See Luminosity

Perspective

Perspective

The week prior to Christmas was a hard one.

Yep, still here without a baby. And this miscarriage isn’t even completely over, yet. And, yep, it’s completely miserable just waiting for it to end, so I can move on.

I’ve done a lot of not much but crying and searching. I’ve been through many days of not wanting wake up and just plain feeling sorry for myself. I’ve journaled and prayed and battled before the Lord, yada yada yada, and I’ve gotten closer to some answers I’ve been searching for, but, really, what it comes down to is this:

What is my perspective on this life?

Is it all about me? Or do I really, truly believe, even in this pain, that it is all about Him?

The Pity Party Grows Old

I’m not done with it, yet, to be sure – my pity party. Nowhere close – getting up every day is still a bit of a struggle, and I’m needing inordinate amounts of writing and alone time. But I’m starting to move forward, and I have moments where I can embrace everything this post is going to say (kind of like this moment right now, which is why I can write it). But, thanks to the joys of the grieving process, I know that all my “pity-party’s over” intentions will last for a day or so and then come back up to bite me in a wave I’m not expecting, and I’ll go under again.

But, back to the question. What is my perspective on this life?

Reading Job has been pretty helpful in this domain. I’ve wanted to curl up into a ball and just die a bunch of times, recently, but it’s kind of hard to do that after reading Job. I mean, I lost a baby. Again. Yep, it really freaking sucks. But I still have:

 

  • A wonderful husband
  • 2 beautiful healthy children
  • My own health
  • A gorgeous home
  • A middle class lifestyle
  • Food on my table every night
  • Family who loves me and lives near me
  • A unified, loving, bible-believing church
  • A soft bed that I sleep in every night
  • A shower with almost endless hot water every morning
  • This computer to type on
  • Streams of people who send me cards, Facebook messages, etc. to encourage me

Shall I go on? I think you get the point. By any measure, I am phenomenally, overwhelmingly blessed. It’s a bit of a sacrilege for me to say, as I did in my Angry post, that I think I’ve had my share of suffering. I’ve had a few really miserable bumps in the road, but without a doubt the road has been nicely paved most of the way.

Pain makes me self-centered. Or maybe I’m always self-centered, and pain just brings it to the forefront, I don’t know. Either way…

Job helped me gain some of my perspective back. For today, at least.

I read every word. Saw Job lose not just two children, but ALL of them. Along with his home. And his financial status. And his health. And everything good in his life. And instead of loving, caring, supportive friends who let me grieve by just telling me they love me, Job was stuck with pious, philosophizing friends who basically tried to convince him that he was self-centered and sinful, and that everything that was happening was God’s punishment. Oh, and he was also left with a wife who told him to curse God and die.

My situation looked a tad bit better after I finished Job.

What God Shows Job

But it wasn’t just reading about what Job lost that helped my perspective. It was God’s response to Job (and, later, Job’s response to God’s response). When God finally responded to Job, he didn’t actually answer Job’s questions. Instead, He gave Job PERSPECTIVE.

1) First, God showed Job His SOVEREIGNTY

Where were you when I established the earth?

Have you traveled to the sources of the sea
or walked in the depths of the oceans?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you?
Have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the extent of the earth?

God gave Job perspective on the fact that He is all-powerful, and completely in control of this world. He is where everything begins and ends. In other words, it’s not about Job, it’s about God, and He knows what He’s doing. He made it, He sustains it, and He is magnificently powerful beyond our capabilities to understand. Our perspective on pain, or anything else in this world, must begin with Him, not ourselves.

2) God showed Job His CARE

Can you hunt prey for a lioness
or satisfy the appetite of young lions
40 when they crouch in their dens
and lie in wait within their lairs?
41 Who provides the raven’s food
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?

39 Do you know when mountain goats give birth?
Have you watched the deer in labor?
Can you count the months they are pregnant
so you can know the time they give birth?

He is so intimately involved with his creation that he counts the months the deer are pregnant and knows when they give birth. This is no standoffish, watch-from-a-distance God. He carefully holds creation in His hand and is intimately involved in the most minute details of it. The God of Job shows Himself to be a personal, involved, caring nurturer who loves His creation and tenderly provides for it.

3) God showed Job His INTENTIONALITY

Can you bring out the constellations in their season
and lead the Bear and her cubs?

Who put wisdom in the heart
or gave the mind understanding?

Who set the wild donkey free?
Who released the swift donkey from its harness?
I made the wilderness its home,
and the salty wasteland its dwelling.

For God has deprived [the ostrich] of wisdom;
He has not endowed her with understanding.

God is not only completely in charge of everything and has power over it, but He has a purpose for everything. In His time and season God intentionally acts within His creation for His purposes. There is no randomness or meaninglessness, because He is working within everything that occurs, according to His omniscient plan.

3) God showed Job His JUSTICE.

Have you ever in your life commanded the morning
or assigned the dawn its place,
13 so it may seize the edges of the earth
and shake the wicked out of it?…
15 Light is withheld from the wicked,
and the arm raised in violence is broken….

Or have you seen the storehouses of hail,
23 which I hold in reserve for times of trouble,
for the day of warfare and battle?

10 Adorn yourself with majesty and splendor,
and clothe yourself with honor and glory.
11 Unleash your raging anger;
look on every proud person and humiliate him.
12 Look on every proud person and humble him;
trample the wicked where they stand.
13 Hide them together in the dust;
imprison them in the grave.
14 Then I will confess to you
that your own right hand can deliver you.

