So where in the world did the blog title “Life is a Bowl of Wedgies” come from? The theme behind my blog relates back to years of intense infertility treatments, unanswered prayers (according to our wishes) and what seemed like hosting a gazillion baby showers for everyone including old people in Europe. It was during that time that my seemingly perfect world became tainted.
When you endure pain…..not just pain of infertility but with ANY kind of intense pain it’s easy to find yourself asking these three questions repetitively:
1) What did I do wrong?
2) Why am I being punished?
3) How can I get out of this situation ASAP?”
And if you’re not asking those questions, most likely, someone around you is. It’s interesting to me that many people in the Bible asked these same questions.
The “dark night of the soul”, as John of the Cross put it, bring us to a place of raw vulnerability before God. And He’s okay with our questions. As I came to God with my questions in a place of sheer desperation, I found several things in scripture that encouraged my heart greatly.
One was the life of Job. He was a wealthy, godly, well respected, REAL man. My mind wonders if he could be compared to Billy Graham or Mother Theresa (well, that one breaks down pretty quickly because of the gender thing) anyways, God gave satan permission to test Job. Actually, God initiated the dialogue with satan that led to the testing of Job.
Why am I so uncomfortable with that? But it’s the truth and I accept it as such.
So satan has permission and a recommendation from God to test Job. And we all know satan plays dirty. Here’s what he did to Job: All in the matter of hours Job lost all his cattle (his livelihood), servants, and his children. And this was just the first test. There was more where that came from.
Job’s response to the first test was utter despair yet we are told he fell to the ground in worship. He just lost all ten children while eating together at the oldest son’s house. And after he tore his robe and shaved his head, He worshiped God.
His second test involved painful sores from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head. He was taking broken pottery and scraping himself with it. And it was at this moment that Job’s wife says to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” I have to wonder if she thought she was going to be “next” on the test list. This would be a natural concern because Job’s day wasn’t going so well at this point. But that’s the skeptical side of me that I wish wasn’t there. Maybe the reality is that she was a wife in extreme pain watching her husband suffer. Either way, it was bad advice.
Job’s response captivated me from the first time I read it. He said, “Oh foolish woman, shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” And get this….he didn’t even get in trouble for calling his wife a fool. It says “In all this, Job did not sin.” He was spot on in putting her in her place because who are we to curse or not accept what God has purposefully put in our path?
Sometimes our thinking assumes the hardship is coming as a result of sin and it’s a punishment directly from God. And while God is just and he does allow consequences to draw us back to himself this is not always the case behind a painful situation. Sometimes God puts hardship in the life of a devoted Christ follower for the simple purpose of bringing glory to himself or for deepening our ability to relate to and comfort others with the same sorrow. Sometimes it’s to prove to satan that he really does have devoted followers that will stand up under intense pain and pressure for the sake of Christ.
Reading these words from Job almost gave me a release and permission to stop emotionally/mentally fighting the hardship of infertility. It gave me the understanding that God allowed my infertility. He may have even invited it or suggested it. And it wasn’t something I was being punished for. Don’t get me wrong: infertility sucks and it still did after my discovery of Job’s response to his hell on earth but it gave me a different perspective which helped the pain of the guilt that I battled at one time.
The other verses that have been a good reminder to me that there is purpose in the pain are:
“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good…..it was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Ps. 119:67 &71 (NIV)
“…..and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” Ps. 119:75 (NIV)
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1: 2-4 (Message)
I guess my heart just goes out to the person who is walking a painful journey and possibly wondering, or worse, has been told, “you don’t have enough faith” or “your sin is blocking the blessing”. There’s a place for self examination. And if and when there is known sin hindering our lives, then by all means, lets ask God to help us with that. He would love to. He’s totally in the business of forgiveness. That is the very reason he gave up his life for us. And when we deal with that lets be encouraged that God is not punishing us. Out of all the people he could choose to walk the path, as hard as it may be, he chose YOU/ME for a purpose.
Job couldn’t see the other side when he was in the middle of his “stuff” but God would eventually give him back twice as much as he lost. He would bless him with ten more children. He restored what had been broken down and made it even more beautiful.
So right when you think your life is nothing but a bowl of wedgies try to remember that God has ordained everything that happens and it’s for a specific reason. And it’s good because God is good. All the time!