Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2Corinthians 1:3-4
In studying JOB, I have come to understand more clearly the value of trusting God, His Word, and His mercies that are offered to His flock. Calling out to him over the last year, whether my day was filled with pain or exhaustion, I admittedly had moments where I complained over my circumstances, yet I also knew and had faith that God had a plan. I was comforted in knowing that He would utilize my situation to His glory and that nothing I go through in this world is too great when I have Him by my side.
I have a picture with a beautiful poem about the Lord carrying us in our times of trouble and the picture has one set of footprints walking in the sand. Although I enjoy the concept of Him carrying us through this life, I think I would rather consider Him as a partner walking beside me like a seeing eye “friend”. Pointing out obstacles, directing my footsteps, guiding me down the path of life leading to His narrow gate. Nurturing me along the journey so that in the end He will be glorified.
One of our questions in our study asked whether we have ever encountered God in a way that transformed our understanding of or attitude toward Him? We were then asked to share the experience and tell how our view of God was changed.
My answer was yes and I went on to explain. Our move to our current location was not an easy transition. We moved to a state that we had never stepped into, knowing absolutely no one, and to top it off it was in the winter. We lived in a two bedroom apartment for two months while we sought out our current home. The kids had school and were making friends, my husband had work and new relationships to nurture while I had a realtor once a week. My days were very lonely.
I had left behind a volunteer position at the kids school that kept me working every day as the school librarian, room mom for one class, a bible study that I had been a part of for 10 years, childhood friends, college friends, family and ladies that I had befriended after our third move. My involvement with our church included VBS, women’s ministry, fundraisers and the meal delivery service for our brothers and sisters within the church that I was in charge of. I was running with kids to Karate classes two days a week, baseball three days a week, dance classes 3 days a week, boy scouts and brownies every other week and our weekends were spent at a cottage. To say that I was busy is an understatement. In fact, one of my friends gave me a mug for my birthday that said, “Note to self: Stop volunteering for stuff”.
In my loneliness, I found that going to the Lord was giving me encouragement. In my times of human weakness, however, I sought out to find purpose for myself in our new town. I thought I needed to be a part of something, other than just looking for a house for the family. So after a month of spending one day a week cleaning the apartment, grocery shopping and doing laundry, another day going out with the realtor, and the rest of my week spent sitting alone reading the word of God, I went in to our new church and requested a list of activities and groups that our family could be a part of. I distinctly remember breaking down in tears in front of the secretaries. Not sure what else to do, they presented me with a list of people to call and activities that may interest us.
One by one we reached out, seeking out purpose, more for myself than the rest of the family. After all, they were meeting people and making friends. I was the one who was trying to find my niche. Each time we reached out, we hit a dead end. Either the groups were full or after receiving information we decided that the group was not what we were interested in. Once again, I remember finding myself in tears. As our second month approached, we had found our house and we were waiting for it to be completed as it had been a new construction. One more day would be added to my loneliness as I no longer had my day with the realtor. Another moment of tears. I remember asking God why and I also remember complaining.
One day, as I was reading His word, I was struck by the time I had to be with Him. I’m not sure exactly what took place, however, I felt this peace that I had not known since our move. I came to the realization that prior to our move, my time with Lord was when I could fit Him in, between projects and activities. I scheduled my time with Him based on what worked for me. In the two months of being in the apartment I realized that all I had was time to spend with Him. He had become my best friend, my caretaker, and my encourager. He was walking beside me and was giving me comfort in my times of loneliness. I was not alone, I just didn’t have perspective.
I remember thanking Him for all that He was doing for me and my family. For giving us all that we needed. Even though we were in a two bedroom apartment and ate dinners at a table in the living room by the couch. We all have said that they were the best two months we’ve ever had as a family. As a family, we grew closer, enjoying our time together since we didn’t have any extra curricular activities vying for our time.
I would say that during that time I encountered God as I had not known him before. The focus in my years prior to our move were spent trying to do all the good in the world, doing all that I could for my family and for others. I spent time with him when He fit into my schedule, praying while I was driving and in my quiet time upon waking and before bed. After our move, I had refocused my attention, turning my daily schedule into a time of continued worship of Him. To my pleasant surprise, my Heavenly Father was there waiting for me and He met with me giving me peace, understanding and perspective. He didn’t ask me to wait until He had time in His schedule, He was ready and willing to offer mercy, grace, and love when I needed it the most.
Rather than seeing Him as a Holy God who was too busy to notice whether or not I took time out for Him, I realized He was a Holy God who is a jealous God that needed me to take that next step in knowing Him. I was transformed! I don’t mean that I became a christian at that point, I knew I was a christian and had been for many years. I was however, growing in my knowledge of Him and who He truly was. Humbled by His time with me and my recognition of His Almighty character, I prayed that He would lead me and open doors when He was ready for me to once again serve outside of the home. I said that prayer in church one night and at the end of the service a woman approached me asking me to be a part of a prayer group. Timing was everything. Once again, I thanked Him, knowing that all He wanted me to trust in Him and His plan for my life. Each experience I have endured since the Lord called me by name has helped me to grow closer to Him and has given me new perspective.
In watching Bethany Hamilton in Soul Surfer recently with my daughter, I am reminded that sometimes we need to be in a different place, focusing on something other than ourselves to gain perspective. Not unlike what God did with JOB. JOB had his own thoughts and considerations in defending himself pridefully with his friends, yet it took God’s audience with JOB to show him a new perspective that included who he was in comparison to who God was. Isn’t that so like the life of a christian? When we stray from the herd, our shepherd uses His staff to to gently remind us of our place in the flock.
I challenge you reader to look at your current affliction and look for opportunities to give you a new perspective. Preferably, allowing God to be a part of that process.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2Corinthians 4:7-11