The Patience of Job

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You have probably heard this phrase frequently. When someone seems to be able to tolerate what seems to be intolerable they are often told, “You have the patience of Job” Although I don’t consider myself a very patient person, I have been told that I have the patience of Job. Here’s the thing. I think we miss some of the elements of the patience of Job. We have the tendency to idealize that he never complained, never got angry. If that was the case, not even Job had the patience of Job.

Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. The key wordsimages for me in this statement, without getting angry or upset and the fact that there are no screams, lamps flying or inappropriate language doesn’t mean a person is not angry or upset.

I’ve read the book of Job a little over three times. There are passages where I pushed my bible to the side fearing that just the fact that I read some of his remarks towards God was going to make a thunder come down from the skies.  Here are some examples but you have to read the book, there are a lot more:

  •  Job 3:11 “Why didn’t I die at birth, my first breath out of the womb my last?”
  • Job 6: 8-9 “All I want is an answer to one prayer, a last request to be honored:
    Let God step on me—squash me like a bug, and be done with me for good”
  • Job 7: 11-16 ““And so I’m not keeping one bit of this quiet, I’m laying it all out on the table;
        my complaining to high heaven is bitter, but honest. Are you going to put a muzzle on me,
        the way you quiet the sea and still the storm? If I say, ‘I’m going to bed, then I’ll feel better.
        A little nap will lift my spirits,’ you come and so scare me with nightmares
        and frighten me with ghosts that I’d rather strangle in the bedclothes
        than face this kind of life any longer. I hate this life! Who needs any more of this?
        Let me alone! There’s nothing to my life—it’s nothing but smoke.”
  • Job 9:21-24“Believe me, I’m blameless. I don’t understand what’s going on.
        I hate my life! Since either way it ends up the same, I can only conclude
        that God destroys the good right along with the bad. When calamity hits and brings sudden     death, he folds his arms, aloof from the despair of the innocent. He lets the wicked take over running the world; he installs judges who can’t tell.”
  • Job 10:1 “I can’t stand my life—I hate it! I’m putting it all out on the table, all the bitterness of my life—I’m holding back nothing.”
  • Job 16:8-10 “God, you have wasted me totally—me and my family! You’ve shriveled me like a dried prune, showing the world that you’re against me. My gaunt face stares back at me from the mirror, a mute witness to your treatment of me. Your anger tears at me, your teeth rip me to shreds, your eyes burn holes in me—God, my enemy!”
  • Job 17:6 “God, you’ve made me the talk of the town—people spit in my face”
  • Job 21:4 “It’s not you I’m complaining to—it’s God. Is it any wonder I’m getting fed up with his silence?”
  • Job 23:1“I’m not letting up—I’m standing my ground. My complaint is legitimate. God has no right to treat me like this— it isn’t fair!”
  • Job 30:20-23 “I shout for help, God, and get nothing, no answer! I stand to face you in protest, and you give me a blank stare! You’ve turned into my tormenter—you slap me around, knock me about. You raised me up so I was riding high and then dropped me, and I crashed. I know you’re determined to kill me, to put me six feet under.”

So once again, if your image of the patience of Job is this quiet guy who took everything in longsuffering not getting ever upset, go read the book again, that was not in the one I read. I don’t know about you but I read a lot of griping and complaining. If someone is saying constantly that he hates his life that is someone who is upset.

I’m not saying this to down Job. He was patient and truly waited on God. He endured everything that happened to him, but he vented and complained quite often. Don’t ever feel that when you bring your sorrows to the Lord it means that you are not trusting God.  When you feel the need to vent to God, don’t think that you can’t.  If God is our everything, it means HE will also be THE ONE to whom we should go with our heartaches, anxieties and pain.

One of the things I admire about Job is that he always knew that his life depended on God. He knew he was feeble and that God was sovereign. He never cursed at God, he kept his faith through losing it all and he lost it all. He lost his wife, his sons, all his earthly possessions, his friends and even his health. When I say he lost it all, he lost it ALL; but his faith.

So at least in my case, I may have some of the patience of Job. I whine and whine and complaint knowing that God is there. I give it all to him, but I still say “God is not fair” and God says it’s true, I never said life was fair, but I am fair.

I don’t only want to have the patience of Job. I also want to have his faith and endurance to be able to Praise the Lord no matter what comes my way.

Food for thought.

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Emotions and Christianity

I was reading an article on the magazine “In Touch” the other day. They will have to forgive me because I don’t remember the specific author or the edition of the magazine that I read. The article was talking about how as believers we tend to have unrealistic expectations of what our emotions should be in determined situations. I think the saddest part about it, is that we permeate this culture of unrealistic expectations when we attempt to provide support to someone in distress.

