Wednesday, May 31, 2006

One Liners

I seem to be writing a lot of one-liner blog entries these days. Here goes a modified stream-of-consciousness ... This morning I opened my Bible to wherever it fell. It was the Book of Job. My, how appropriate as it always is when I let chance (God) take over. I love this version of the Bible, Guideposts' Touchpoint Bible New Living Translation. The sidebar notes relate so much wisdom. I always read the one my eye falls on first and take that as my lesson for the day. Today, I read all three of them: first, FRUSTRATION, Job 5:12; second, SUFFERING, Job 5:17; third, COMPASSION, Job 5:27.

The "Frustration" note seems perfectly suited for my son who is still feeling some frustration and sadness over a job offered him, then pulled away from him. I have, of course, felt frustration in my own life, for instance when I heard a strange clanking noise in my car and turned around for home, adding an additional hour of driving time. The clanking turned out to be a minor annoyance, but by then I had delayed my trip departure for a couple of hours. I will quote the reference and then the notes.

Job 5:12-- "He frustrates the plans of the crafty, so their efforts will not succeed."
Note: When does God intervene, and when doesn't he? We don't know. An evil person develops an evil plan. God frustrates it--but we might never know about it. Something bad is about to happen to someone. God prevents it. How will we ever know? How many near misses have we had on the highway without knowing about them? Some things are best left in God's hands. We do know that he can and does frustrate evil plans. It follows that sometimes he also frustrates our plans, because they are harmful, even if there is no evil intent behind them.

"Suffering" fits many of us at different times. Have you ever noticed 'how trouble comes in threes'? or 'when it rains it pours'? In my own past life, and now in my father's life, trouble/bad things/challenges seem poured on like salt out of a shaker.

Job 5:17-- "But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the chastening of the Almighty when you sin."
Note: Though God later criticized Eliphaz for his lack of comfort, his words here do carry some truth. Other Scripture passages confirm that, like a disciplined child, we should accept God's chastening and ask him to bind our wounds and heal us. Can good come from suffering? Of course. We can develop character: We can become more sympathetic to others. We can be more equipped to counsel others in their suffering. And we can know what it is like to experience the wonderful balm of renewal and healing.

Now comes the big one for me today. "Compassion." At times I've had great compassion for others. Currently, I seem to be filled with impatience. I must remind myself of the times when I have personally vented a frustration and have been offered unwanted advice that hurt me more than helped me. I will remind myself of the times I was consoled by another's quiet listening and understanding. So my lesson today is to listen and offer an understanding ear, not my opinion or advice, to those who are frustrated or hurting ... and I guess this means I won't be sending the "frustration" paragraph in an email to my son as a helpful piece of advice. I'll strive to listen with my mouth zipped.

Job 5:27-- "We have found from experience that all this is true. Listen to my counsel, and apply it to yourself."
Note: Eliphaz was tall on advice and short on compassion. In fact, Job said that his advice was like eating the tasteless white of an egg (6:6-7). When people are going through severe trials, ill-advised counsel is distasteful. They may listen politely, but inside they are upset. Be slow to give advice to those who are hurting. They often need compassion more than they need advice.

And now I am going into the studio to paint for an hour before it is time to start my work day.