Purpose in the Process

Tears… Questions… Pain… Anger… Four words merely scratching the surface of this past week in my world… Were you in the hospital? Did you get a new/poor diagnosis? Did someone you love die? All questions possibly popping to the forefront of your mind, though thankfully I am able to negate. Nevertheless the sting remains. Have you ever found yourself in the same place? 

Since my initial sickness spiral in December 2018, I have done my best to remain strong and tough, for my own sake but more prominently for others. Wearing a smile on my face and giving assurance that I am going to be okay, even as I’ve laid in hospital bed after bed with doctors questioning my fate… Although as a whole, I believe I have failed you: my team, my tribe, and I want to sincerely apologize. 

My hours, my days, my world doesn’t always look like a “masterpiece” as to some may seem I have portrayed. And especially here lately as my mindset switches from denial and survival mode to my newfound reality, I am finding my life appearing as a deep, dark pit… Messy. Really messy… Ever since I was a little girl and scraped my knee for the first time, “pity parties” have ceased from my vocabulary. Although as I shared with my counselor on Friday, in this season it definitely feels like I could stay there and even camp out, if I allowed it, for dismal darkness seems to invade gratitude. Loneliness and depression swallow me whole and I continue to be reminded of the things I am unable to do. The limbs that will not move. The food I am unable to eat. The dreams and plans that feel like they have been stolen. The person I am unable to be… I would be lying if I didn’t share the reality that tears seem to come easier than words these days. Can you relate?

One person in the Bible that stands out in particular who knew loss all too well was Job. Let’s take a closer look, starting in Chapter 1.

“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East… One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD…  

Before we proceed, I want you to notice something… Job was not a bad man. He had not done anything wrong. In the first several verses of this passage, it actually discusses just the opposite and we learn of Job’s noble character and value in the sight of God. Thus we see God’s intention was not of punishing Job. Keeping that in mind, let’s continue…

“One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship.”

Wow… I have experienced losses in my life, both major and minor, however I could never imagine the magnitude we read here that Job experiences. In a matter of an instant, he loses absolutely everything. One thing after another… His livestock… His source of food and money… His children… Everything is gone and there was absolutely nothing Job could do about it… The shock, the grief, the anger, the fear… All feelings I’m sure he was dealing with as we see him going into a state of mourning, tearing his robe and shaving his head. In the chapters following, he continues crying out to God in, affirming for us there is a place for despair as well as questions in the heart of God. Job was also probably wondering “Why?”… Why had this drastic turn of events happened to him? Had he done something wrong? As we read at the beginning, Job was a good man…

Although did you notice what the last verse said… What Job’s response was… “Then he fell to the ground in worship”. Out of all the things Job could have done that would have even been justifiable considering the depth of his despair and all he had been through, such as the blaming or cursing of God that his wife and friends later suggest… Job’s response was to WORSHIP the God who created him and his life, knowing it wasn’t his to begin with. 

This naturally begs the question of you and I, “Is this our response when life seems to be crashing down?” For you see, Job didn’t understand what was happening or why… He didn’t know how everything was going to work out… He couldn’t keep reading and know how the story ended… And I bet he probably wondered if he was going to die… Would his wealth be restored… And if so, when?… And what about his family?…. Although despite his questions and feelings, his confusion and the chaos, Job TRUSTED GOD IN THE PROCESS… In the crying, pleading, questioning, praying, worshipping for forty-two more chapters in the book of Job… Do not be mistaken for it was not an easy nor short struggle… Although God was there to walk with him each step of the way and it was in his journey, in his process, that he not only became an even stronger warrior and follower of Christ, but also displayed a testimony that even today we can learn from and model our lives after. 

So as I cry out to God following in the footsteps of Job, my questions may not be answered. My situation may remain the same. I may not even “feel” like worshipping or praying all the time… Yet he reminds me that as I continue to put him first and choose hope, he is right by my side, every step of the process, wiping my tears, there to pick me up and dust me off. That is not to say all will work out perfectly or that some days won’t be tougher than others. It is on these days I believe we need the love and prayers and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ all the more. But we can trust in him and his plans and promises, knowing he is good and he is not finished with us yet. 

Therefore as we move forward and I long to not merely show you the masterpiece: the end of the story… But my day to day fight for life, my mess, my journey… Not perfect but in process, I pray that you will join me. Trust me, I know it’s far easier to pretend you’ve got it together or you’d rather wait until everything is finished and it’s come together perfectly for you to share, as I am tempted as well… Although I wonder what our world, our lives would be like if we were open and honest with ourselves and God of our struggles and then also with each other? The truth is we are all in “process”, think about how much we could learn from one another… 

Much love always, Alisha 

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