I’m guilty of telling someone one that they are not trusting God on a situation, because they are exhibiting anxiety or distress and I know I’m wrong for that. I also know that I’ve accused myself of not being submitted enough to God for experiencing things like: fear, anger, sadness, anxiety.

There’s this wrong perception that if you’re a believer everything in your life has to be going absolutely perfect. We forget to read that part of the Bible that says, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Who can forget the scene where Jesus kicked everyone out of the temple? He was angry. The Word says, “be angry but do not sin”…it doesn’t say you’re not allowed to be angry.

Where do we even get these ideas that because we believe we’re going to be walking in clouds, our children will be perfect, and our relationships will be perfect? Yes, we have deceived ourselves.

The interesting thing that we missed, that was addressed in the article was that we are made as God’s image; this means every emotion that we have, he has and made for us. It’s what we do with our emotions that could either edify us or destroy us. If we use our emotions and turn them into prayers, instead of complaints, and remember that the test is only the beginning of the testimony; we would see our life with different eyes.

I had a situation this week, where everything that could go wrong, went wrong. At the end of the day, I was tired, frustrated, overwhelmed. I kept praying God’s peace. I surrounded myself with my accountability support people. I finally came to the conclusion that this was the test becoming a testimony. The testimony is that every single thing that looked impossible on Monday was resolved without my intervention and in ways that only God could have shown himself. The fact that I cried and was frustrated doesn’t mean that I didn’t know that God had it in his hand and was going to deal with it. I didn’t’ doubt it for a minute. I just had a bulk of emotions; I recognized them as such and treated them as such.

Sometimes we lose focus that not only the lost souls struggles, but our fellow believers have struggles too, and how can we be of help when instead of mercy, we hand out judgment.

Be Blessed!

 

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The hair clip from hell!

Have you ever heard that we are affected by things, people and places? The results can be both negative and positive and sometimes without our conscious acknowledgement. We live our life day by day and our life gets transformed for good or bad and it’s not until we make a pause that we realize how far we’ve gone; either towards our purpose or away from it.

There’s a particular thing that was a symbol in my life for a long time without my conscious knowledge, it was a hair clip. Apparently when I was very angry I would pulled my hair up, others will say that it was very high, and that I placed the hair clip on the top of my head. It was an unconscious thing.

I use to be a manager, and I heard some of my employees pass by my cubicle and announce, “oh oh hair clip is on”. I never paid attention, I thought it was a joke, until one day someone who I was in a relationship with and I were having a phone conversation. It was more an argument. He got quiet and said. “I bet your hair is up” and when I touched my hair, he was right. This same individual had a fist fight with his brother. I was called by a neighbor who couldn’t pulled them apart. I asked to be placed on the phone with my boyfriend and announced that I was on my way. When I made it to his place the guys were in separate rooms, I talked to “my guy” and started asking questions about the fight, he kept staring at me in silence. Finally he said,” I’m not talking to you until your hair comes down” I started laughing and pulled the clip off. This was over five years ago.

Why a hair clip story? During the last five to six years God has been working on me. I’m not sure if I had an anger issue, it was more a legalistic spirit. Everything needed to be in a way (usually my way) and I was miserable. If things were not inside the mold I would not only be upset but angry.  As things started changing in me I started enjoying my life. I laugh more, I have less concerns and I’m way less affected by sudden changes in life.

When I stopped managing my life and surrendering it to the one that could actually do something about it I had less reasons to worry and less need to control. That gave me more time to enjoy life and do more of what I like: writing! I’m not going to say that I never get upset or angry anymore, but the clip went away from my life as I am not nearly as uptight as I used to be.

I laugh when people say how funny or laid back I am. If they only knew me then. But what about the hair clip you may ask? I have not used it in years. I realized this week how long God has brought me when I found it buried in a box.

Would you like to share things that God has changed in your life? Have you identified things, people or places that affect you positively or negatively? I would love to hear them!

Be blessed!!

As promised…

Internet is back up, Halleluiah! As promised, upon my return I was going to add another one of my short stories for your delight. Please go to e-reads page and click on “Loud Silence” or simply click on the link below and enjoy this dramatic story of a woman who had it all and basically snapped.

Feedback is always welcome and thanks for your patience while I was away.

Happy Reading!

