Saturday, November 16, 2013

Extinguishing anguish: Yes it can be!

A friend of mine gave birth a few years back to a very large son!  This child had the chest of Atlas. It seems that he crawled quite well down the birth canal, but his chest became lodged in the pelvic area. He would move no further. I heard screams of anguish from my friend in my remote position in the hospital! My friend couldn't pass the child and the pain was unbearable. An emergency Cesarean section ensued and the barrel-chested baby made it through. Twenty five years ago mother, or child or both would have died.

After recovery the mother was wheeled out on a gurney. It looked as if she had been beaten to a pulp! Not physically scarred, but emotionally drained. My thoughts were that there is no way this young anguished mother would ever ever give birth again. Surely she had learned her lesson. Not so! She birthed another child!

John 16:21 "A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world."

Anguish! We've all had it. It's the agonizing torment to either our minds or bodies. This young mother certainly experienced physical pain, but the "drained girl" who I saw had mental agony as well. How was she able to forget and enjoy a pregnancy again? John 16:21 tells us that "for joy that a human being has been born into the world"!   The miracle of God is a child born!  Each baby born into this world is a complex entity of perfectly interacting and complementing systems who God intends will make you happy, happy, happy! Indeed a newborn baby is about as precious as can be.

Men never experience the anguish of giving birth. Most doctors say that women are stronger than men because their endurance for pain (i.e., giving birth) is better. I won't argue with that!  I do know from experience that men fail to notice pain as they work if they are concentrated on what they're doing. Sometimes after working on a car I come into the house all bloody and have no idea that I've been injured! This isn't pain endurance, but concentration so intense that it's not interrupted by pain. Perhaps God built that into our complex identities so that we never have to anguish more than we can handle. Scripture nowhere says "God will never give you more than you can handle"! He did say that he will never allow you to be "tempted" more than you can handle (1 Cor 10:13). "Temptation" is not anguish!

Who handled the most anguish (from scripture)? Job! The author of his anguish was Satan! Job anguished because God allowed the devil to inflict injury, both physical and mental anguish. Although God never "said" that he wouldn't give a person more than they can handle, he did demonstrate that attribute in the way that he put a "hedge" around Job. If we're Christians God puts a "hedge" around us so that we don't have to bear more than we can handle!

Yes, when we're down and out, we can have joy again! Job prospered and had joy after his anguish and we can too! When it seems that the end of the world has come for us a brighter day is ahead... if we're faithful!

Matthew 25:23 "His lord said to him (the servant who doubled the two talents), ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ "

Yes, if we're faithful we may "Enter into the joy of your Lord". I've lost all my possessions before and some in my family have been destroyed financially. For each of us "doom and gloom" was our despair. How can we go on? It's by faith!  I realize that what I have is borrowed, or at least a gift from God. When I leave I'm taking very little with me. My hope is that all I have shall be restored because in Heaven I'll live in a mansion with all my needs met! My earthly possessions are temporal. They mean little to me in the afterlife, but what I have is admittedly desirable in this life. Hope abounds in my heart and joy is in my heart!

How about my dear ones? Just as mothers anguish is brightened by the joy of a child, what happens when the worst happens to one of our children? Anguish again. For me the most dreaded thing in life is for a catastrophe to happen to one of my children. Even more so than my own eminent death!  I don't know how I could bear the loss of any one of my three children and hope the "hedge" remains around them. I'm not only speaking of death, but dire circumstances. I would rather starve myself than see one of my children starve. I would rather my life be ruined by poor decisions than the lives of my children ruined! That's not meddling. That's love! That's the love of that same child who was born so innocent and brought so much joy! I pray often for the best for my children. Not what I deem best, but God's will for them.

Here's a promise that maintains my hope, my joy:

Proverbs 22:6  (NKJV) "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it."
All my children are properly "trained in the way (they) should go", but may not be living it consciously right now. The seed is planted. There is a drought. Perhaps a long one, but the promise is  "And when he is old he will not depart from it." While the child is "in the flesh" (worldly) he or she may think that they don't need the Lord, but in their hearts, that's exactly what they know they need and will seek communion with God again someday as they have been taught! The harbinger is God! He doesn't promise he will wait. Although a grown child's heart may still be tender, it may be that God removes that protective hedge for just a while (as a test) and Satan provides anguish. Children of all, return to the Lord before the agony arrives. The promise is joy!

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