Whether your a bible-reader or not, almost all of us have heard of Job. He was a righteous dude. I mostly study Job to understand a human’s worst suffering. Job was IN hell, ON Earth. There’s one thing that sticks out to me regarding Job’s “friends.” I use quotes because if you study their role in his life, you’re left wondering if they really were. In a good portion of Job, his friends are there to offer pithy opinions and wisdom. What I particularly gleaned was the position of Job’s friends. They picked the proverbial posture of looking down on Job. But The Message author Eugene Peterson offers an alternative posture for friends who are suffering, he says: “We need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them.” Fireworks went off in my brain. This is genius! What if, instead of looking down in pity on godly-good people suffering, we look UP…
1) We look UP to the sky to pray for them.
2) We look UP to show RESPECT that God has deemed them worthy of such suffering.
3) And we look UP because when Jesus was suffering on the cross, his good friends stood near and looked up to Him.
As you think of anyone you know suffering/struggling, I hope this encourages you to shift your gaze. Who knows, maybe God will use your upward gaze TO them, to HELP them get on their feet again!
Guys, I’ve been a girl for four decades. I’m not an expert, but can we agree I’m more than an amateur? Then if you will, allow me to share five abridged things to know about us, girls:
1️⃣We get moody that time of the month. We get bloated, we get zits, we eat bad, we double our bathroom visits. All that is reason to be moody. We are sorry we are, but please don’t have high expectations that we shouldn’t be.
2️⃣True, we are more “emotional” than you. But don’t make that assumption with all of us. I, personally, am not an emotional person. Passionate? Yes. Emotional? No. Raul has done a great job of figuring this out, accepting it and navigating it. Guys, be sure to know your girl!
3️⃣No matter how much we play it down, our birthday IS a big deal. I’ve seen this a 100 times. Woman tells man don’t make a big deal out of my birthday. Man takes her literally. Man pays for it for a year til he can redeem himself at the next birthday. 🙂
4️⃣We age and with that comes change. Women are keenly aware of their changes (vertical lines around the mouth, horizontal lines across the forehead; moles; saggier boobs; raisin-hands, etc.). We have to live with the descent of our youth every day. So your compliments mean a lot. There’s no one we’d rather get a compliment from than you.
5️⃣The bible says, “You want but you do not ask.” LOL! It’s funny, but that actually translates to us, too. You want wifey to do something for you? In the kitchen? In the bedroom? In the spending? Ask her! Because the other verse is also true, “ask and ye shall receive!” (and ladies, help me out, if your man asks nicely, hook him up!)
At a medical facility, I saw this pic that said: we want to do everything possible to manage your pain. The word “manage” started spinning in my head like a rotiessiere chicken! Shouldn’t a medical facility like a hospital, urgent care or doctor’s complex be able to eliminate pain, not just manage it? They have all the resources and tools one would need to do so. Yet that’s not the promise they make. Segue, please… God has everything He needs to eleminate our pain. He has cures, miracles and remedies man could never dream of, much less perform. But why then, like this sign, He sometimes just “manages” our pain? I think Paul answers that for us in 2 Corinthians 10. He said, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” I’m learning to see some ongoing pains as…wait for it…a win-win! Crazy? Hear me out: I walk with God who could give me a miracle or cure at any moment! Win #1! But if He doesn’t, He will manage that pain so that others who hurt see Him THROUGH it. Win #2! If you are hurting, I hope you are walking with God through it: the pain manager who is for you, and working through you. Your pain is not in vain. ❣️
It’s one of the biggest questions in life. How do godly people hurt others? I’d make it the 8th Wonder of the World if I was in charge. But it happens. It’s happened to me, I’ve caused it to happen to others, and it will happen to me again. Although there are many tips, verses, and resources I could include in this post, let’s just take one mini-bite outta it. Several years ago, when I was hurt by godly people, someone recommended a book called “Exquisite Agony.” It’s a short, unassuming book, that beheld the biggest revelation of my adult life. In short, I had to learn to adjust my gaze–not on my hurters around me, but on the Holy one above me (who’s sovereignty knew it was gonna happen). The God I love and the God my hurters love is a sovereign God and nothing happens by his “oops.” So if others hurt me, God knew, God knows and God allowed. This was HUGE for me. It allowed me to reroute my pain and anger OFF the ones who caused it and ON the One who could do something about it. Why do godly people hurt us? Who knows. But when they do, trust God with ALL YOU GOT. Walk with HIM every step of your healing days. Consult with him, cry to him, and yes, even get mad and ask, “Why?!” And then, one day like Joseph, you will be able to say, “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” THIS is what makes the agony…exquisite.
