When Fortunes Turn Do I Praise or Curse

“Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake” (Job 6:29 NIV).

I slammed my Bible shut. After spending a month with Job’s friends I couldn’t take one more sentence of their arrogant presumptions about Job and God. “I can’t wait for you to speak,” I complained out loud to God.

God in his infinite wisdom answered back, “Oh really?” So today, as I listened to the first words God speaks to Job and his friends, I hear him say, “How often do you lean on your own understanding, trying to explain why I allow suffering in your life? How often do you presume to know my ways and what I will or will not do in the lives of your children?” His rebuke was not harsh, but it cut through my own self-righteous judgment of Job’s friends and placed me squarely in the storm of his answers to Job.

Reading through Job, you and I have the benefit of Chapter 1. We know God calls him, ” blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” God makes it clear, Job does not deserve what is happening to him. Take the first chapter out and we are just as blindsided as Job when his favored life turns hard.

I would have asked:

  • Is God punishing Job?
  • Has God withdrawn his love?
  • Is it a sin to be wealthy?
  • Is God allowing Job to suffer to help others?

Too often I presume to know why God allows suffering in our lives rather than knowing he is good and that I am part of God’s larger story for mankind.

I pray that one day I can say, Satan meant Jonathan’s death for evil, but oh Lord you meant it for the salvation of many. All we suffer has a greater purpose, just like Jesus’ death on the cross. I choose to praise you Lord.

You created the heavens, earth and all that resides in it. I really don’t have the first clue of your purposes. But I do know you are good. I praise you for creating my life, giving me breath. I praise you for the first child placed in my arms and how precious each day was of being a mother to him. I praise you for your unmerited favor. Again and again, you extend grace to me. You gave me a husband who not only committed his life to love me but knelt down and said vows to the seven-year-old son who looked up him with eager and nervous expectation. You blessed me with Daniel and Natalie.

Lord, you gave me your passion and creative spirit. I am in awe of scripture, you don’t leave me guessing. I have the beginning, middle, and end of your story. I know all I experience is temporary. Leave your mark on the world through me. Today I choose to say, “You give and take away, but still, I will praise your name.” Amen

Podcast on Chirp every Monday at 10 am

Devotionals post every Tuesday at 7 pm.

Poetry post on Thursday at 7 pm.

devotional faith mental health

Fruitful Ministry is Grafted into the Vine of Christ

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).

The needs of others press into my soul and I want to help. Almost weekly, family, friends, and strangers reveal to me the toll suicide is taking on them. My heart breaks for so many who struggle with despair, and  I desire to be present for anyone in need of comfort, a listening ear, and God’s love. But I cannot maintain, was never meant to sustain, ministry alone. I cannot be your vine.

God is a good gardener and within his care, we bear much fruit. Apart from him, we cannot do anything. Believers fall away because we attempt to MAKE fruit grow in our own skills, time frame, and energy. We count heads in the pews, facebook likes, ministries we are involved in. This is not where the fruit happens.

Fruit grows in the vine of Christ. So right now I stop trying to produce and submit to God’s pruning and cultivation. He uses scripture (currently reading Job), prayer, worship, pastors, nature, wise counsel, and music to nourish me. He is slowing me down and causing me to be more intentional in action and follow through.

Supporting, encouraging, and loving those who cross my path in their time of grief consistent connection with Jesus. He is the vine, and I am branch. Notice Jesus doesn’t say the only branch; because many others will bear the fruit of sharing God’s love. Christ points at you in the middle of a vineyard of luscious ripe grapes and says. Abide in me, and out of that abiding comes fruitfulness.  We are nourished by his will, love, strength, and compassion. But, too often we attempt to sustain ourselves and others in our own abilities and we wither.

Our model to this vine and branch relationship is Jesus and God the Father.  He said his purpose was to do the will of the father (John 6:38). The son of man remained firmly planted where God placed him, even on the cross. As a believer, I am grafted into Christ and I will bear the most fruit by remaining in his will even in hard things.

Devotionals are Posted at 7 pm every Tuesday 

devotional faith mental health