“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. I'll always be with you.”
~A.A. Milne, from "Winnie the Pooh"

Friday, January 27, 2012

Strength Through Adversity...And Keeping The Faith

It seems that the more I immerse myself into the DS community, the more I stumble across people who are scared, who are worried, who are hurting in places that they rarely let the rest of the world see. When those tiny glimpses into the pain inside show themselves, I find my own heart filling with tiny fractures, filling with a tiny bit of sadness as well.
You see, I have always hated to see others in pain. Even stories that I read or see on the news have the power to nearly drown me in sorrow and wash my face with tears.
Genuine Empathy. The ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and genuinely feel the pain of whatever struggle they are going through. The very real wish that you could reach through the TV screen, or the computer screen, or the pages of a newspaper and do anything possible to lighten their load in whatever way is possible, even if all that is available is a willing ear, an open, caring heart, and a hug that says one way or the other it will all be okay.
Something this world could use a whole lot more of, in my opinion.......

This morning, I again caught a glimpse of someone wrapped solidly in their sadness, bearing a load that no one should have to. And as always, I found myself wishing desperately that it was as easy as jumping in the car, or picking up the phone, to let her know that I care, that my heart is broken FOR her, that God has not abandoned her. But it isn't always that easy in this world of far-flung friendships. In my efforts to find the right words to say, God placed on my heart a story.
For those of you who grew up in any type of church setting, or who are church goers now, the story of Job is not a new one to you. It is one that I have probably always known but have not thought of in more years than I can count. And if I am honest, I'd have to say that once again, just like the story of Mary, it's not something that I have considered deeply or in relation to any struggles I have experienced in my own life. Job was, to my childish mind, a character in a story, a man whose thoughts and very real pain I never truly considered.
Job was a rich man, a blessed man. He was also good in deed and in character. He worshiped God and faithfully gave thanks for the many blessings that He had seen fit to give him.
One day, God and Satan were having a little chat and God pointed Job out as a shining example that faith and goodness were not lost, which set the Devil to thinking. Satan told God that the reason that Job was faithful and turned from evil was because of the blessings that God had bestowed upon him, to which God disagreed. I can see in my mind Satan rubbing his hands together in glee as he offered what amounted to a little wager, that God would allow Satan to do his worst, take away everything from Job, and Satan believed that THEN amid the ashes of his former charmed life, Job would curse God. God fervently denied that anything would turn Job from Him, and agreed to allow Satan free rein, as long as he did not cause harm to Job himself.
It started with his livestock....one herd after another stolen, burnt up, dead. Job remained faithful. So Satan set a horrible windstorm upon the land, which destroyed the home of Job's oldest son, killing all of his children in one fell swoop. Job still remained faithful.
Satan returned to God, saying that despite the proof in front of him, he was not convinced of Job's faithfulness. He requested that God allow him to place his hand on Job. God reluctantly agreed with the stipulation that Job could not be killed. Poor Job, who had already lost so much, was struck down with blistering sores.......His wife by this time was urging him to turn from God, yet Job remained steady in the belief that God would care for him..........

I find that this story from thousands of years ago answers many questions that we all seem to have about why bad things happen to good people, while it seems that good things happen to those who are not. I see it a little as God chooses those who He knows will remain faithful to Him, who will continue to see the blessings which He has seen fit to bestow despite the cloudiness of the sorrow in their hearts because He knows that tragedy and heart ache will come together and forge something beautiful out of the ashes of life as we know it.
God doesn't harm us. God doesn't give us troubles. Satan does. And it seems to me a little like God and the Devil chatting about Job; God is bragging on His kids and the Devil is jealous. It stands to reason that the very people God is proudest of are the ones that the Devil pushes the hardest, trying to break them, just like he tried and failed to break Job.

Back when Liddy was in the hospital following her OHS, I wrote this post about the creation of diamonds. In a nutshell, it takes unrelenting pressure and incredible heat to change an ordinary lump of coal into a diamond. This little geological tidbit is something that I hold tightly to when trouble pays me a visit.
The likeness between myself and a lump of coal is not lost on me. I am first a lump of coal, hand picked to become something less than ordinary, something spectacular, a diamond. And I have to believe that Job was as well.
So even though we may never have all the answers and we may never have it within our power to stop the world's pain, we do have it within ourselves to understand that by continuing to praise God through the trials and tribulations, through the seemingly unrelenting rain, through incredible pressure and the Devil's hot breath on our necks, we, too, are becoming a treasure beyond worth.
I may not always thank God for the troubles in my life but I DO thank Him for seeing past the rough exterior to the potential beneath. I believe that in His eyes, I am already a diamond, just waiting for my chance to shine..........

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