Sex Scandal in the Catholic Church

Church Sex scandals are a hot button topic these days and have maintained high visibility in the media recently.  I was moved to write this because I believe that the passion and intensity surrounding this issue has skewed a lot of people’s opinions and perspective and I believe that I can give a more balanced view on this issue.

It is terrible that as a people we have to be watchful even with those who we have been conditioned to trust, namely men and women who claim to come in the name of God. Sex scandals have not been exclusive to the Catholic Church, many preachers and pastors have fallen short of the grace and those things have become public. It is always disappointing.  I think part of the disappointment comes from forgetting these individuals are merely men and women. We have the tendency to elevate their position because of the part they play in our communities, social settings and the body of Christ. The reality is that yes, their responsibility is to lead and teach us about the Lord, but their humanity doesn’t leave with their calling.  Actually, as Christians we need to pray harder for our leaders because their attacks and strongholds are often as large as their calling.

I’ve heard people blaming celibacy for these events. I respectfully disagree. Priests and nuns know that this is a requirement of the commitment they have made. If sex was the driving force then priests having relations with Nuns or other secular adults would be just as, if not more, prevalent. The truth is pedophilia, rape, and sexual abuse is not sexually driven. They are driven by a deeper disturbance; it’s about control and power more than the sex itself.

 The other part where I respectfully disagree is where it has been commented that because it was male priests with male boys, that it was due to homosexuality. Homosexuality is not equal to pedophilia. Statistics show that the majority of sexual predators are heterosexual.

Now the thing that really bothers me about these cases is the way they have been handled. Whether the abuse was committed by clergy or the man down the street, the inequities in the handling of the situations are abhorrent. The fact that many of these priests were simply relocated to new communities, with no consequences or rehabilitation program, is ridiculous. On top of that, the new communities were not advised of the person’s past behavior. If the church wanted to take care of it internally, like the military handles issues that pertains to soldiers; I don’t have issue with that, however, relocating them to another community is unacceptable. Instead they should have been placed in some manner of recovery program and then reassigned to work in a position where they didn’t have access to children at all. Is that lack of forgiveness and mercy? No! That’s wisdom. Slapping their wrists and telling them to not do it anymore, without true rehabilitation, placing them back into the communities to do more damage, is irresponsible, dangerous and ultimately criminal.

It is hard for me to understand why servants of God would think that this would stay hidden forever?  The word of God says that “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13 NIV) which means that nothing that they were doing was going to remain a secret.

I encourage you to pray for our religious leaders. They have a great responsibility and with it great lengths of attacks. I pray that they take the authority that has been given to them by their calling and correct appropriately those who have been entrusted to them.

I pray for those who have committed these terrible acts that they find themselves in true repentance before God. That they turn their hearts, make amends when possible and face accountability for their actions.

 I pray for the victims. I hope that their hearts continue to look to God for redemption and healing. God can restore anyone, and He can restore the souls of these who are suffering and their loved ones.  I encourage you to pray the same

Be blessed.

The Good Wife-Heart

I’ve been watching this show off and on since it started. The show centers around a woman trying to rebuild her life after severe and complicated marital issues, but this week’s episode brought an interesting angle that is rarely portrayed on television, how important is salvation in your life?

 The husband in the story is a politician and wants to hire a pastor to improve his political image. He cheated on his wife and participated in some shady activities and found himself in jail, a series of events that not only placed his career in jeopardy, but also his family. The pastor refuses to play the political game and offers the man true salvation. In this episode, the husband starts getting interested in prayer, working with the pastor towards truly making a change. The episode ends with him inviting his wife to church, and it remains to be seen if he actually means it or if it’s just another scheme.

I found it very interesting, because unless you are watching a proclaimed Christian program like “Touched by an Angel” or “Little House on the Prairie”, it is rare to see a national network actually embracing Jesus as Lord and Savior as the way to change your life. Kudos CBS!

Watch it online:

http://www.cbs.com/primetime/the_good_wife/video/?pid=i1U2__M_8UGyLvSeMKDUPgFKE8Vvsm8n&vs=Full%20Episodes&play=true

Traditions

Traditions are those beliefs and/or customs that have been passed down from generation to generation. One of the best examples is our celebration of Christmas. We celebrate Christmas on December 25th, as the day that Jesus was born, but historically it has been agreed that he was born closer to the month of April. You can hear people say that you can’t celebrate Christmas without a tree or decorations; the truth is those are merely distractions, there were no trees or decorations at the manger when Jesus was born.

 Traditions have colored the way we do things and have distracted us from the real meaning. In terms of holidays, I boycotted traditional Christmas last year and don’t get me started on Easter. All my readers have five minutes to explain to me the relationship between eggs, bunnies and the resurrection… Go ahead, I can wait!

 There are people who have chosen careers because it’s a tradition in their family for everyone to be a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, or a policeman.  Some people go to a certain college because that’s where their family members went, not because it has the best program for their interests.

God made us unique. He took his time to form each and every one of us, and every one of us has See full size imagea different purpose in the body of Christ. Following traditions, in my humble opinion, are not either good or bad, unless of course the tradition harms the person or others; but it’s not necessary in the implementation of God’s plan for us. We need to ask ourselves what opportunities we have wasted because that’s not what we usually do, the way we usually do it, or the way the people around us did it?

How about when our blessing comes in a different package than what we are used to or expecting, and because we’re not familiar with it we pass it right by? Can you believe that the greatest lesson of marital love I learned from a homeless man? I was part of a ministry that was feeding the homeless. This man came to our line and grabbed his portion of food; something in him caught my attention. All the others sat in front of where we were and ate, he ran with his food to hide. Another person from the ministry and I followed him at a distance, his wife was under some boxes sleeping, probably after heavy drug use. She was very weak, he told her that he had brought her something and lifts her head up with his arms and started feeding her his food. We told them that we had enough for him to eat too. He thanked us but told us that he had come to the line just to make sure that she would get something to eat.  When I think about how a husband should love his wife, I think of them. It was not wrapped up in the prettiest package, but it blessed me. How many lessons or blessings have we missed because of our pre-conceived notions and traditions?

Hidden in a dream

I had a dream last night that I’m trying to decipher. I know some dreams are just that; dreams. But I really think this one was trying to speak to my heart.

Before I moved to this state, I had built my house “from scratch” (bear with the baking reference, I don’t know the first thing about construction, but talk to me about cakes and we are in business) I had the property, in a way, and I sat with the contractor and designed what was my dream house within my budget and space. Within a few months that house was built. I was able to choose every window, every tile, every appliance, and every color.

In my dream I was back at that house, but it looked very different from the real house that I lived in. It looked like I had just moved in, had a lot of boxes spreaded out and a few pieces of furniture.  I was happy in there because it was a canvas of many things I could do with the house. Looking out the window, I saw a neighbor, who is actually someone who was my neighbor at the real house, who told me she wanted to buy the house. I told her that I needed to consult with my mother ( just like in the real house, my house was built inside her property, so even though the house was mine, the land wasn’t ) My mother was hesitant to the idea, but we agreed to at least let her see the inside of the house.

As we walked through the house with her, I found perks that I had not seen before. I saw an old piano that just needed some painting, a collection of very cute elephants in gold, the house that in the real life had only two bedrooms keep growing on the inside, and all the sudden had four bedrooms and five bathrooms. The real house had only one. It had this huge kitchen. As I kept walking through the house showing my neighbor the selling points, I started discovering that I may not want to get rid of this house, that there was a lot in it that I had not seen that was of value in there and that I could do so much in that house; yes, with some money, patience and tender loving care.

In these last few days I had toyed with the idea of selling my current house, but I don’t think that this is what this dream was about at all.  I think this dream is speaking to me and the things that are going in my life at this moment. God is showing me how he’s cleaning my house, my spiritual house, and how many hidden gifts are there that I have not seen, not because their hidden, but because I have not taken the opportunity to look. That I should tour my house and see how many valuable things are there. That I’m in the right spot of being a brand new canvas, where HE can build a new life for me, a beautiful one. I thought I only had two rooms, he showed me all the other ones. To me that spoke about how much more love he can accommodate in me if I allow him. It speaks to how many more people can be accommodated in my heart to shelter. Just like in the dream, to get that house in shape is going to take money, patience and tender loving care; who better than God to provide it all if I just let him do his job and allow myself to shut up.

At the end of the dream I had a little boy  filled with dirt. I grabbed him by the hand and entered him into the shower to be cleansed. To me that’s a promise, that I will be holding in my heart.

God keeps reminding me to be still and know that he is God. I think at this point I know that he has a lot of things that he’s going to do with me, in this new canvas of my life. He has cleared my past and made me new. I need to learn how to crawl before I start running and I tend to forget that even when every time I run I end up hitting my head against the wall. Yes, I can be slow.

So I guess my thought about that dream is that I need to sit down, shut up and enjoy the journey of where God is trying to take me. He has promised to have a great future for me and I trust that, therefore no matter how hard things can look now, there’s nowhere to go from here but up.