Month: June 2021

Let’s NOT go to the replay

I looked out my window at the snowy hillside on a bright windy early March day during the isolation of the COVID pandemic. Starting to read Psalm 90, I found this amazing request:

Make us rejoice for as many days as you have humbled us,
for as many years as we have seen adversity.
(Psalm 90:15 CSB)  

When we remember our own times of affliction and trouble, how do we react? Do our memories cause anxiety, annoyance and grief as they repeat endlessly?

Today’s opening verse reminds us that affliction is only temporary. Indeed, if I keep re-experiencing or re-feeling troublesome past things, then I am ripping myself off of God’s righteousness and peace. It’s helpful to think of the meaning of resentment: it means to re-feel something. So resentment is a re-play of past negative feelings.

I remember a time when I underwent a sharp and prolonged rebuke by a boss and I felt my face turning bright red and staying red. Yet today when I recall that incident, instead of re-feeling the humiliation, I view the job loss that followed as God’s way of bringing a key turning point in my life.  Sure, at the time it seemed sharp and unexpected — who likes being fired? But God used it in leading me to a new career and in setting the stage for exactly where he has me in life in 2021.

Seeing how God used that past humiliation to bring me into a new career reminds me that God has a way of turning adversity to joy.   

 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
    that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
(Psalm 90:14)  

I don’t claim that this joy-replacement is instant and 24 by 7. There are other humiliations I have had that God is still applying his restoring grace to! But even though I have not been instantly cured of the pull of old bad memories and experiences, I am glad that their grip is shrinking and that I can keep being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Even if it’s my fault ?

During a hot, humid, oppressive and suffocating week last summer, I set a record. Running in the nearby town of Mountain Lakes early one morning, I sucked in yet another bug. That reminded me of when my wife and I went to a bluegrass concert in Overpeck Park in the Meadowlands in Bergen County. The group had to stop their set early—-their lead vocalist had breathed in one bug too many and she had to beg that they stop.

None of these bugs were inhaled on purpose! Yes, some misfortune happens without us making any stupid choices.

But sometimes setbacks do depend on our own unwise choices.  Like the time I had a brutal workout with two running friends that continued until I got totally exhausted …. finally we were running on rough terrain with gravel and roots and rocks…… suddenly I tripped and fell flat on my face…. followed by a trip to the ER for MRI & stiches!

My foolhardy run reminds me of the old song Margaritaville:

Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame
But I know it’s my own [darn] fault

In Psalm 107 both scenarios happen. First, when it’s no fault of their own,
some sailors are caught up in a terrifying storm. And then:

They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
(Psalm 107:26-27)

They surely reached their limits! Excellently, they call out to the Lord and are rescued:

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
(Psalm 107:28)

The second case is when it is their own fault:
 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
(Psalm 107:17)

You might think that the Lord would not want to listen to those idiots.  But he does!

We see a beautiful shocking amazing thing about grace:
The Lord gives the exact same reply to the rebels as for the innocent guys!
 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
(Psalm 107:19)

I’m glad that God always listens and acts when we sincerely cry out. He brings us relief whether we are the victim or it’s our own stupid fault.