In Your Walk With God

For the week of May 31st, 2020

How do you bounce back after your life gets wrecked?  

“Anxiety and fear are cousins but not twins. Fear sees a threat. Anxiety imagines one. Fear screams, Get out! Anxiety ponders, What if? Fear results in fight or flight. Anxiety creates doom and gloom. Fear is the pulse that pounds when you see a coiled rattlesnake in your front yard. Anxiety is the voice that tells you, Never, ever, for the rest of your life, walk barefooted through the grass. There might be a rattlesnake … somewhere.” – Max Lucado
Have you ever experienced that? Something happens, something pretty bad, and you start wondering how long it is going to take for that thing to happen again? Or maybe not that specific thing, but something like it? 
You might expect that every friend is going to turn their back on you just like that one time someone you trusted did. Or maybe, every time someone tries to get close to you, the only thing you can think is, what if they leave? Because someone that was supposed to be there for you isn’t any more. Your anxiety might kick in every time you fail at something and you’re constantly asking the question, “What if I fail the next time? What will people think? Will I be mad at myself?” 
How do you bounce back from something like that? Where your anxiety is born out of something real and painful? Where anxiety is so normal it starts to feel like it’s a part of who you are? 
In the book, The Coddling of the American Mind, Dr. Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff outline several “terrible ideas” that have become common in society today and are influencing people for the worse. One of those ideas is: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker
That idea has led to so many people trying to live safe and easy lives. The problem? Safe and easy lives don’t make us better and they don’t make us stronger. The things that have happened to you can absolutely be used to make you stronger, more confident, and better equipped to handle everything else that will come at you in your life. 
A second “terrible idea” they address is this: Always trust your feelings. Your feelings are real, and your feelings are valid, but your feelings aren’t always true, and your feelings are not you. 
Those are ideas illustrated beautifully in the story of Job. This is a guy whose life truly got wrecked in a massive way. But he never let what happened to him make him weaker, and he never let his feelings lead him into negative behaviors. He chose to let what happened to him fuel him to be better, and he chose to trust God even when his feelings were screaming at him to give up and give in to the anxiety he must have been feeling. 
Also, don’t get too weirded out by the conversations between God and Satan in this story. The point of Job is not about whether or not that conversation literally happened. The story of Job is about wrestling with the complexities of life, the reality of suffering, and how we relate to God through all of it. 
Challenge: Reflect and recognize. Reflect on the negative experiences of your life. How have those made you stronger? Recognize that your emotions are not you, and they do not control you. What is one way you can start owning your emotions instead of letting your emotions own you?  
Job 1 English Standard Version (ESV)
Job's Character and Wealth
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed[a] God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
Satan Allowed to Test Job
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan[b] also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Satan Takes Job's Property and Children
13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants[c] with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
Romans 5 English Standard Version (ESV)
Peace with God Through Faith
3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.