This last term of Hello Mornings we used a study on Job & Joseph created by Lara G. Williams, called Abounding Hope. The study is simple enough: A collection of different verses to read each day with questions to prompt specific Scriptural thoughts about God, His Promises, Hope, etc. There is no running commentary, but the user is guided to glean truths from God's Word, not the author's mind.
I can't tell you how I felt about studying Job...again...when I saw the topic. I may have rolled my eyes and thought something negative. I don't really remember, but that sounds like something I would have done way back in January. I hope the thought of studying Job...again...does not deter anyone, though. I found this particular study to be valuable. Lara doesn't get into the debate I grew up with about how Job was probably actually being punished by God for future sins (seriously, I've heard that one so many times it's rote memory now), she doesn't get sidetracked trying to figure out if the Laviathon is a whale or a dinosaur. The entire study seems stayed on one ever important, but, I've learned as I've grown & as I've watched others, difficult topic...You *can* trust God. He *is* faithful, always. He will *never* leave you, even if your outward circumstances look as if He has. He *always* loves you. He isn't a God out to punish you for some secret sin you might not even know about, He is a God out to serve His Great Eternal Purpose in your life for His Glory, which often requires difficulties that incur growth.
Looking back through my notes on this study I can see that it became apparent by the end of week one what God was trying to say: I can trust Him. This may seem like a no-brainer to some people. A lot of Christians sometimes think this sort of thing just comes natural. It doesn't. I won't get into the specifics of why I have spent a lifetime in the church without being able to trust God. It makes most people uncomfortable to hear about my childhood of growing up in the church but having an entirely un-biblical upbringing at home. Suffice to say that I was taught from an early age that God hated His people, that He was "out to get them," to use the vernacular & that the better Christian you were the more he was. That He was just waiting for you to mess up one bit, then He'd jump on the occasion to attack you with some sort of cruel punishment.
Two December's ago, when Christ lifted me out of the darkness of sin and unbelief, I began to see things differently. I made my first few timid steps in trusting God, but, honestly, I believe that in the back of my mind, those thoughts were still there. This study dragged them all out into the open where God & I could deal with them once and for all.
It was a long session this round of the Hello Mornings Challenge. One thing after another came to the members of our group. As most people around the country know, it was a winter filled with illness after illness, on top of that there were so many other things going on that I couldn't enumerate them all in this entry. In my own life things were pretty bad. So many things going on personally that threatened to drag me down into a deep depression. In fact, in the old days they would have. I won't say that I didn't get depressed, some of the stuff was so overwhelming that it was bound to make me sad. But through these terrible times, as I wrestled with God in my study, I was finally able to see that these things as they were, temporal problems (OK, most of them are very long, temporal problems) that God will use for His Glory...and I can be a part of bringing that Glory to Him IF I trust Him. Of course, it's all gonna bring Him Glory whether I do or not, but do I want it to bring Him Glory *in spite of* my faith, or as a result of it?
As I look back over the past few months, I don't really see that a single one of the problems has changed. Some of them have actually become worse. What *has* changed is my perspective. I no longer look up and wonder "why?" the moment something bad happens. I look ahead, to the end, whenever that end may be...even if it won't be until I'm long gone from this earth...to the Glory that God will bring Himself as a result of this trial.
Here is a thought from my notes way back in Week 5 of the study: Trust God. He is all powerful and all knowing. He is in control of your circumstances.
And, of course, if you know me at all, you know that this makes me think of a song. Unfortunately Blogger cannot communicate with YouTube while using Chrome (yes, that is an indictment of Google who owns all three) so here's the link: While I'm Waiting by John Waller.
And with that phobia overcome, I will now attempt to work on my other biggie...fear of all pastors and other Christian leaders. Anybody have a good study on that one? :)