Sunday, February 21, 2016

Trust in the Lord

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be a healing for your flesh
    and a refreshment for your body.
Proverbs 3:5-6

He [Job] said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.
Job 1:21-22

Last night, I was watching House of Cards on Netflix. In the third episode, a   young woman has been killed in a car accident in the main character's (South Carolina Congressman Frank Underwood played by Kevin Spacey) congressional district. Because she was texting about a peach water tower that looks like a butt and was built because of Frank, he speaks at her parents’ church to try to win them over and not take the blame for the accident.  While Frank's speech was politically motivated, it made a great deal of sense. Underwood frames an old-school passionate sermon around the idea of hate, going so far as to yell,  “I hate you, God” in front of a South Carolina congregation. He’s able to connect to the parishioners by making them equals, saying they’ve all done this before when feeling soul-crushing  loss, and who among them are feeling that today. 

Spacey's character's speech is based on the fact that at some point we have all felt betrayed by God. We have all wanted to, whether we did or not, scream "I hate you, God." In Matthew 27:46, Jesus didn't say,  "I hate you, God" but he did shout, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Which   is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I think we've all felt that way. I know  I have felt that way for the past three months. Spacey's character though quotes Proverbs 3:5 by saying,  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight." In my crisis of faith, I may have questioned God, but my belief in Him never wavered.

Why did Jesus shout, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He did so because he was in pain. We think God has left us when we are in pain, pain so excruciating we don't want to live, but  God has never and will never leave us. I was thinking yesterday how I'd expected to rely on my friend who'd lived in a climate similar to Vermont to get me through and provide advice during the winter. However, God chose for this to be a mild winter. Is it because I didn't have the guidance I needed/wanted for a harsh winter? Maybe.

These past few months have not been my only crisis of faith. When I came to terms with my sexuality, I struggled with the fact that I'd been taught that same-sex  attraction would send me to hell. I asked myself how could a God that says He loves me, who created me, condemn me to hell for how he created me. I tried to be attracted to women, but I just wasn't. My attraction was to men. God never abandoned me on my search for answers. Instead,  He guided me to those answers. Just as He is guiding me to a better understanding of the tragedies that befall all of  us.

No man or woman in the Bible suffered more than Job. Job is presented as a good and prosperous family man who is beset with horrendous disasters that take away all  he holds dear, including his offspring, his health, and his property. He struggles to understand his situation and begins a search for the answers to his difficulties. God rewards Job's obedience during his travails by restoring his health, doubling his original wealth,  and giving him seven new sons and three new daughters, which bore him great grandchildren before he died.

Job, though,  is an inspiration because his faith did not waiver. He did not feel betrayed by God. He did not have a crisis of faith. When he said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” He meant that the Lord knew what he was doing. In all this,  Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing (Job 1:22). I think we can learn from Job. God is watching out for us. No matter what life deals us, God is there with us.

By the way, on a different note, through the help of a close friend, I have found a church  of Christ in the area. I'm going to try it out for the first time tomorrow. I hope and pray that it is a church that will give me that sense of home,  and will provide the healing  I need.


silvereagle said...

Another well thought out post from your heart. Thanks!
And do try to attend and become a part of the church recommended by your friend. That act will help you immensely....get your back close to your Lord, and introduce you to other people in the area if you will let it. Good luck!!

Michael Dodd said...

I recall a conversation with a wise old priest years ago when I was in Boston: "The longer I live, the less I know about God. But the more I trust God."

Susan said...

A beautiful post and picture, Joe. So heartfelt. You are making excellent progress. I have hope you will find the comfort you seek in your own church of Christ. Hugs. <3

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe. You mention that Christ felt forsaken when he said "Eli Eli lama sabachthani". But I think his last words may not be questioning God's support. Their purpose was in fact the opposite.

They are the start of a beautiful prayer and prophecy in Psalm 22.

The psalm starts with a lamentation in a time of crisis, a prophecy that describes how the Messiah would suffer and by citing it, Jesus reminds us that the prophecy was fulfilled by his crucifixion word by word.

The second part of psalm 22 (from verse 19 on) speaks of the Lord's salvation and the joys to come and also delivers the promise of eternal life for all who trust the Lord.

26: The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!

So it works great in the sense of your article in any case. Just wanted to add the reference to the psalm.