Tag Archives: frustration

Ecclesiastes 3-5; Psalm 45; Matthew 15

I think of the scraps that fell from the table: could meager remnants become a feast? I sat on a bench one year and considered the crumbs and thought of this woman in Matthew 15 and her perspective.

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table. (Matthew 15:24-27, NLT)”

She taught me something profound that day about my own heart. About contentment. About gratitude. About the Lord. About enough.

The Pharisees had their expectations of what life would look like, and how purity would be recognized, and a protocol for how things would be done. I think on how my own expectations, perceptions, and protocol have kept me sour, hurt, angry, or disappointed.

Ecclesiastes marks time like seasons for war and peace, tearing and mending, silence and speech. Couldn’t it show on the calendar? On (this day), you will cry. You will grieve. But in a few turns of the calendar pages, you will laugh. You will dance. Would the wait feel long?

Here, I linger:

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13, NLT).

The injustices of life. The advantages of companionship. The futility of power and wealth. The importance of integrity. Read slowly. Everything, beautiful. Even in the becoming, beauty, in the wait. A scope of His work.

17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past (Ecclesiastes 5:17-20, NLT, emphasis added).

I did a quarterly evaluation in areas of my life from 1-10: work, health, friendships, etc. Goal books and podcasts preach a level-10 life. What would it look like, I wondered. And slowly I realized–I was already there. I have all I need. And maybe living out level 10 didn’t mean what I was making it (nebulous as it was). Maybe it didn’t look like anyone else’s vision of ten. Maybe, in some cases, it had to do with letting go of hurts and expectations, with looking forward and sowing into a future than looking back and carrying past burdens. Maybe my disappointment stemmed from exceptions and restrictions and expectations I placed upon things, a schedule I overbooked, a relationship I overestimated. For community that was never going to be what I hoped it could be. For the friend who never agreed to be who I needed her to be. What if I let go of my own restrictions, instead of wrestling with a past I couldn’t change, and people I wished who would? Seems like chasing the wind.

Lord, thank you for meeting me that day on the bench, bringing that woman’s story to mind. Thank you today for reminding me of the scope of your story. Thank you for gifts from you: good things from you, and the health to enjoy them.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ecclesiastes, Matthew

1Kings 18; 1Thessalonians 1; Ezekiel 48; Psalm 104

In my head, it seemed like a good idea–my Smile and Wave Campaign 2010. In a continued effort to seek peace and pursue it, trying to make a long-time strained relationship all better with a friendly greeting, it was met by a turned back. Again.

“God–I am seeking and pursuing peace. What gives?!” I muttered. I got home and dialed a friend and complained about my lack of fruit (and/or success) in mending fences.

“So you are upset that God isn’t working in your time frame,” she said.

“Um. Yeah,” I said. Upset. Discouraged. Frustrated.

“Don’t you think that God is also working on her heart?” my friend continued. “It takes time.”

I had been all fired up to have a word with God. His words waiting for me, instead, in the very first sentence.

After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” 1 Kings 18:1 (NIV)

After a long time …

Here I was discouraged, ready to throw in the towel because I wasn’t getting results I wanted, when I wanted. It sounded familiar.

In check, I realized I was limiting God–who is continuing to work on my heart as well as hers. Maybe I won’t get results I want, but in further reflection, perhaps I am getting the results God wants: my obedience to answer his call to seek and pursue peace (and him), and to put my faith in something outside myself and my efforts.

Father, I  am so very near-sighted. Thank you for speaking to me in your word and through good and trusted friends who love you. I somehow thought I would get peace when a relationship was healed–but through this struggle, I found I get peace in you, by faith and trusting in you. I will continue praying, living out your command to love, and waiting expectantly for rain.

Courtney (66books365)

 

 

 

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Filed under 1 Kings, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament