Monday, July 18, 2011

It's a God-thing?

 There's a little catch phrase that has been increasingly heard in Christian circles in the past few years-"it's a God-thing".  I've never used it that I can recall. For some reason, it doesn't sit quite right with me. Not that I'm offended when I hear it.  But as I've thought about the popularity and growing use of this phrase, I've made an interesting observation. I've never heard it used in the context of trial or hardship. It always seems to be said when something extraordinarily good happens, or when good fortune comes along. People whose circumstances seem to come together or work out unexpectedly or coincidentally to their benefit like to say, "it was a God-thing!"
But we know that God works just as much in our our bad days, when things don't work out like we wish. Our best growing happens through trial. We learn to depend on Him more when we realize how limited we are in our own strength. So I'm thinking, why don't we ever say, "it's a God-thing" when we've had patience to deal one more day with that intolerable co-worker? Or when a family member is dying and it doesn't seem fair but we have faith in the sovereignty of God anyway? Or when we've lost a job and don't know how our family will survive? Or a friend has betrayed us and we're hurt and confused? Is that a God-thing? Can we separate Him from the uglier days, when things happen that we would never choose? Are we to keep Him compartmentalized over here with the happy moments, the promotions, the "miracles", the joyful chance encounters? Isn't He also in the difficult circumstances? I know He wants to be. That's where He shapes us, if we let Him. That's where He develops perseverance in us. But He can only do His work if we're looking for Him there - in that hardship, that trial that we'd never choose, but that He allows for a reason. Sometimes we learn the reason, and sometimes only He knows. Either way, it's all good, if He's in control. ran into Cousin Sally in July in terminal C at the Atlanta airport. The same exact terminal in the same airport you saw her in 3 years ago in July! It's a God-thing! Okay. But how about this: you've just gotten a diagnosis, and it's not good. You know you have a long road of suffering ahead. You cry out to God in anguish, not understanding why. But you lean into Him, and you accept the love and support of others, and you ask for more faith.  And you find ways to be grateful. Grateful. How is that possible?

Well, it's a God-thing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I love Laura Story's music. She is a young, christian artist who not only sings and plays piano and guitar, but is also a gifted writer with spiritual wisdom beyond her years. Although her next CD, "Blessings", won't be released until April, I heard her title song from the CD on the radio and then looked it up online and have since listened to it a dozen times. One line continues to play in my head:

"What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching in this life
 is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy?"

The point of the song is this, I think:  we pray and wait for our disappointments and suffering to end, but often times the greatest blessings God gives us come from those very trials. And a very important purpose for our trials is to remind us that we are strangers here and there is something better fact, something altogether perfect, satisfying, completely fulfilling.

This is not our home. That's why life is so uncomfortable. Or it should be anyway. Though we are to work toward contentment, this life is not supposed to be satisfying. If God would have His way, life should leave us wanting. Wanting more of Him. Wanting Heaven. So where is the line between being content as Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians, and yearning for something more than what this world can give us? Or does He intend for us to blend the two? Does true contentment only come when we are desperately seeking Him?
1 Timothy 6:6 says "there is great gain in godliness with contentment." That seems to suggest that you can try to be godly while being discontent, but you're not going to gain much spiritually. But seek God with all your heart and strive to be content with a simple life, and you will gain much.

Part of contentment in this life is being okay with trials. Easier said than done, but then God never said it would be easy. But He did promise He would give all the strength we would need for every trial, and better yet, He promises that one day all our trials and suffering will be over and Heaven will be our home. But until then, He wants us to take one day at a time, desperately seeking Him and finding blessings even in our disappointments. And not overlooking the blessing that our pain reminds us that this is not our home. There's a better home awaiting us.

 What a glorious thought.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Parable of the Lost Games

My friend's nine-year old grandson got a hand-held gaming device for Christmas, along with some games. On a trip to visit other relatives over the holidays, he lost track of three of the games and realized they were missing when he got home. Being an exceptionally sweet and sensitive boy, he was completely distraught and heartbroken, not just because he didn't have the games, but because he felt responsible for them. My friend told me he was so upset that he wept and wept in the arms of his mother till he fell asleep, only to wake up distraught again.

I'm reminded of a parable Jesus told when the Pharisees were passing judgment on Him for attracting sinners. The parable was about a woman who lost something valuable and was so distraught over it that she turned her house upside down and wouldn't rest until she found it. When she finally did find it, she was so elated that she invited people over and threw a party to celebrate.

What was Jesus' point? (He always has a point.) The reason he associated with sinners was because they're lost! And that bothered Him. So much so that He was always looking for an opportunity to turn men toward the Father. Their lost state was distressing to Him. And when one turned to God, there was nothing more satisfying to Him.

Another thing Jesus taught repeatedly was how we are to be like children in our innocence and faith. My friend's grandson could think of nothing else but finding his lost games. It weighed heavily on his tender heart. As he gets older he's going to grow and mature and realize that people are the most important things. And that was Jesus' point. People all around us are lost without Him; some are our family and friends. As adults striving to have childlike faith, how distraught are we over the lost? Do we weep? How important is it to us that they be "found"? Jesus' parable made it clear that nothing on this earth should be more important.

Today the lost games were found in a relative's home. I don't know if the little boy has received this happy news. I suppose he'll find out when he gets home from school. And I bet he's going to want to celebrate.
That's what happens when what's lost has been found.