God is just. He recognizes that wickedness exists in His creation and He is involved in its elimination. Job’s limited perspective cannot challenge the rightness of God’s enactment of perfect justice in the world; the Lord’s righteous justice is the foundation that upholds all of creation.

 

Job’s Response to God

Job, who had suffered far more than I could ever hope to suffer, even in the rest of my lifetime, was given perspective by God Almighty. What was he shown? That God is completely sovereign, that He cares intimately, that He has a purpose for everything He does, and that He is, in spite of how it may appear, completely and perfectly just.

God’s response may not seem to suffice. It may seem callous, or incomplete, or insufficiently sympathetic. But, then, we didn’t meet face to face with God. Job did. And it is instructive to see what his response was.

He didn’t say, “I’m sorry, God, but that response ain’t cutting it. I’m SUFFERING here! Stop trying to talk to me about everything you’ve done and do something about my PAIN!”

He didn’t say, “I don’t want to hear about YOU! You’ve done this to me and I hate you for it!”

He didn’t say, “Lord, you’ve got to give me more than that. Really? You can’t even answer my questions? You don’t freaking care at all!”

Job said:

 I am so insignificant. How can I answer You?
I place my hand over my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not reply;
twice, but now I can add nothing.

And, then, a little later:

“I know that You can do anything
and no plan of Yours can be thwarted.
You asked, “Who is this who conceals My counsel with ignorance?”
Surely I spoke about things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
You said, “Listen now, and I will speak.
When I question you, you will inform Me.”
I had heard rumors about You,
but now my eyes have seen You.
Therefore I take back my words
and repent in dust and ashes.”

His response tells me something. This man, who has suffered more than most people who have ever lived on the planet, who was, from all human perspective, fully justified to be angry and feel unfairly dealt with – when confronted with God Himself…

Forgot himself and only saw God.

He only saw God. Nothing else. He didn’t see his pain, didn’t see his misery, didn’t see his anger or loneliness or fear or anything else. He only saw God.

This tells me much. When actually in the presence of God, everything melted away except for Job’s insignificance and God’s magnificence. Job recognized how little he was in comparison, how completely ignorant he was and how small his pain was in the scheme of things.  Pain got put into its proper context – eclipsed against the unspeakable power and purpose of Yahweh.

The pity party is losing its appeal.

But that’s not all. Maybe even more significantly, Job also saw that his pain was significant enough to God for the Almighty, the Omnipotent Sovereign One, to come to him personally and address him.

I had heard rumors about You,
but now my eyes have seen You.”

Job got perspective.

I kind of think it might be summarized like this: “I am nothing, and God is everything. Yet He thinks I am everything.”

This helps me.

The right perspective is not, “How could God let me go through this pain?”. The right perspective is:

“How is it that, in this vast, magnificent universe He created, this omnipotent, omniscient, all-sovereign God even sees me, or my pain, at all?”

Job got it, after coming face to face with God. And his suffering was immeasurably more than mine. That he could come from such a dark , from losing so much, and be completely poured out in humble acceptance of his role in God’s purposes helps me see where I need to be with all of this. Job, after seeing God, was able to accept His suffering. Far from feeling justified in his anger and despair, he “repented in dust and ashes”. That could only happen because he got perspective on his pain in light of the magnificence, power, sovereignty, and righteousness of God’s purposes.

I can’t see it, now, but this pain, my pain, would make sense, and be worth it, if I had the whole picture.

 

Getting Perspective From Others

 

Job hasn’t been the only way the Lord has given me perspective this week. I read about Sarah Ambesta, from Kenya, whose pastor husband was shot to death when Islamic militants raided their church with the intent of killing Christians. I watched Unbroken, the movie about  Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who, after surviving a WWII plane crash and 47 days on a raft in the middle of the ocean, was taken as a prisoner of war by Japan, and suffered unspeakable torture. He survived, became a Christian, and went on to forgive his captors. And then God has brought me together with a friend who suffered repeated sexual abuse from her father throughout her childhood and youth – and yet is able to not only survive, but share her story and live as a testimony to the healing power of Christ.

How, exactly, can I wallow in self-pity when that is the reality for people on this earth?

Perspective.

I still don’t understand. I still miss the baby I will not get to meet until heaven. I still struggle with how I got the Lord’s words about my situation so wrong. I still long for more children, and fear that my hope for that is gone.

And all of that hurts.

But I am not fearing for my life from Islamic fundamentalists who are trying to blow me up or hack me to death. And I am not being tortured at the hands of a sadistic war criminal. And I do not have residual fear that assaults me every time it gets dark – fear that the man who was supposed to take care of me will come and abuse me in the worst way possible.

Perspective.

God is sovereign – he has all of this in His control, and nothing happens outside of His control. God is caring – He holds every detail in His hand and tenderly supports every part of His creation because He loves it. God is intentional – he has a purpose for everything that happens, and for every bit of suffering He allows in this world. God is just – He is fundamentally good and righteous and any pain that He allows is only to serve the purposes that fulfill His ultimate goodness and righteousness.

If Job, and Sarah Ambesta, and Louis Zamperini, and my friend can all make it, with the Lord – so can I.

I don’t get it all, now, but one day I will. And until that day, I will hold to the truths I see in Job: “I am nothing, and God is everything. Yet, somehow, He thinks I am everything”.

If, when he got perspective, and could see God face to face, Job was able to see his suffering in the context of God’s sovereignty, care, purpose, and righteous justice…

and humbly, fully accept it

Then I can, too.

 

 

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