Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shape of Things to Come

You wrote: "God loves us, we love him, and life happens" which is interesting because "And Then Life Happened" just happens to be the title of my blog. I chose that title because it's the chords to the song the Lord is playing as he directs my life.

Due to the length of my wife's musings, I thought I would answer your question as a new entry in my blog.

This is a combined response, btw. My wife, Margo, is adding her input below:

From Margo:

Dear Beth,

You are a very good writer, and we both love how the Lord is revealing his heart to you, personally, as an individual. Love that about him!

Here's my take about the advice you were given:

I think the advice was good (thank heavens for the Internet!), but even if you didn't have access to cyberspace I believe God would have been able to answer your question. Why? Because you appear to have a sincere, inquiring heart...and I believe that sort of thing gets him all fired up (not being disrespectful...but I am coming to know him as a person and I do think he gets excited about some things)! Life does tend to happen to everyone and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to discern that good and bad things occur all the time for no apparent reason. Having access to the scriptures is nice but not necessary. Case in point; Job didn't have a bible either!

The book of Job has played a big part in our lives, simply because we had our own kind of Job experience that lasted about ten miserable years. During that time, God not only crushed and ground us to bits but then pulverized the resulting dust. You may ask why a God of love would do such a thing, as did we - billions of times!

I think there are innumerable things our finite, clay-based minds cannot possibly comprehend about our Heavenly Father - the wonder, the terror, the majesty, the meekness...BUT - there is one thing that's a constant, and that is God is love. Until we get our minds around that truth, and know it as an unchanging, unalterable fact (no matter how chaotic, cruel or nonsensical life can be) then nothing else is relevant. I can take comfort in that never-changing truth: God is love. It seems so simplistic, yet is so all-encompassing. It seems like a platitude, but it's pregnant with truth. And at times, that's all we can manage to whisper when we are broken with grief or horror or disappointment or depression or gut-wrenching sorrow: "God is love".

God is love. I guess that's enough for us to know right now. One day we will understand, but until we get to the sweet by-and-by, in the nasty now-and-now that's where faith comes in, faith founded on the truth that "God is love".

I recall the story of Helen Rosevere. She was a medical missionary doctor stationed in the Congo. Eventually, guerrilla forces overtook her camp and she was savagely beaten and brutally raped many times. She demanded to know from God why he had allowed it to happen, particularly when she had sacrificed her own life in order to serve him. I won't ruin the story for you in case you ever read the account, but when God gave her the answer she was ashamed she had asked. It was sufficient to her to know...God is love.

And yes, I do agree: "there is nothing greater than being with God, in all meanings of that preposition." With God, in those prepositions!

Re Job: You already know God took away all that he had (children, livestock, real estate, health, respect etc.) But isn't it interesting that at the end of his life, God replaced it all - in double portion - everything that is, EXCEPT his children. Job originally had ten. You would have thought that the next family would consist of twenty. Now, why do you think that was? I think I know the answer but I would be interested in hearing what you think!

From Richard:

Here is a link, see here, to something that reaches into the depths of my being. I perceive what is penned here to be succinctly relevant to what is being postulated by us both.

In Him,

1 comment:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...


Thank you for your extensive comments. In answer to your question about Job's children, Margo, I don't really have an answer. My guesses would probably all be off the mark. Job's wife, by then, was old, and childbirth would have been difficult. (But God has sent children to barren women and old women.) Children are not property the way the other things given back two-fold are. (But in those days and even today in some cultures, children are considered property.) Job's first 10 children were debauchers, so replacing them wtih 10 that were not might be considered not unlike doubling a possession -- replacing a broken glass with an unbroken one is more than a one-for-one swap. (But everything else was counted in numbers.)

Moving beyond the story of Job alone, I would ask if one can ever "replace" a child. Right after my second child was born with several birth defects related to spina bifida, I became pregnant with my third child. It was an "accident," yet at the same time it seemed that this child might "replace" the second in the sense that he would be healthy where she was not, i.e. I had expected a healthy child. He was healthy and so extremely gifted that no school could educate him (determined by the diagnostic clinic of one of the best school districts in the USA; his education fell to me. Be careful what one asks/wants...) In the long run (30 years and growing), both have contributed to society, each in his/her own way. There was no need for a replacement because there was nothing wrong with the spina bifida child other than a host of physical impairments and medical issues that she and we have learned to get around. Both child #2 and child #3 are equally loved, along with child #1 (now a professor of neuroscience and, occasionally, courses in psychology -- a rare psych professor who does NOT consider her family dysfunctional -- whew!) and child #4 (who turned out to be severely mentally challenged). I guess that was not enough challenge for us after a while because we took in another spina bifida child, along with two talented teenagers (art and music).

While I did ask God why He had not intervened to prevent these defects -- and I understand now -- I don't believe there was ever a moment when I did not want my children or when I considered them inferior in any way or expected them to have less of a future, to work less diligently, or to opt out of a mainstreamed school/social experience. They were the way they were, and, to use a military expression, all I wanted for them was for them to become all that they could be. They are working on that. We all spend a lifetime working on that. We don't have to be handicapped to be challenged in that way.

I am grateful to God for these experiences. I have learned incredible amounts about parenting, education, and medicine because I had to in order to advocate for my children and in some cases to teach and medicate them at home. In one instance, I even had to steal my son from the hospital to save his life. (Long story and quite dramatic.) I am grateful because I like learning. More important, I am grateful because what I have learned I have been able to use in many other situations, sometimes in the most unusual and unexpected places -- helping to save the life of a blind orphan in Russia, advising an association of parents of spina bifida children in Uzbekistan, helping people in the Middle East view handicapped children not as punishments from God but as unanticipated blessings and helping to build programs for them there.

Well, I could go on, but this comment is already far too long. Please tell me why you think Job ended up with 10, not 20, children.


P.S. I was disappointed that Job was so amply rewarded. If God deserves to be loved just because God exists and is love, then why dangle the hope of reward in front of people? I don't quite understand the ending -- the # of children and the "gain for pain." Do you?