Tag: frustration (page 1 of 2)

A Prayer for Our Work

A Prayer for Our WorkI’ve been working in one form or another since I was 13 years old, first as a babysitter, than as a McDonald’s employee. I was one of the rare people who worked fast food for more than a week. I worked there 3 years. In my adult life, I have been an autism therapist, a children’s pastor,  a stay at home mom, and now, a leader in a different church community.

Work has been a big part of my life, just as I’m sure it has been for yours. Work is part of our shared experience as humans, however varied the form that work takes in our lives.

But what is God’s purpose for work? If it’s where we spend so much of our time, what does it look like to live out our faith in that setting?

Work was part of God’s plan from the beginning. It is not a result of a broken world. It is not a mistake. It is intrinsically good. It is part of the design of humanity to partner with God in creation.

God could have filled the earth himself, but he invited humanity to be co-creators with him; to build upon his foundation, and create cultures, societies, cities, art, and more.

Sadly, though, after the perfection and harmony of the beginning, Adam and Eve became convinced that God was holding out on them. They grasped for something they were meant to find in God alone. They ate the one fruit they were told not to have, sin entered the world, and the effects snowballed immediately.

Before long, God pronounced His judgment about what would happen to them and to the world as a result of their choice. One of the big consequences was the nature of work.

Today we know how often work is difficult. That’s why complaining about it is one of the most common topics of conversation between friends.

The thing is, the Bible talks about the frustration of work, too. I love that the Bible doesn’t pretend things are easier than they are.

As part of our church sermon series on work, I did a message about the toil of work, and how Christ meets us there to redeem it. The above words were part of that message, along with a few more. I  thought I would share a link to listen to that message if you are interested.

Click here and listen to the message called “The Reward of Work.”

And, as part of that message, I also wrote a prayer that I wanted to share with you. A prayer for how Christ might use our work to bring His redemption and grace. You can click on the picture above to print out a 5 by 7  graphic, or just read from the text below:

Christ, work through me today
To bring healing into hurt
To find potential in others
To shine light into darkness
To create beauty in ugliness
To bring order into chaos.
Christ, work in me today
To feel humility regardless of success
To be disciplined regardless of accountability
To find joy regardless of reward
To love regardless of how I am loved
To seek You regardless of what else pulls my attention.
Christ, work on my behalf today,
As I rest in my identity as Your beloved.

Whatever kind of work you find yourself in today, whether in or out of the home, that is my prayer for you.

What are you doing God?

psalm 83Oh, if only I could control God.

 

It is infuriating to follow Him sometimes.

 

I believe that God loves each of us beyond our comprehension, but then some really great people have really terrible things happen to them, and I wonder, what are you doing God?

 

O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof, O God.
-       Psalm 83:1 (NIV)

 

I believe that God desires intimacy with us, and a relationship with Him creates a wholeness we can’t find anywhere else, but then there are seasons when I can’t seem to reach His presence, and I wonder, what are you doing God?

 

God, don’t shut me out;
don’t give me the silent treatment, O God.
-       Psalm 83:1 (The Message)

 

I believe that God answers prayer, and have seen Him do so in profound ways in my own life, but then I see so many words that seem to bounce back with no response, and I wonder, what are you doing God?

 

O God, do not be silent!
Do not be deaf.
Do not be quiet, O God.
-       Psalm 83:1 (NLT)

 

I believe that God is actively engaged in the world, but then some seemingly preventable thing devastates entire groups of people, and I wonder, what are you doing God?

 

O God, do not be silent!
Do not ignore us! Do not be inactive, O God!
-       Psalm 83:1 (NET)

 

Some silence I can handle. But when God seems intentionally inactive, it’s enough to make me want to throw in the towel.

 

What does faith look like in these times?

 

I think it looks the faith of Asaph, who allows that guttural cry of “Where are you God?” to be the first lines of his prayer.

 

What are prayer requests if not deep longings for God to act? We ache for the God who is supposedly the Lord to engage and do something already about this stuff that is broken in this world.

 

Honest prayer is the frustration of our souls put to words. Just because we believe in God and love God does not mean we don’t get irritated by Him. It’s not an easy relationship.

 

But over and over again, the Psalms show us it’s not supposed to be. Our faith in God is a dynamic connection with a powerful Being; a Being we can trust, but not control.

 

The words of Psalm 83 that follow verse 1 are surrounded by context that feels far and foreign from our own. But the cry of verse 1 is universal.

 

O True God, do not be quiet any longer.
Do not stay silent or be still, O God.
-       Psalm 83:1 (The Voice)


That was my reflection on Pslalm 83. Link up with your thoughts below. Or join in next week with a reflection on Psalm 84.

When the Bible falls flat

Photo credit: jclk8888 via MorgueFile

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: sometimes the Bible falls flat.

 

As my old pastor used to say, the Bible is written for us, but is not written to us. It is seeped in context and history, and sometimes, that makes its words difficult to apply.

