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Subjected to Frustration

So, I haven’t been able to write as much in the past year as I once thrived in doing.  At first it was because we were in Uganda and had no power or internet connection for enough time to write.  Then it was because I had all my children home, all the time, and that makes sustained thought and attention nearly impossible.  But recently, I haven’t written because I haven’t had anything to say or wrestle with or think about.  It isn’t that there aren’t actually issues for which the Gospel needs to inform my thinking, it is more that I have slipped into some kind of Gospel amnesia, some sort of black hole of thought, motivation and even interest.  Though I could give several reasons for this state, I also have no explanation at all.  I cannot interpret my inner workings, nor decipher what is my sin and what is God’s molding pressure.  And then, of course, I remember that they are rarely clearly distinguished but often co-existing in His process of redemption.

Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’  Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.  Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”  After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.  Job 42:1-7

When I am going through a time of internal wrestling, times that often occur in the still seasons following those which require higher energy, many counselors vie for my heart’s submission.  Like Job’s friends, there are voices which compel me to search out my sin, which must be the root cause of my ornery and discontented state.  If I can just identify my errant thinking, I will have peace again.  Then there are the voices which place the burden of escape from the dark place to the green pastures on my shoulders, threatening that great opportunities await if I can successfully complete the scavenger hunt or feats of strength required to attain them.  Both, like God’s rebuke, place the responsibility for my current estate as well as the means for fuller life on my shoulders, making me the script writer and lead actress in my story.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.  John 9:1-3

Because I don’t yet fully believe that the person and work of Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, imputed to me even as my corruption is imputed to Him, I am still inclined to live by an economy of works where blessings and curses are directly tied to my ability to satisfy the demands of the Law independently.  So, when things feel dark or disorienting, I look to myself as the cause and solution rather than God.  My Gospel amnesia eliminates the truth of God’s story that God is, as Jill Phillips wrote, both the builder and the wrecking ball.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it,  in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.  Romans 8:20-21

He is the One who subjected creation to frustration, Job and Paul to despair even of their own lives, the blind man to live so much of his life in visual darkness, Jesus to Gethsemene and Golgotha…and me into this particular time of mental and emotional frustration.  He does this not because He is cruel but as an oncologist subjects patients to radiation and sometimes chemotherapy, processes that hurt, cause illness and pain, not to mention loss of valued physical qualities such as hair, all in order to rid the body of cancer and restore fullness of life.  He eliminates my anemic notions of Who He IS and replaces them with a more accurate understanding of His power, control, goodness and mercy just as He did for Job.  As Edmund Clowney once wrote, it is not my grip on God in which my confidence rests but His grip on me.  Oh might this truth bring me from groping in the darkness to resting securely in His sight and His plan to maneuver me in His very secure grip.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?  Psalm 13:1-2 He remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever.and freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever. He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.  Psalm 136:23-26

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