PJ Smythe spoke on the struggle to be masculine humbly, honestly, with healthy introspection, worshipfully and two other points which I forget...
He used Job as his text and spoke also of his own struggles with cancer over the last year. Some reflections/points follow below in no particular order:
- Job does not pretend everything is fine when his family is killed and his possessions taken away - he rends his clothes, shaves his head and falls to the ground... but in worship, not in rage or despair.
- Spurgeon says "Oh Blessed Hurricane that drives me onto the Rock of Ages"
- Sow your tears (Ps 126) - not randomly, but constructively; take them to God in the company of others (brothers)
- God plus something - if something is taken, everything changes
- God plus nothing - if something is taken, nothing changes
- Job reflects in the middle chapters on the following: sexuality, treatment of the poor and management of money
- "Shall we accept good from God, but not trouble" & "Job never accused God of wrongdoing" - troubles may come from God, but they are not wrong. Paul says they work for good.
- "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21
- See our disappointment in the context of eternity
- Don't idolise life, idolise Jesus
While I agree with the idea behind messages like this, that our relationship with God (and indeed with people) should not be based on what they can do for us, a scratch-my-back scenario, but is it realistic or even possible? In a human relationship where one party gives out but receives nothing in return, we would not condemn them for giving up on it, yet this is the ideal we are to strive for in a relationship with God?
This is not a new idea - it is the message of Daniel 3:17-18 that I heard as a challenge when I was teaching at Herzlia. Then it seemed noble, now it just seems foolish. It's not that I need/want material blessings in return for my worship, or expect happiness or contentment because I follow him, but a little feedback now and again would be nice - this talking to a blank wall became old long, long ago, and I've basically given up trying. So now of course the reason I hear nothing is because I contribute nothing to the relationship... so it's all my fault for not trying hard enough or persevering long enough...
Having said that, God made the move that started this most recent re-foray into counselling, I guess I need to make the next...