I have two girls. They bicker. They tattletale, despite years of encouraging them to handle issues between each other first. And their response is always the result of someone else’s action.
“You can’t control what someone else does. You can’t blame them for your response. You are responsible for you,” I remind. Regardless of who starts what. That’s the short version.
That lesson made sense to me, until Saul–and a mood hand-delivered from God.
On a day when everyone celebrated, he was wounded by the frolic-song of women. Words can hurt, especially when intentions are (mis)interpreted by insecurity. I get all this. But I stopped cold at the next line:
The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. 1 Samuel 18:10 (NLT)
The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul … (NIV)
… an ugly mood was sent by God to afflict Saul … (The Message)
Rising above the tease of a sibling vs being overwhelmed by a spirit from God seem two ends of a spectrum, but regardless of the purpose (which we may never know) or the source (be it from our own interpretation of events or divine intervention) of a trial–aren’t we still responsible for us? Isn’t God still interested in our response whether we are under blessing or affliction?
Reading through Lamentations 3 and Psalm 34, I see the cause and I see the response.
19-21I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
22-24God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left. Lamentations 3:19-24 (The Message)
In Lamentations, peering out from the load dumped down from the verse one and on, I read this:
28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.
And in Psalm 34,
8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.
Lord, in Job I read how you permitted the pain in his life. And in Hannah’s prayer, I am reminded again the earth is yours and you set it in order. All throughout scriptures you reveal, explain and prepare us for trials and troubles … and all throughout scripture is your assurance you are with us, you are good and you love us. Lord, in blessings or in troubles and trials, my hope and desire is to turn to you and bless your name. Amen.