Too Blessed To Be Stressed? Yeah Right! (Part 3)
The will of God for our lives is not a guarantee that we will be comfortable and live in the absence of fear, frustration, uncertainty and stress. The popular phrase ‘too blessed to be stressed’ is reserved for folks on a spiritual level I am yet to attain. While I am not saying such folks do not exist, but I am yet to meet anyone who honestly experiences that. On the contrary, I am beginning to think that all blessings come with stresses because God does so in order to make us grow and change our character in keeping with what He wants us to eventually be like. As God directs and guides us and orders our steps He allows us to face lots of obstacles and barriers in this thing called LIFE. Although God prods us in a specific direction, He gives us freedom to come up with ideas and solutions on how best to negotiate this thing called LIFE.
While He provides a safety net that prevents us from falling, the holes in the net also allow negatives and challenges to come up at us at the same time. I am sure that Jesus was like a typical infant – fussy, colicky, stinky, and crying at the oddest of times – the whole works. Mary and Joseph were exposed to all that even though they were caring for the Son of God (I am not sure if they were really aware who it was that was pooping and burping and interrupting their sleep at night)!
Think of this for a moment: Mary is breast feeding Jesus and she looks down at him. Was she really aware that The Son of God was in her arms? While I am not sure of her thoughts, she surely would remember how her young life was thrown into unexpected turmoil because of the baby on her breast. In Luke chapter 1 verse 38, she said this to the Angel: “Behold the bond slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Indeed, it was being done to her according to God’s plan! That was some plan!
So what should our attitude be towards LIFE when the kitchen sink (or maybe just the faucet and a few washers and nuts) is thrown at us? How ought we to approach our daily existence when we are inundated with challenges and insurmountable odds? What about the vexing issues that won’t go away? How much must we exercise our faith in order to get by on a daily basis? Do we really wonder if God is aware of the minute details of our lives and if so, how much does He really care about us?
The story of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth and early childhood show us that God is ALWAYS in control and that the young family was NEVER out of the caring watch of God’s all Seeing Eye. Perhaps years later the couple looked back and realized that God was indeed by their side every step of the way. The question most asked is how can we realize that in the here and now of our current situations?
I have learned that in the midst of the struggles, it is sometimes hard to clearly see the hand of God, the safety net, the loving caring, nurturing presence of God. Instead, I immediately see the things that I don’t like – the unpleasant things. I have learned too that I need to meditate on the character of God and rest on the promise that He will not forsake me or leave me. I have also learned that while my feelings about a situation matter, they do not alter the reality of who God is and what He is doing for me.
This requires faith and lots of patience that helps me to focus on the hope that “this too shall pass”. Mary and Joseph after all did not remain refugees all their lives and the child did grow up.
I am not sure why God allowed all the events to take place around the birth of Jesus. I am not sure why God allows several things to take place in my life and in the daily operation of events on this planet. I am also not sure if I will ever know the answers to some of those ‘why’ questions.
In the Book of Job (and one day you should read it carefully), I see God in two different ways. First, I see Him as a God who is aware of all the details of our lives. I also see Him as a God who is very different from us and who dabbles in affairs which we really don’t understand and have no business getting mixed up in. The inexplicable things that take place on our planet over which I have no control, which cause me to question the timing of God I place in the “I have no business getting bent out of shape over” category.
That may seem like a cop out mechanism where I am afraid to challenge my own faith in God and I’m unwilling to question the very existence or love of God. Some persons may even tell me that my faith is whimsical and farcical because I cannot explain some of the oddities of the God whom I claim to serve and whom I say loves me.
It is very true that I do not have answers to many of the ‘why’ questions and the question is, why should I still believe in the Christmas story and the birth of Jesus that is fraught with ugly and presents a God who is seemingly weak and unable to control the very species (Herod) that He himself created?
I will respond to that by saying this: The other approaches that promise a ‘good’ life on this planet are appealing in various ways. For example, schemes to get rich, schemes to love everyone and be calm, schemes that encourage me to pursue the healthiest way to live, schemes that push for intellectual perfection and so on all have their attractions. Yet none appeals to me more than the approach outlined by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6 and 7). And the principles outlined in the Sermon on the Mount can only make sense when they are seen in the context of another world or existence called ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’.
We are admonished to live here on Planet Earth as dual citizens – one being here and the other being in The Kingdom of Heaven. That other place of citizenship is where I think, the ‘why’ questions will no longer need to be asked because there we will understand the ‘why’ events that took place on Planet Earth. In the meantime then, I will do like Mary and Joseph; that is, obey God’s will and think of the best strategies to negotiate this thing called Life as best as I could and have a fine time while doing it.
For me, the existence of a God who enters our planet as a vulnerable baby being cared for by two flawed humans, can only be understood if I believe that that baby came from another place that is very different from this place that I know. That place is also promised to me and Jesus often spoke of that other place – The Kingdom of Heaven.
Yet when He spoke of that place, He usually related it back to life here on Planet Earth. In the early part of chapter five of the first Gospel, He spoke of those who mourn and who are persecuted on Planet Earth who shall receive the Kingdom of Heaven in the future. He made that connection.
I can only live with the seeming contradictions of God’s love on one hand and the occurrence of violent winds created by huge differences in atmospheric pressure and the accompanying mayhem that follows when I think of the Kingdom of Heaven. When I see lives shattered and broken because of the seismic waves that cause buildings to collapse as the earth’s surface shudders and buckles in response or when powerful humans created by Him allow their power to get to their heads and do harm to scores of weaker humans, I think of the Christmas story and remember that indeed, despite all that is happening, God still is in control and I can still trust Him.
Keith Yearwood, Storyteller