Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. James 1:2 (The Book)
Oh my, how this is a difficult thing to do right now. And it continues...
For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. James 1:3-4 (The Book)
I am certainly being given an opportunity for growth right now. I see it, I know it, I feel it. And yet, all I really want to do is punch somebody in the face. THEN I'd feel the joy!
I know... I probably wouldn't. I'd probably just feel worse, not only because handling problems with violence is never a good thing, but also because, chances are, I would break my hand.
I have tried for a long time to be patient in this particular situation; my husband has on occasion called me "long-suffering." I've prayed for God to take control, and I know that He will, in His way and in His time. But after about 12 years of being taken advantage of by a human being who has no intentions of making it right or doing his part, I'm having trouble not taking matters into my own hands. Especially when, for the last 2 1/2 years, he has all but laughed in my face and the face of the Louisiana Judicial System. He thinks he's above the law and that the world owes him, and claims, when the people he wrongs finally stand up and say something, that everybody is "out to get him." The saddest part of all is that the court system has proven that it agrees with him by doing absolutely nothing to correct the situation, at least to this point. (I'm being intentionally vague. You may draw your own conclusions.)
A couple of weeks ago, I taught my teen Sunday schoolers about the Proverbs 31 woman. If you're unfamiliar, she's basically the ideal that we, as women, should strive to emulate. She works hard, she speaks wisely but gently and is "clothed with strength and dignity." I so desperately want to be this woman. But I'm having some trouble with the whole 'speaking wisely and GENTLY' thing. I would prefer to scream and cuss.
Another thing about the Proverbs 31 woman... she lays the ground work and then has faith that the Lord will do his part. "She laughs with no fear of the future." She makes sure she's done all she can do to ensure her own well-being and that of her family and then leaves the rest to God. She does her part, keeps doing the right thing and working and plugging away, and then sits back and trusts. I've got the working and doing and plugging thing down. I do the heavy lifting. I do my part and more. But the sitting back and trusting is hard for me. I suppose it's the impatient control-freak in my little human heart.
I'm coming to understand, though, that by not sitting back and having faith I am basically telling God that I don't trust Him, and that I can handle things better than He can. And that's just stupid. No matter how good a job I do at anything, it's still flawed. But anything and everything He does is perfect.
So I guess I need to continue to work hard, and do what comes next. Pray when I'm struggling, and trust the Lord to take care of everything else, regardless of what comes my way. With regard to the predicament I wrote about above, I've done all I can. I've begged and pleaded, and followed the letter of the law. I've taken care of my business and of my family and done what I thought was right. It's completely out of my hands at this point. So now I sit and wait, and try to be wise and gentle. And above all else... I must have faith.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalms 46:10 (NIV)