Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Trusting God through the losses of life

“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

~  Job 1:21b-22  ~

Loss and the subsequent grieving process seem to always be a part of our lives. We lose loved ones, jobs, our health, our faculties, relationships, material possessions, status and especially our car keys LOL!

Learning to grieve and work through those losses are the most important tasks of our lives, often determining the extent of our spiritual growth and ministry on this earth. Jesus pointed that out when he shared the parable about the kernel of wheat falling into the ground and dying in order to yield a large harvest. (John 12:24)

One of my favorite Bible stories centers around Ruth and Naomi. (The Book of Ruth, chapters 1-4)  Both women suffered heavy losses. Naomi was uprooted from friends and family in Bethlehem to move to a new land where she experienced the pain of being an outsider. Then her husband died, leaving her and her sons to fend for themselves. They were stuck in a strange land because returning to Israel meant a further loss of livelihood – the famine was heavy there, leaving no grazing land for their flocks.

As long as she had her two sons, Naomi felt compelled to be strong – to bear her losses and carry on in this foreign place. She even managed to rejoice and grew to love her new daughters-in-law when her sons married local girls. But when both of her sons died, leaving her virtually alone and unprotected in a foreign place, Naomi’s resolve cracked and a deep depression which had been building up for a long time overcame her soul. She lost her faith in God, allowing the pent up anger and bitterness inside to well up to the point where she wanted to change her name to Mara(bitter).Even returning to her home and friends didn’t help break through her depression.

Orpah coped with her loss of her husband by taking the easier route away from her pain. At the first opportunity, she returned to the safety of her home, despite the fact that she belonged to Naomi’s family through the marriage contract.We can’t really fault Orpah – she was doing what she needed to do for herself to carry on; choosing to be surrounded by family and friends and the potential of remarriage rather than making the drastic life changes involved in staying with Naomi.

Ruth, on the other hand,had discovered something powerful and real through her marriage to Mahlon – she discovered faith in a new God who cared for His people and offered her a way of escape from the hardships of her life in Moab. We don’t know what her life was like before she married Mahlon, but it must have been bad enough to cause her to to be desperate to leave Moab with Naomi, despite the fact that Naomi painted a very bleak picture of the future in Israel for her daughter-in-law.

Through her newfound faith, Ruth embraced the pain of her loss. She worked through it to the point where she accepted the future, no matter what it held, because she trusted God. Sure Ruth keenly felt the loss of her husband, but the thoughts of losing her relationship with Naomi and Naomi’s God hurt worse – a loss she couldn’t bear. So she worked through her feelings of loss with trust in her new God to take care of her even if things got as bad as Naomi said they would.

Her attitude, like that of Job in today’s quote, pleased God. He brought her into a new land where she put down roots and flourished under His care. Her tears were wiped away and her life morphed into more than she ever dreamed it could as she married Boaz, had a son and was welcomed into Bethlehem’s society. God even blessed her by incorporating her into the lineage of the Messiah. Through Ruth’s healing, the lives of all around her were touched. Naomi eventually overcame her own depression and learned to live again.

I wish I could say I always reacted to loss the way Ruth did.But I can’t. I’ve experienced deep depression many times over the course of my life resulting from painful losses. I’ve also coped by taking the easier way out rather than trusting God to walk me through the hard places. But in those times when I have managed to trust Him through the losses, I have seen phenomenal growth and healing in my life.  I have reached some of my goals that I never believed possible!

We all suffer loss, but my prayer for you today is that you might know the comfort, strength and even joy of the Lord through those losses; that you might experience the healing, growth and overcoming power of the Lord to bring you to new heights because of those losses like He did for Ruth and Job. Amen!

iow-smallToday’s In Other Words is hosted by Miriam over at her blog MiPa’s Monologue. If you’d like to play along, blog about today’s quote on your blog site, then hop on over to Miriam’s blog and leave your URL with the Linky tool

Be sure to leave her a comment so she knows you visited and if you have time, visit the other blogs listed there to see everyone’s take on the quote. You’ll definitely be blessed!.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Who’s an April Fool?

Ok, I know April fool’s day has come and gone, but it was kinda fun this year….

No, I didn’t play any jokes – at least not intentionally. I was baby sitting for my 2 grandkids in Maryland and handing out money to my d-i-l  whose birthday was a joke on her mom 37 years ago. But it was a good day nevertheless.Avery in VA

Six year old Avery is in Kindergarten and is such a cutie. We started talking on Friday afternoon after his parents left. I made a statement and in typical six-year-old fashion he asked, “Why?”

“Why?” he asked again after I gave him the answer.  After my third reply and yet another, “Why?” I couldn’t help myself; I started laughing out loud. I don’t remember my own children going through the “Why?” stage, but I guess they did. It just tickled my funny bone to hear Avery do it with such a serious expression on his little face.

While I giggled, he looked at me as if I suddenly sprouted bunny ears. Then a grin spread across his face and he said, “Grammy, you’re making April Fools!” 

100_0288Saturday evening, Avery told me Mother Nature was making April Fools because  it was snowing with thunder and lightning outside. I guess so! We ended up with 4 inches of wet yucky white stuff on the ground which the forecasters did not predict. Every bit of it melted away by Sunday afternoon so I could travel the back roads home with no problems.

Once home, I began to get caught up on the weekend mail and noticed an interesting story on the front page of the northern NY newspaper where I used to work. The paper comes out once a week on Fridays (which just happened to be on you-know-what day this year LOL!) The lead story showed a photo of SOMETHING with a head and several humps swimming in the Oswegatchie River. An Oswegatchieness Monster perhaps??????

What a great story. The writer hooked his audience right from the beginning with an outrageous, yet believable story about a trucker passing through town who saw this thing on the river as he crossed the bridge.  The trucker photographed it with his cell phone and then called the local paper.

After the interview, the trucker climbed into the cab of his truck and told the news editor, “I’ll be driving slow and looking into the river again…. just in case.”

To which the editor laughed and replied, “I happen to see gullible readers who read this story all the way to the end before realizing it’s April Fools Day.”

Got me again!