In the movie “The Sound of Music”, Maria sings a love song to the Captain von Trapp and in the lyrics are these lines:
Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could, so
Somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must have done something good.
She sings of being blessed with this relationship because she must have done something good in her life. This type of thinking permeates most of society. Fairness, karma, justice, and giving back are all common phrases we hear when stories are told of either bad or good.
Boys with autism
I have been curious about this attitude since it does seem to affect my thoughts as I struggle to raise two boys with a severe disability (autism). I often receive praise from people who don’t even really know me but give me accolades just because I have two children with a severe disability.
I am also aware of the earlier notion that children with autism are this way because their mothers were cold towards them as infants. Though that theory has long since been tossed out, people still go to this theory as a possible cause of certain childhood conditions. I have also heard a suggestion that the sins of our fathers are upon us and our boys.
What does the Bible teach about the tough stuff and how it relates to our behavior?
I have discovered there are many different situations with different results. So while some situations may apply to us, not all are necessarily what the Lord may be doing in my life or yours. However, we certainly can learn from all of them.
As far as correction from the Lord concerning sin in our lives, Paul speaks about his correction to the saints through letters so he would not be sharp with people in person and that it was for the purpose of edification rather than destruction. 2 Cor. 13:7-10
Correction is for our benefit
Any correction I receive from the Lord will always be for my benefit, to make me better and not to destroy me. My trials are not the same thing as correction or rebuke. Correction would most likely come from a friend, an elder or from the Spirit directly and would lead to a clear understanding of what I am doing wrong. Job 5:17 says “Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”
Trials are not always correction
In the context of what happened to Job, it was not correction that was happening. Eliphaz, a friend of Job did in fact suggest that Job’s afflictions were a result of wrongdoing. Job responds by not giving in and maintaining his innocence.
Then God intervenes and sets things straight. He says to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” Job 42:7
A higher standard
I am not sure how much of Job’s life is applicable to mine but I know that as much as I try to hold to this standard, that I often fall short. Job was such an upright man that there was “none like him on the earth” and God allowed Satan to oppress Job with every possible affliction short of taking his life because He knew Job would not curse God as Satan was implying.
Job was confident in his standing with God and was not succumbing to the suggestion of friends that his afflictions were consequences of sin. And this is something that I can apply to my own life. I can know and understand God’s love, mercy and grace towards me throughout all circumstances and this is most certainly not a punishment from God.
Paul received an affliction. A thorn in the flesh. Paul writes about his thorn in the flesh as a means to keep him from becoming haughty, 2 Cor. 12:8-10. First this was a “messenger of Satan to buffet me”. Buffet means to strike with a fist. Satan sent a messenger to afflict him with a thorn in his side. Satan was not pleased with what Paul was doing with this brand new church of believers in Christ so he took to physically striking him with this thorn.
Paul prayed three times for the Lord to remove it and the Lord’s response to Paul’s prayer was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. The thorn was not removed as far as we know and Paul then concludes that he would rather brag about his weaknesses in order to allow Christ’s power to be magnified. Christ’s power is magnified in a life that is weak. Wow!
The power of weakness
I looked up the word weak in the thesaurus and discovered what this word might imply in a person’s life. The words were fragile, powerless, sickly, shaky, delicate, puny, senile, tender, unsubstantial, wasted. To the world, weak and pathetic is useless but to God it is the means the power of Christ!
The most appropriate response when I receive praise from people is to say that what they see is not me but the power of Christ in me. It also teaches me that Satan can indeed affect me. Until now, I did not think that Satan could touch me since I have the Spirit in me but it seems clear to me that he can and the Lord will sometimes allow it for a purpose. This also teaches me that I should be praying about Satan’s influence in our lives as Paul did!
The glory of God
Above all, the circumstances of my life are exactly for the purpose of giving God glory. I am learning many other things in this pursuit such as learning to give thanks in all circumstances, which is a hard one. I am learning not to be envious of others who have normal children who are thriving – also a hard one.
I am learning to think above these circumstances to a greater eternal value. I will always need to be learning this one. Be encouraged today that in all of the struggles of life God will always remain the same. He is constant in truth but also in His mercy and grace which are the opposite of karma and loves us and wants what is the absolute best for us!