My Life Stinks!

February 7, 2012

Ever been in a job or a situation that you hated?  It brings down your spirit just to be there?  Sometimes in those situations there doesn’t seem to be a way out or at least a way out that is soon enough.

Joseph in the Old Testament felt the same way.  His life started off pretty well.  Out of all of his brothers (and he had A LOT of them) he was his dad’s favorite.  His birthday parties were always the best and he got the best presents.  One day all of that changed.

Joseph’s brothers got tired of the special treatment to their snotty nosed little brother and decided to get even.  They didn’t just steal his ball glove or eat his candy.  They threw him into a pit and sold him into slavery to a band of gypsies…. talk about wrecking your day!

His life was filled with ups and downs.  He was a guy that really sought God and did the right things, yet his life sucked.  Thrown in a cistern pit and sold into slavery.  He later was propositioned by his master’s wife, yet he resisted.  His reward for doing the right thing?  She was ticked off at the rejection.  He was falsely accused of trying to rape her and was thrown into prison.  Can things get any worse?

Scripture tells us in Genesis 39:2 and 39:21 that “the Lord was with Joseph.”  Now, if I’m Joseph, I’m doing the right thing, and  all of this happens to me, I might be thinking, “God, go be with someone else so my life might get a bit better.”  Not Joseph, he kept honoring God through all of the trials in his life.

Sometimes in life, we make bad decisions and we have to suffer the consequences.   We “punch ourselves in the face” and ask God why it hurts.  Those situations where we bring hurt and hard times on ourselves are a little bit more understandable than when we are seemingly innocent.Either way, it’s important to seek God and get through the situation while honoring Him.  Philippians 4:13 says that it’s possible to do “all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Keep honoring God no matter what.  It is just about guaranteed that in this world we will go through storms.  Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.”  (John 16:33)

It’s ALWAYS better to go through the storm WITH God, as opposed to going through it ignoring Him.   As the song says, sometimes He calms the storm but sometimes He calms the child.  Keep trusting.  Keep seeking.  Keep holding on.

Here are some Scriptures that may help you if you are in the middle of a storm:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:76

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(Disclaimer:  I called this “My Story” because this post contains my thoughts and story.  Obviously, the experience and pain was shared by Marla, our family, and our friends.)

Sometimes things happen that are hard to understand. We already had 1 ½ year old Rebecca when Marla came to me with the news. “I’m pregnant,” she said with a huge smile on her face. We were excited, to say the least.

It was hard to hold in the excitement. As Student Pastor at our church, our entire church was soon buzzing about the news. I think I was still smiling from ear to ear two weeks later when I got the horrible phone call from Marla. “I’m bleeding,” she said through the tears. Doctors confirmed that she had miscarried our second child.

As a pastor, I was the one that usually had answers for people. This time I felt hollow.  I had questions and thoughts that didn’t make sense:

• “Why would this happen to us? We’ve given everything to You, Lord. Why us?”
• “Lot’s of babies were aborted everyday. We really wanted this baby.”
• “How do I now go back and tell everyone what has happened and protect Your reputation as a pastor, God? You let us down.”
• “Is there something that I did that caused you to take Your hand off of my family?”
• “Maybe I didn’t pray enough for Marla and the baby. It’s all my fault.”

Well meaning people came to me with “pat” answers to questions that I didn’t ask them. They said:

• “Maybe there was something wrong with the baby…”

I Thought: Well, if there was something wrong with the baby, God is God and couldn’t he just fix that?

• “God needed another angel in heaven.”
I Thought: Babies don’t become angels. That doesn’t make any sense.

• “It was just God’s will…”
I thought: My God wouldn’t play with my life like that. He wants the best for me.

• “You can try again.”
I thought: It’s not like I can just get another puppy but thanks for your permission.

To say that it was a confusing time for someone who was supposed to have the answers was an understatement. I was hurt, mad, confused, and wondering if this God that I had devoted my entire life to even cared about Marla and I at all.  It shouldn’t be about “luck.”  God should take the “luck” out of all of this.

Out of all of the above thoughts that I had, the one that was wringing in my ear the most was this one: I didn’t pray enough for Marla and the baby and that’s why this has happened. I felt like it was my fault.

As the pastor, I knew that I would dispel those thoughts in someone that walked into my office feeling they way I was feeling. I knew what I would say to others but it just wasn’t working for me.

After a sleepless night, I got up and went to a Bible Study that some guys at the gym had every Wednesday. I had never gone but I decided that since I was up all night, a 6:00 a.m. Bible study couldn’t hurt anything.

After being welcomed by the guys who had been inviting me, I sat down and didn’t tell them anything about what I was thinking or what had happened.

The study that day was on John 9. That’s the passage where Jesus was asked, ““Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus responded, “Neither this man or his parents, but this happened so that God would be glorified.”

I couldn’t believe that was the subject. God was speaking right to my heart from these muscle headed guys in the gym. I didn’t really get a lot of answers that morning but I did get one thing that I’ve remembered ever since.

God loves me. As I was wondering where God was in this nightmare, He reached out to me. He loved me enough to tell me through these guys who didn’t even know why they were leading the study on John 9. God reached down, put His arms around me, and said, “It’s not your fault. I love you. Trust me.”

When have you wondered if God really loved you? How has He shown you that He does love you?

One thing that I’ve learned as I’ve tried to live as a Christ follower is that life is tough.  It didn’t take me long to discover that life can sometimes seem very unfair.  I think sometimes Christians think that once they accept Christ into their life, everything will begin running smoothly in their life.  That’s not always the case.

Jesus said that “in this life, you will have trouble.” (John 16:33).  If you’re not in a trial now, one thing is for sure.  You will have them in the future.  Hard times come.   Going through tough times is not an issue of being unlucky or lacking faith.  It’s just life in a messed up world.

In tough times, I often hear statements like these:

“I know that God loves me BUT I don’t understand why I have to go through life hurting like this.”

“I know God is sovereign BUT if that’s the case, why can’t I find a job?”

The problem with these statements is that the BUT is in the wrong place. The Bible tells the story of Job and others who loved God with all of their hearts, however, things went wrong in their lives.

Job didn’t throw in the towel when life came crashing down on him. He kept trusting God. Job 13:15 quotes Job as saying, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust Him.” Job was trusting with everything he had…even his own life.

Now, back to the BUT being in the wrong place. Let’s rearrange the above sentences with the BUT in the right place.

“I am hurting alot and I don’t understand, BUT I know that God loves me. I trust Him.”

“I haven’t found a job yet BUT I hope in God because He is sovereign. He knows what I need and He cares for me.”

The difference in the statements is the placement of the BUT. One focuses on the challenge and the other focuses on God.  The first two has the focus on our limitations and the other focuses on how big God is.

Let’s focus our “BUTS” on who God is and not focus so much on our challenges. When we focus on who God is and not so much on our challenges, those challenges seem to get a bit smaller in comparison to the God that we serve.

Does any of this make sense to you?