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What does your book say?

I think God fully understands how we interpret the trials and long periods of seemingly receiving no answer from him - those times when we just want to pull our hair out, scream little, stomp our feet, and generally tell the world that God isn't listening or that he doesn't care about us at this very moment! We all have those times - admit it.  We chafed against the agony of the waiting, expected a different outcome and was disappointed by the present one, and whined when things just didn't go as we expected.  All the while, we have one thing we do with some consistency - complain.  Even the most consistent Christian has moments when the agony just gets to us and we find ourselves complaining a little, or perhaps a little too much!  The most amazing part of this is that God doesn't turn his back on us, even when we are heavily engaged in the complaint process.

Job answered:  I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me.  I should never have opened my mouth!  I’ve talked too much, way too much.  I’m ready to shut up and listen.”  (Job 40:3-5 MSG)

Job was declared to be a righteous man - one whose life lined up with the Word of God and whose testimony was nothing but exemplary.  Yet, in the midst of trials too innumerable to recount right now, he finds himself at the end of his rope.  Even those who come to provide some form of counsel or comfort in his life have the misconception that the evil which has become him must be as a result of some injustice on his part, or sin he has not confessed. Family has been lost, the flocks and herds have been devastated, crops have failed, storehouses are empty, and even his body is consumed with some form of disease.  How on earth can he live after so much has happened in his life?  How can he "regroup" and make a go of it again?  

Does it surprise you that the Book of Job is 42 chapters in length with the majority of those chapters being dialogue about how Job feels - the emotional upheaval he is experiencing and the surrounding misunderstanding that occurs when emotions are able to get us in a fray?  Two chapters describe his state as a righteous man, with blessings of family, financial well-being, and good standing in his community.  Then we have this "filler" of about 38 chapters of complaint, advice from friends, expressions of grief, and the musings of a man who cannot comprehend fully the tragedy he finds himself within.  Following this excessive account of Job's woeful state, we have 4 chapters which sum up God's reply to Job's musings and the state of heart change which God will bring when Job is ready to hear what he has to say.  I wonder if God were to put all the musings of our heart into a book how many chapters would be related to our complaints and heart agonies?  There might just be more than we realize!

At some point, we all come to the place we are ready to close our mouths and really listen to God.  At that moment, God steps in and sets things straight for us.  It isn't always the best perspective we have been maintaining when we have been in this emotional state of complaint and agonizing - so his word come to set us straight again when we most need his intervention.  There have been times in my own life where I have said words pretty similar to Job's "I am ready to shut up and listen, God" - but those words were preceded by a whole lot of chapters filled with complaint, misunderstanding, agony, and even a little mistrust.  If those chapters were to be read back to me, I probably would be ashamed to find how much my complaint revealed about the selfishness of my heart, and the lack of trust I have in the one who watches over my life.

The most amazing part of this accounting is the freedom Job exercises in communicating with God.  His heart has betrayed his lack of trust in God - his mouth being the vessel which uncovered his betrayal.  In those words of agony recorded for all of history to read, we see the heart of a man who desperately loves God.  It is not the heart of a man turning his back on God, but one seeking to understand God more.  I wonder how much of our own "musings" and "complaints" are merely times when we are coming to know God a little better?  Maybe this is part of how it is we sort out the thoughts and intents of our heart - opening us up to the possibilities of grace and blessing God desires for us.  Job was restored all he lost - even more.  The "in between" is what brought him to the place of readiness to accept what God had in store for him.  Maybe this is what your "in between" place is all about today.  Perhaps God is preparing you for "more" - something you won't be ready for until the musing and agony of your heart is fully expressed.

God doesn't shun those whose heart pours out the agony within - he embraces them.  He doesn't turn his back on their difficulties - he uses them to uncover the blessings he has in store on the other side of those difficult days.  He opens us up to possibilities - not through field after field of wildflowers and green meadows, but through deserts and prickly fields.  When we feel the heat and feel the pricks of the desert thorns, maybe we cry out a little louder than we ought, or more in a form of complaint than praise.  God isn't surprised by our cries - he knows our heart!  Just sayin!

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