not see God whistling and waving for what might have been days or months or years trying to catch my attention. In my experience, God does this. He whistles and waves for years, and nudges and calls. He sends things my way, once and twice and three times to help me see a pattern I need to address. And then one day, He gives me an illustration I can’t miss and that hurts; but it’s effective.

Eliphaz was wrong when he said that Job brought everything upon himself. Eliphaz was right when he said that there is joy when God is involved no matter whose fault it is. The joy is that

  • If life is the problem, God says He is with me like a shepherd is with his sheep, guiding me and helping me and getting me to where I need to be.
  • If I have been a problem, God says that I can turn from my ways and make things right (as right as I can, from my end of things), and that there is forgiveness and a new day.
  • If others are being a problem, God says that I can still love my “enemy,” here’s how, and here’s how to move forward in confidence without heaps of baggage and bitterness.
  • If God is helping me figure out what is problematic in my character, he will shine a light into my life so that I don’t have to live with dark and disturbing corners, he will make me into a new person as we go.

When I journey with Jesus as my redeemer, friend and leader there is, strangely enough, joy to be found even on hard days; not that this is our first emotion, but somewhere down the line we can see it. I have actually cried looking at joy standing there, still with me, while I am bleeding. This isn’t the kind of joy that puts a forced smile on your face, this is joy that is a trusting-confidence that a new day and a new way is being created even as we speak; it is the joy that one feels when you know, all is not lost.

— Teresa Klassen

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