A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Trial of a Different Kind

I haven't been blogging much of late and it isn't because I've had a lot on my plate. Obviously I've seen busy periods the last few weeks but it's mostly been about moi wallowing in a state of a depression about the future.
I've been wanting to return to work since 4 year old is now in kindy 3 days but then I'm not sure if I really do. I've applied for several jobs but so far nothing's on offer. So I've been stradling in a state of limbo... some of it, of my own making.

After thinking about things, I've come to the conclusion that unbeknownst to me during this time, I've been going through a trial. Often we think of trials as things we go though because of the bad stuff around us or when the going gets tough. So when circumstances don't seem particularly bad, it doesn't feel like one is being tested.

As I've been re-reading the book of James in the NT (our pastor's preaching through it presently), I've come to the conclusion that trials are fundamentally times of testing rather than times of suffering. Although they often go together. They test the quality of our faith (that can happen in okay times too) and our resolve for the things of God's kingdom. Or more importantly of God, himself.
My problem has been that I haven't had too many God-related thoughts of late. Not enough God and far too much anger and frustration than I should harbouring.

I mentioned anger management issues a couple of weeks ago and we who are parents are only too aware that 90% of our anger problems begin with us rather than the kids. Children often test and try but we are responsible for how we respond to them.
The gospel of Jesus Christ reminds me that I'm a sinner... I'm a rebel. My instincts are to do what comes naturally. Times of testing show me the quality of my Christian life, shows me that I often fall short and where I fall short. Times of testing also sends me back to the cross, with the knowledge that I can't parent or do anything else on my own because I lack the wisdom and the capacity. But as James reminds us, that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God, "who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." (James 1:5, ESV)

It has perhaps become passe to say that I have become more in awe of God since having the kids. Nonetheless, it's true. In their rebellion, they help me perceive how gracious and merciful our Lord is. I find it intriguing that it is in the OT we often read about God's compassion and that he is "slow to anger". A quick internet search yielded 9 references throughout the OT pertaining to this reference:

  1. Exodus 34:6
    And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
    Exodus 34:5-7 (in Context) Exodus 34 (Whole Chapter)
  2. Numbers 14:18
    ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’
    Numbers 14:17-19 (in Context) Numbers 14 (Whole Chapter)
  3. Nehemiah 9:17
    They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them,
    Nehemiah 9:16-18 (in Context) Nehemiah 9 (Whole Chapter)
  4. Psalm 86:15
    But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
    Psalm 86:14-16 (in Context) Psalm 86 (Whole Chapter)
  5. Psalm 103:8
    The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
    Psalm 103:7-9 (in Context) Psalm 103 (Whole Chapter)
  6. Psalm 145:8
    The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
    Psalm 145:7-9 (in Context) Psalm 145 (Whole Chapter)
  7. Joel 2:13
    Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
    Joel 2:12-14 (in Context) Joel 2 (Whole Chapter)
  8. Jonah 4:2
    He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
    Jonah 4:1-3 (in Context) Jonah 4 (Whole Chapter)
  9. Nahum 1:3
    The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.
God is gracious and compassionate... and even if we don't always know what is good for us, I'm grateful that he does.

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