“He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again” Job 12:23
God does what He wants; He increases nations and destroys them. He also works uncontested in personal lives. Job reminds Zophar, “You really don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re telling me that if I do this or that I’m going to make God stop inflicting this pain on me? Are you kidding? No, you don’t get it Zophar. Every life has ebbs and flows. It’s up one day and down the next. Last time I checked life wasn’t a party!” Yes, I’m convinced the sooner we realize that life is not a party, the better off we will be, because then we learn to get the grace of God in order to make it.
For whatever reason, God in His sovereign and providential will knows when to make something flow freely and He knows when to pull back. God just does life how He wants. I’ve often thought to myself (and I’m sure you have too), “This problem is the last thing I need right now.” Have you ever thought or voiced something like, “The last thing I need right now is a flat tire.” But God doesn’t listen to me! He simply does what He wants, when He wants. It is a fact – life has its ebbs and flows.
It’s also uncanny to me how often our adversities come in a series, like Job’s did. It seems to me if God could at least stretch them out, I could have some time to regroup. Then I could gather some strength and could take it better. But God doesn’t care about my pacing! He cares deeply about my character though!
He wants so much to use me and make my life a public billboard of His grace, mercy, joy and peace. He says to me, “Look Tim, I know you don’t want pain, but trust me, you only have a few years to live and I have to make somebody a billboard of grace. You just happened to be on my list. You’re going to be that person that I’m going to hammer. I’m going to file on you. I’m going to saw on you and I’m going to break you. But I tell you something wonderful – I am making a masterpiece and I will be there with you the whole way!”
Because we are human, our lives are going to be hammered by adversities like loss. Trust me, that’s just the way life is. We can’t stop the ebbs and we can’t create the flows. We can’t make things go up and we can’t prevent things from going down. That’s outside of our ability. We can get all the insurance we want, we can purpose that we will never get sick, we can say that we’re going to be healthy all our life but my friend, cancer can happen to anybody. People who are strong and capable die in their 50’s. People who are billionaires cannot stop heart disease despite their resources. Nobody gets a chance to make God do things, or make God not do certain things; life has ebbs and flows.
Grief happens to everyone at some point in life. Not only after the death of a loved one, but also after any major change such as losing a job, kids getting married, or moving. No matter the cause, grief is one of the hardest experiences of your life. It is emotionally, mentally, physically and even spiritually exhausting.
You will have some easier days and some very hard days. Don’t be surprised if you are feeling better one day and wake up the next day feeling worse. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, music, even a scent can bring on the intensity of grief. This is normal. Be mentally prepared for the ups and downs by being forewarned. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Unfortunately, tough times are not merely an emotional experience. Bills have to be paid, belongings sorted, rooms cleaned out. All of these things can be overwhelming when you feel emotionally spent. Take life in bite size chunks. Make tasks line up one at a time. While grieving, you might not feel hungry, but be sure to keep eating fresh, healthy food so you will have the energy needed. Stress takes a physical toll. If you are healthy enough to do so, exercise regularly. Even just a short but regular walk will help. Jesus, during His earthly ministry, traveled mostly on foot. Maybe this was done mostly of necessity, but I wonder if it gave Him plenty of opportunities to take in plenty of fresh air, beautiful sights and sounds along with unhurried talks with friends and his Father in heaven. Just know that life has its ups and downs. By God’s grace celebrate the ups and stay steady in the downs.