Is it worth it? Are all the ups and downs of a Christian life, worth it? Is it worth having family make fun of you? Is it worth being discriminated against? Is it worth giving up the alcohol, the drugs, the indulgent parties? Is it worth loving the one who hurt you? Is all of this worth it? Yes. Yes it is. Soon after I signed up for Christianity I knew it wasn’t gonna be easy. But I have also learned it is worth it. Every trial, valley, storm, ailment, rejection, fear I go through, I go through with God and come out better because of it. And the only reason I come out of it is: He walked me through it. I love this promise, “for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Yes, at times, God has been silent. But He has never been absent. He has never abandoned me in pain or forsaken me in circumstance. So is this Christian life worth it? Yes. Because without “Christ” in my “Christian,” I would just be an “ian.” Just kidding. Without Christ, I would have given up a long time ago. It’s worth it on Earth–it makes us better/stronger/wiser and others encounter God watching us not give up. It’s worth it in Heaven because when we stand before God, it’ll make sense that His cross was worth it too.
First, let me start by saying that for those of us with mental afflictions, we are thankful for you! We may struggle with something you have together, but you inspire us to stay at it! I believe it’s a Soveriegm God who makes the world go ’round with BOTH. As far as being like us, I wish I had a Dr. Seuss book that could explain in rhyme and simplicity what it’s like. Because, it’s complicated! It is a mind that can live in two poles. Imagine living in either the North Pole or the South Pole, and not having a home to stay in between. Furthermore, never knowing when, or for how long, you’ll be at one pole or the other. Welcome to a bipolar’s brain–or for that matter, a brain that jockeys between anxiety and depression. It’s arguable one could presume this would be impossible. But that’s where someone like me would stand up and say: but with God, all things are possible. God is my equator in my biPolar mind. God is the hope at the end of my rope. God is my anchor. God is the cushion where my erratic thoughts land. God is in my mind, in unexplainable drifts, where no sane person would want to go. God holds my mind in the palm of His hand, lest it be too fragile for my body to carry it. A couple years ago, I had an unexpected visitor with an unexpected gift. She said I had been [of all things] on her mind. It was an ornament with the word “Hope” on it. How did she know to drop that by? Maybe like I said earlier, God knows our world needs both kinds of us: those who live struggling in their minds, and those who give HOPE to those who do.
In Acts 16, the bible tells us: “She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.’ This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And instantly it left her.” It can be easy to get mad at people who exasperate us with their demons, literally and figuratively. In the above account, a girl was wearing out the Apostle Paul with hers. Day after day, depleting his energy, time, patience and focus. I did some research on this text, and (for a simpleton’s sake like me) it broke down like this: The Greek word used for ‘exasperated’ is ‘grieved’ (διαπονηθεὶς). Basically, it’s ‘angry’ and ‘sad.’ Paul was sad at the condition of the girl, and mad at the ongoing, outward display of the evil that possessed her. To be simple: Paul wasn’t mad at her, Paul was mad at what was IN her. And Paul loved her enough to help get it OUT. As I get to do life with people who have demons of their own (addiction, rebellion, criminal behavior, suicidal thoughts) I want to love them so I can help them! Paul’s encounter encourages me to do that in three ways. One, that my” διαπονηθεὶς” be anger mixed WITH sadness/compassion. Two, that I do what I can, when I can, to HELP! And lastly–that like Paul–I sometimes get to see the demon flee, and the brand new person rise up!