To all the fathers out there: Father’s Day has turned into, yet another, commercialized event on the calendar. If you love your Father, give him a card, gift, and make sure they have a relaxing day. I’ll be first to say, ‘I enjoy the attention;’ but maybe we’re missing something. Maybe Father’s Day is the best opportunity to reflect on fatherhood. After all, what makes a father, a father? — kids. What would happen if, instead of focusing on ourselves, we honestly reflected on the amazing gift and responsibility of fatherhood?
Sure, kids can still celebrate their father! But maybe fathers should stop to reflect on the blessing behind Father’s Day — their kids.
I look at my kids and I’m blown away that God has blessed me with two of them. Sometimes I still don’t believe it! The last three years were a beautiful blur of excitement.
Yes, sometimes they’re crazy. Yes, I want to bang my head off the wall from time to time. But I don’t have to think very long before I remember how blessed I am to be their dad.
How do we respond when bad things happen? Whether we articulate it or not, we either make the choice to curse God, or bless God. If we blame God or push him away, we are denying his grace, and essentially cursing God and his plan. If we embrace God and depend on him, we are accepting his grace and essentially blessing God and his plan. That might sound a little simple and black and white, but it’s the basic story.
We inherently know that God knows what’s best for us. So why do we sometimes question God?
I can’t share all the details of Job’s story in this short post, but when you’re able, I would encourage you to read all 42 chapters of Job. Listen to his heart, it will inspire and challenge you.
God offered Satan a chance to witness how strong Job’s faith actually was. Satan told God:
“…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.” (Job 1:11-12)
God gave him permission to do anything, but take his life. Job lost all of his possessions, all his servants, and all ten children. On top of that, he was burdened with sores all over his body.
Job had a choice to make: to curse God or bless God. Even though is wife was encouraging him to curse God and run (2:9), Job’s response to God was painful, yet full of blessing:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. TheLordgave, and theLordhas taken away;blessed be the name of theLord.” (Job 1:21)
Powerful words after losing every blessing he had. Was he heartless? No, he grieved the loss of his children (1:20). Did he push God away? No, his focus made him stronger and his faith truly showcased God’s grace.
Jesus spoke some clarity on this. The disciples saw a blind man and asked:
2 “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, butthat the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:2-3)
Our free-will gives us the ability to surrender our lives to God. We don’t cause our pain, but we chose to allow God to use our pain for his Glory. When we freely chose God, we express true love for God.
How should we respond to pain?
When others are going through pain, we can learn from Job’s friends. We need to show sympathy, mourn with them, and spend time with them (2:11-13). That’s enough. Give them support and share in their pain. Paul wrote, “If one member suffers, all suffer together…” (1 Cor 12:26). Our goal is to support each other, not to explain why we’re in pain and/or how to stop it.
When we respond to our own pain, we have to remember that there’s nothing we’ve done to cause the experience. God is not angry with us. We are all broken people, and because of the fall of man (Adam and Eve), we’ll experience pain until heaven. So in our pain we respond with sadness, mourning, worship and blessing (Job 1:20-21).
What can we expect on the other side of pain?
God is faithful, but the goal isn’t “something better”. We’re too quick to think of Job’s later “double blessing” and slow to reflect on the here and now. When Job chose to remain faithful to God, he had no idea of his future blessing. His response was, “Why NOT me? What makes me so special that I would not experience hardship?” (Job 2:10)1
In the end, Job received double of everything he once had (Job 42:12f). If the pattern continued, however, we would think Job would be blessed with 20 children. The reality is, his first ten children would be reunited in eternity and his new blessing included ten more.3 Job’s children were never replaced, instead he was blessed with ten more. The story of maturity is often much different than the story of today.
For the last 50 years, Vaden has struggled with depression. Along that journey he helped lead his family through his daughter’s teenage pregnancy, the sudden loss of his fifteen year-old son, and watched as cancer took his first wife.
Life was far from prefect, as Vaden continues to say today, but seeing God’s grace through his family, and fellow believers, helped him keep his focus on God. While often a challenge to do, he chose to bless God, not curse God. As a result, his pain brought him closer to God, and stronger in the faith.
Part of Vaden’s story (22:51), along with the biblical account of Job can be found here:
How do you respond to pain? I would love to hear your stories; comment below.