APRIL 26, 2010 – DAY 104
APRIL 26, 2010 – DAY 104
The struggles keep coming. On April 11th I slipped and fell in my kitchen, breaking my right leg in two places. Richard’s immediate reaction was one of anger and his response was to start barking orders. I call it the drill Sergeant mentality. The military is a crisis management organization. The organization is designed to respond quickly and efficiently to the world’s crisis. It’s people are highly trained to be calm, assertive, and responsive in a crises. Unfortunately, this creeps into our everyday lives. It is especially prevalent in the psyche’s of servicemen and women deployed to a war zone. His response, while inappropriate, was understandable, and my response to hang up on him was equally inappropriate and understandable. The next day found us both apologizing via instant messenger for our lack of empathy.
I think what broke my heart the most was his confession to me in that I.M. session, “I just feel like we get to a place where we are finding some balance and it’s just another hit. Where is God and why do things have to be so hard?” This hurt me because I recognized that he felt my pain and frustration as his own. He took the burden of my broken leg as his own, while 8000 miles away. His anger of the day before had more to do with his frustration with not being here. He couldn’t be my night in shining armor who carried me to the car, and took me to the hospital. He couldn’t be the strong man who could hold me up in the shower and help me wash my hair. He couldn’t be the loving, caring husband who cooked meals, did laundry, and managed a household in my place. He couldn’t help.
However, it also hurt me because he couldn’t see God in the struggles as well as the joy. I have to say that this negativity he seems to wallow in is my greatest challenge in our marriage. It truly does suck the life right out of me. No matter how often I quote Jeremiah 29:11 or the Sermon on the mount the message does not seem to register. I remember this past summer when we were both unemployed, job hunting, living off drill pay, reserve orders and temp jobs. It was insane. However, I look back and see how we survived. How we, often with the help of others, kept food on the table, a roof over our heads, the lights on, and the internet and phone connected. I honestly don’t know how we did it and see the miracle in that survival. Richard just sees the struggle, the despair, the frustration. This saddens me.
I remember a conversation we had during that time about the book of Job. I had gotten up ahead of him and was watching Joyce Meyer on the computer. He got his coffee and went out on the patio. As soon as the program was over I poured a fresh cup and joined him. I found him reading his Bible, the book of Job. It was ironic as that had been what the Joyce Meyer broadcast has been about. I mentioned this and he started the conversation with some version of that age old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I responded with, “I think you’re missing the point of Job’s story.” Joyce Meyer that morning had refreshed in my mind the lessons I had already learned and I got my Bible and began to discuss the following with my husband.
When I was in college my Old Testament History professor sited this scripture in his very first lecture. “As it was in the days of Noah so shall it be in days of the Son of Man. What was the great sin of Noah’s days? It was living as if there was no God.” What I learned from Dr. Hopson is that God is God and there is no greater insult to Him than for us to ignore Him. Mankind makes decisions without considering Him and focuses on impermanent things, like careers, money, success, the accumulation of things. Any recognition of God begins with humility.
We spent over four hours of class time out of a nine hour class on the book of Job. We learned that the book of Job is a morality tale, written like a fable; much like the stories of Greek mythology, and that the point of Job wasn’t whether or not if he was a real person who actually experienced this tale of woe, but rested in God’s response to Job when Job was at his lowest. Job has argued his righteousness, his lack of sin, his uprightness within his community to his three fair-weather friends. He has given examples of his good life and his clean living and has questioned why such calamity has fallen upon him. He claims not to deserve it and that God has somehow been unfair. He, like most of us who face difficult times, has fallen into the “woe is me” syndrome. At which point God speaks, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man and I will question you, and you shall answer me.” God then proceeds to list His greatness and the mighty works of His hand for four chapters – phrasing each statement as a question, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand”. Ultimately, Job’s redemption begins with humility, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” And, his redemption is completed when God calls upon Him to forgive and pray for his accusers.
Job was characterized as a good man, righteous man, upstanding in all his deeds. It becomes evident that he took great pride in his own goodness, owing the blessing in his life to that instead of the generous gift of a loving God. However, it is apparent in scripture that the selfish and the prideful will be sent to hell no matter how pious their lives may appear.
Dr. Hobson came into class the day after he had finished his lectures on Job and offered us a wonderful closing illustration on the topic. He had been on an archeological dig in the middle east some years back and while there had purchased a little wooden figurine that was a replica of one of the ancient god’s that at one time had been worshiped in that region. He pulled this little idol out of his pocket and placed it on the podium saying, “This is my little god. I carry him in my pocket. When I’m stressed out or worried or upset I just reach in my pocket and rub him and I feel better. If I run across a sick person I take my god out and wave him at the person so they can get healed. If I have a problem I don’t understand I take him out and talk to him and beg him to fix my problem.” By this time, he had the class chuckling, smiling and nodding. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I think you get my point. We are like Job and we are like those folks of Noah’s day and those of Sodom and Gomorrah. We try to keep God in our pockets. I’m sorry to tell you. He’s too big and He doesn’t fit. God is not a big aspirin tablet. We must pay attention to Him and acknowledge Him for His greatness. If we do not we are no better than the Pharisees. We are as Paul wrote to Timothy, ‘having a form of godliness but denying its power.'” (II Timothy 3:5)
Richard and I spent hours that morning going over these truths. However, his response and reality remained the same. “We don’t deserve this. We’re good people. We try to do our best and do right by others. Why can’t we get a break?” I left the conversation frustrated and broken hearted, and still remain so. For whatever reason, he’s trapped in the dark. He cannot see that breaking my leg now, while we have insurance is a blessing. He can’t see how many people have risen up to assist and help me. Despite his absence, I am not alone. He can’t see how blessed we are to have such great kids who have cared for me and acted like men in his place. Each day that he’s gone this is my urgent prayer. He learns the lessons of Job. He learns that joy and peace are not about your situation, but about knowing a powerful God. He learns, most importantly, that God isn’t as concerned about us having an easy life, but about how much we look like Jesus at the end of it.