How can you bless people with your words?
When do you most sense a spirit of generosity in your life?
What do you have to give?
It was interesting to observe a transaction between a train passenger and a vendor Such interactions are quite intriguing in a multilingual and multicultural setting like India. The passengers may know a language the vendor doesn’t and may use that to their advantage. The customers make a quick and thorough analysis of the product while speaking to one another in a language the vendor may not understand. But one must be careful since there are plenty of people with a working knowledge of four or more languages.
Tom* was a man who really wanted his life to be different. He had always wanted a peaceful life. As a hard working man, he believed in making an honest living. As a skilled, qualified diesel mechanic, he always found work wherever he went. His employers sought him out for his uncanny ability to trouble-shoot the most complicated issues at work. He was their “go to” man for their difficult tasks.
While preaching last Sunday, I looked across the audience and scanned the faces. Each one has a story. They are all stories of God’s mercy in the midst of shattered human lives. One by one they experienced God’s power to save and restore them. They are all at different levels in that process of healing and restoration. All are a work in progress, just like me.
Once in a while Susan* would come out of her shell and try to talk with others and smile. But most of the time she was simply withdrawn and isolated. She came to church regularly and attended all of the special meetings and gatherings. But somehow she just couldn’t connect with most of the people.
After picking up the phone and the usual hello, I went on to a simple question: “So, how are things?” That question brought on a flood of tears and complaints about that person’s spouse, children, extended family, and church members. As I stood there listening to this for a few minutes, I felt like my head was spinning as if I was on one of those crazy rides in an amusement park.
But there are other times when this person is light and bubbly, and everything is wonderful. At this point the questions are answered differently. How is your spouse? “In God’s hands, safe as ever.” And your children? Oh their future is secure by God’s mercy.” As I go on asking about each item that previously troubled that person, they see it all from a different perspective. Same problems, same people, but just a different perspective.
It seems Job also struggled with perspectives in his life. He said: “My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; the graveyard is ready for me. Surely there are mockers about me, and my eye dwells on their provocation” (Job 17:1-2 ESV). When I read these verses I thought about the person I mentioned above, as well as many others in similar situations. Job said his eyes were focused on their provocation. That focus led to the fateful words “the graveyard is ready for me.” Many things in life can be “broken.” But when your spirit is broken, that is intense. As Job focused on his brokenness, the only hope he could see was the graveyard.
Job’s problem was that his eyes dwelt on the provocation of his enemies. By doing that, he “empowered” his problems. He empowered them to have such a negative impact on him. He obviously could not recognize that his perspective was the problem, that it caused him to conclude his fate in the graveyard.
Getting our focus off of our problems and on to God doesn’t guarantee that all our problems will go away. In fact, they may continue just as ever. The difference is its effect on us. We won’t be shattered. Our faith won’t be shaken. And most importantly we won’t have to conclude that our only hope is the grave.
When the philistines drew up the battle lines against Israel, they had their “star” warrior Goliath right in the front. It seems that the entire Israelite army was focused on Goliath. And they were all clearly shaken. Their focus on Goliath and his might “empowered” that situation. But David was not impressed. His focus was on God and that made all the difference.
So, do you find yourself focused on your problem? Are you “empowering” your problems and finding that you are ready for the graveyard like Job?
What is your greatest hindrance to fixing your eyes on God?
Share it here in the comments.
Photo by Fried Dough – Creative Commons
Several years ago, severe persecution against Christians broke out in Orissa (Odisha), a northern state of India. The Christians in one district were attacked, beaten, and driven away from their homes, and many were killed. The people doing this heinous act blocked off an entire district and would not allow anyone to enter or exit their district.