Since I began my endeavor to help people search for daffodils (you can check out the inaugural post if you aren’t quite sure what that means: http://www.searchingfordaffodils.com/someday-is-today-originally-posted-february-21-2016/ ), I’ve been blessed to enjoy interaction with friends and strangers as a result of my posts. The two most common themes in those interactions are the struggles to recognize daffodils in general or the more specific battle with persistent anger.
In the past few weeks I have blogged separately about “fairness” and about how some people seem to treat grief as a competition. There’s a part of our human nature that creates a sense of emotional entitlement for some of us. The practical application is that we believe we deserve the best case scenario (or that the next person deserves to have it as bad as we’ve had it). That trait is but one of a long list that are far from noble. We should send a “thank you” card to Adam & Eve for disobeying God and allowing us to inherit a sin nature.
More than once, we see this entitled nature on display in the Bible. In Matthew 20, Jesus tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Those who labored all day were angered that they were paid the same amount as those who only worked for an hour. The owner reminded them of two key points: 1) you agreed to work for the pay you received; and 2) it’s MY money, what I agree to pay someone else is not your concern. In John 21, Jesus reinstates Peter (after Peter had denied Jesus three times) and Jesus speaks words that foreshadow martyrdom for his disciple. Instead of having gratitude that Jesus even acknowledged his presence – never mind that Jesus was inserting Peter back into the game as the captain of the team – Peter was focused on his buddy. Seeing John standing beside him, Peter looks at Jesus and says, “Lord, what about him?”
What about him? Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22, NIV). The Contemporary Andy Translation of that verse reads, “It ain’t none of your business what happens to him, bozo.” Grieving is hard enough by itself, we don’t need to add to it our resentment that God isn’t being as kind to us as He is to others. It doesn’t help us when we have misplaced anger towards others over things that neither they nor you have control over.
If I said to you that “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away,” I wouldn’t be the first person you’ve ever heard utter those words. Remarkably, not everyone recognizes those words as a direct quote from the Bible. They’re from Job 1:21, spoken by Job after he has lost EVERYTHING (go read Job 1:1-20 if you don’t believe me). There’s more to the quote, though. Job finishes the sentence by calling for the name of the Lord to be praised/blessed.
That dang human nature wants the Lord to give to us. When he does, it’s easy to post about on social media or to say “I have a praise” during the Wednesday night prayer meeting at church. The “takes away” part, we don’t like that so much. When something is taken away from us – even if it wasn’t God who did the taking – our natural response is to look around and figure out what got taken from the other folks around us.
Here’s what God wants you to know when you find yourself in that spot, surveying the scene and stewing about the multitude of things that don’t seem right: 1) it ain’t none of your business what’s been taken away from anybody else; 2) if I’m the one who gave it to you, then I certainly have the right to take it from you at any time and in any way; 3) the many things I’ve given you – and that you still have – outweigh whatever’s been taken from you (salvation, anyone?).
Praise be to the name of the Lord. Enjoy the daffodils!
[NOTE: Thank you so much for taking time to read these words. If you ever find any encouragement or strength, I hope you’ll subscribe and keep up with the semi-weekly updates. If a post touches you in any positive way, leave a comment (I need all the encouragement I can get). If I write something that might be helpful to one of your friends or acquaintances, send them a link or share it on your own social media pages. I love hearing from people who came across “searching for daffodils” through one of you!]