LINK: Ecclesiastes 7
In this chapter, Solomon does not contradict his advice in the last chapter to eat, drink, and find satisfaction in one's work. He is saying to enjoy what we have while we can, but adversity and hardships also strike and are there to remind us that life is short, and we must make it count by living each day with wisdom, integrity, and close communion with Him.
REFLECTION (written in 2009)
"Consider the work of God
for who is able to straighten what He has bent?"
I cannot tell you how many times I have claimed Ecclesiastes 7:13 through gritted teeth as some circumstances in my life have taken a tragic (at least from my point of view) turn. I have had to look God square in the face and say, "God, You have allowed this to happen, and I do not like what has happened, but I am not going to try to straighten what You have already bent. You are in control, and I relinquish mine. You are God, and I am not."
Often, God allows "bends" in the straight path we think we are taking towards eternity. Wasn't the whole book of Job all about a huge "bend" in Job's righteous road? We are bent toward wanting to straighten God's bends though! Part of maturing in Christ means learning to understand those "bends" as allowed by His hand for His sovereign purposes.
A woman asked me to pray today because her husband will likely lose his job in the latest job cuts from one of the the largest employers in town. For many, these lay-offs have been quite an unexpected "bend" in the road. Many thought they would retire from this company, but there is no job security now. It is a sad time for many. The morale is quite low as many wait for the next axe to lower. Today it was a 5% pay cut, elimination of stock options, and reduction in 401(k) contributions. Many bends today, but we pray that God draws many people closer to His side through the uncertainty of the times. Trust in God is never misplaced trust.
We've been there. In August, the day after we turned from a fantastic exploration trip to Southeast Asia (the picture above is from that trip), George got his pink slip. Thankfully we have had six prior unemployment "bends" in our married life. So, we had this sick (my friend Abigail calls it "positive reframing") sense of excitement about what was around that next bend. We knew that God had something special in mind even if it involved adversity, suffering, or even poverty. We accepted it and tightened our budget to brace for what was ahead. Who were we to attempt to straighten God's bend?
After four months of unemployment, we can testify about the bend! God is good. He continues to be sovereign, yet again (I used to tell girls in my Bible study to "mark it on their calendar" when they saw God sovereignty each day. You should try it!). He was faithful the last five times of unemployment, and guess what? He was faithful once again! We see it was all part of His plan. In those four months, George was able to invest more time in being a part of a team that got the first Perspective on the World Christian Movement course in Corvallis up and running. This has been a huge blessing for us to see 120 people coming every Sunday night excited to see God's name proclaimed among the nations!
In God's prefect timing, four weeks after the course was running smoothly, George started a job with the USDA Forest Service on the OSU campus. In God's perfect way, He "bent" the roads of two of the guys that George meets with so that they are ALSO working on the OSU campus, making it so much easier to meet! Your God at work, once again.
We are so glad we did not waste energy trying to "straighten" things out. God knows what He is doing with our lives, and we can rest confidently in Him!
How do you respond to those "bends" in the road? Maybe you are facing a possible one in the near future or going through it right now. Talk to God about this and listen to what He says to You. Write it down. He may give you a verse to cling to. Write it on a card and memorize it. Return to it again and again. God is in the process of maturing You for His sovereign purpose!. Do not do anything to try to straighten Him out.
Lord, we are grateful for the bends in the road. Teach us not to be straighteners. Teach us to ride the wave of Your sovereign will until we reach Your secure shores. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.