It’s hard to make sense of tragedy. It’s hard to make sense of pain and suffering. It’s hard to understand or even predict the outcome of any choice. And sometimes, there is no act to single out as a turning point. I thought about Job a lot last year. Thought about his story–how he lost so much, and his search for a reason why.
I had my own losses. I wonder if my friends thought as Job’s did. “How long will you go on like this? You sound just like a blustering wind.” Job 8:2 (NLT)
Bildad offers suggestions to Job: Your children sinned against God and got what they deserved; you need to pray and seek God’s favor and He’ll give you back even more than what you had; you must have put your hopes in the wrong things and not in God.
I’ve thought the same too: getting what I deserve for my sinful, hurting heart; falling out of favor with God–how can I make it right with Him again, what must I do to make Him love me again; my joy that falls short when tethered to circumstance.
Imperfect. Black sheep. Godless.
Sitting with Job today, I slowed to hear him and I heard myself. Chapters long of grief and wondering.
The paralyzed man in Matthew–broken too. I don’t know what caused his paralysis: accident, illness, or if he had been that way from birth. Maybe he had his own moments, time on his hands stilled before the Lord in grief and wondering. Maybe people in his life offered similar observations like Job’s friends, or maybe this man spoke his own condemnation (imperfect, black sheep, godless). All I know is he shows up broken, and with faith.
Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2 (NLT)
When I first went through today’s reading, (sin and) forgiveness jumped out at me. I thought this would be an easy write–but hours later, I’m still scratching my head. Why is it so easy to relate to chapters of grief and wondering, and so difficult to internalize the freedom in a verse?
Be encouraged. My child. Your sins are forgiven.
Hope. Acceptance. Mercy.
Lord, when I think of the single greatest waste of time in 2011, it was the time I spent mourning (and worrying about) things over which I have no control. I know I am forgiven and loved by you, but why is it easier to accept the condemnation of near strangers than to rest in the confidence of your great love and your work in my life? Why do I give so much weight to the murmurings of false friends? You know my heart. You love me and call me yours–chosen, dearly loved, redeemed. God, let your words be the ones on my heart.