 

Here’s the thing: We don’t need to be afraid to say that out loud. The sanctity of the Scriptures is not threatened by our admissions.

 

In fact, I think we do a disservice to the real life process of following Christ and reading the Bible when we don’t admit our frustrations.

 

Right now, I am tired. I am a working mom of two young kids. I am trying to juggle schedules and responsibilities and exercise and relationships, and I am struggling from the work of keeping things moving.

 

Today I want a Psalm that tells me that I am loved no matter what. I want to hear verses that remind me how God is with me. I want to read words that open my heart to gratitude and wonder.

 

But I made the choice to go through Psalms in order, which means I don’t have the benefit of picking and choosing. That was an intentional choice, a discipline of not skipping through the hard stuff. It is a choice that has helped me grow and learn, but also caused me many annoyances.

 

Today falls in the second category.

 

Psalm 76 is not what I want to read right now. It’s not particularly gruesome, but it is about war and judgment and victory, and try as I might, I just cannot relate.

 

So I’m not going to. I’m not going to try to make up some blog post to prove I can make connection between the Bible and anything going on in my life.

 

Because sometimes I can’t.

 

And my faith is still okay when I say that out loud.

 


That was my reflection on Psalm 76. Please link up with your reflection below. And don’t forget to leave a comment here! Then join us next week for a reflection on Psalm 77.

 

Sometimes I don’t understand the Bible

Sometimes the Bible is confusing.

 

Can we admit that more often?

 

So much time in the Christian world is spent explaining meanings. Making points. Tying strings together. We talk and write and preach about how much we know and how much we see and how much we can learn.

 

I love that stuff, to be honest. In fact, I subscribe to podcasts so I can listen to more than one sermon a week. Seriously.

 

But can we stop pretending that we always understand? Can we be vulnerable enough to admit that sometimes we read the Bible and we don’t get it?

 

vulnerable approach to the bible

 

I don’t get Psalm 41.

 

I have a seminary degree. I work at a church. I have been studying the Psalms for over a year. Yet still, my response to Psalm 41 is, “Hmmm… whatchya doin’ there, God?”

 

It begins:

 

Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor!
    
The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.
The Lord protects them
    
and keeps them alive.

He gives them prosperity in the land
    
and rescues them from their enemies.
The Lord nurses them when they are sick
    
and restores them to health. –Psalm 41:1-3

 

All I can think is, “But what about the times God doesn’t?” There are many people who have dedicated their existence to helping the poor whose lives have been difficult as a direct result of that choice.

 

There are things that were true for ancient Israel that are not true for us today. God made a covenant with them: He was their God and they were His people. Attached to that covenantal relationship were rules, which were connected to promises. If Israel ran itself with the grace and justice in line with God’s character, God committed to bless them in return.

 

So, perhaps this kind of clear correlation between action and blessing makes sense in that time. But then, what do we do with it now?

 

I’m not exactly sure.

 

Jesus asks us to help the poor, but He also tells us we will be persecuted for our faith in Him. The promise is now of God’s presence, not of God’s blessing. Surely, that presence is a wonderful thing, but sometimes I wish actions, consequences, and rewards would be a little more linear.

 

The Psalm then goes from a section I don’t know how to apply to a section I don’t know how to understand.

 

David talks of an illness he had and how his enemies gloated over him. What does that have to do with verses 1-3? I don’t see the connection.

 

Also included in that lament is a wish that God would make David well again, so that David could pay his enemies back.

 

Again, this request has an appropriateness because David is the king of God’s covenant nation. Therefore, an attack on the king is therefore an attack on God. This means there were different operating orders than Jesus’ command to us to love our enemies.

 

But that still leaves the question: what do we do with verses like this today?

 

I don’t know.

 

And that is okay. It is okay to read the Bible and come away with the answer, “I don’t know.”

 

The Bible is not a map. The Bible is not a rulebook. The Bible is a story.

 

It is the story of a vibrant and powerful God filled with compassion for a broken and hurting humanity. It is a story of creation and sin and commitment and rescue. Of purpose and hope ushered in with a Love made flesh. It is a beautiful and amazing and deep and true story.

 

I cannot expect that any verse I choose from any part of that Story will have a perfect correlation and application to my life today. That is a selfish perspective on God’s Word. These verses are part of something much grander than my individual life.

 

When I read the Bible, even if I find the pieces confusing or frustrating, that does not change the power of the whole.

 

So, my conclusion today is that I don’t understand Psalm 41. And I am okay with that.

 

walk through the psalmsWalk through the Psalms is a series working its way through the book of Psalms, one Psalm a week, one post a week, in order. It is grounded in the belief that as Psalms swirl through prayers of pain and praise, they paint a portrait of a life of faith. And, as with any walk, it is better with company; all are welcome to join. To learn more, read this.

 



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