So, I have been wanting for a long time now to get back in the habit of reading my Bible in the mornings. When I eventually get a job, I will wake up early for this morning ritual, but for now, I figured with all this time, I have no excuses!
This may sound trivial, but every time I pick up my Bible, I have this conversation with myself over where to begin. Do I choose a book or person whose story is relevant to where I am in life? Do I start with Genesis and just plow through? Old Testament, New Testament? Wherever the book mark is from the last time I had this conversation with myself?
Well, this morning Reba helped me decide. "I Keep On Loving You" has been playing on the radio and my Pandora station constantly lately and I decided to let her country love song push me in the right direction today. These are the first lines of the song:
Love takes the patience of Job
That's what my Mama always said
Faith is the belief in something more than what you know
That's what the Good Book says
So, I grabbed my Bible, my coffee and my journal and headed out to the balcony with Baby Girl following me on this overcast morning.
It has always struck me as odd when Christians' faith is so easily knocked down when calamity or struggle hits them. I am by no means confessing to have always walked the straight and narrow, but I have never doubted God's hand in my life. However, today I saw God a little differently as I was reading. In Job 1:12, God gives permission to Satan to test Job, and Satan kills all of Job's offspring, then in 2:6, God again gives Satan permission to make Job ill.
I have to say I was a little personally offended when I first read this! Really, God, you're just going to let Satan hurt us? Aren't you supposed to be protecting us from Satan, not giving him permission to do as he pleases!?
Then it all hit me, like a ton of bricks. Satan can't do anything to us that God doesn't give him permission to do. Satan answers to God! Our Father watches out for us and even lets bad things happen to us so we grow in our faith and learn to rely on Him more.
This got me thinking about the natural disasters and the oil spill that makes it feel like the world is just falling down around us. If God has to give Satan permission to do hurtful things to us, doesn't it make sense that the earth needs to get permission from God before it begins to crumble? God opens the skies when there is flooding, the earth's core is obeying God when it ruptures and creates a volcano. Bottom line, folks: nothing happens without God knowing it is going to happen and without knowing what the outcome will be. All of the disastrous things that happen, personally or world-wide, happen because they are planned for a strategic time to effect specific people, all for the purpose of fulfilling God's plan in each of our lives.
There is a little table in my Bible that is titled "The Sources of Suffering". It explains four sources of sin (my sin, others sin, avoidable physical or natural disaster, and unavoidable physical or natural disaster). For the last, the responsible party is God and/or Satan (which, from my recent epiphany, when it is Satan, it is God) and the needed response is ongoing trust in God's faithfulness.
So people of Nashville, and people on the Gulf Coast, and all over, respond to what God is doing in your lives. This is not in vain. The suffering that is going on has a purpose. Not to ruin but to build up.
So, this begs the question, how deep is your faith?