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Friday, August 19, 2011

The Reason For Crazy Times? – by Elaine Stock

Our guest blogger today is Elaine Stock. She's sharing an important reminder of God's mysterious ways. Sometimes we have to walk through trying times, but God is always there ... and we are better for those times ... even if we can't figure out how ;o). Trust Him, and you will always make it through.

The Reason For Crazy Times? by Elaine Stock

We’ve all had them. Some days are full of people and situations that make you ponder why you ever took that job or said certain words that were twisted by others and aimed back at you, as if you were the center dot on a target. Or why you just stood on that one line in the store when that customer ahead of you acted up and spewed an assortment of less than stellar adjectives from his mouth. I was having one of those days at work not too long ago. The long drive home didn’t help to relieve any stress. But God has this fascinating time-theme going: He always puts things before you for a reason. So, I took it as no coincidence that day when I stumbled across a scripture passage quoted in a friend’s blog:

As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Is it just me or does it seem to anyone else that God might have placed you next to people that if you had a choice you definitely would have opted to remain miles . . . countries . . .or even centuries apart from?

Back in elementary school my 2nd grade teacher assigned me to sit next to Stewart. No one else wanted to sit next to him because Stewart ate flies. Really. He would swat the poor insect that was simply enjoying buzzing around being an annoying pest, then Stewart would wrap the fly in a piece of tissue, roll it into a ball, and yes—hold your stomachs—would proceed to swallow the fly-wrapped burial cloth. Okay, Mrs. Lansing—was it really necessary for me to sit next to little Stewart? Or, was God showing me an early life lesson that many “different” people exist in the world and for a myriad of reasons do disturbing things without a rhyme or reason? And, that I could go on with my life, perhaps even flourishing?

Then there was James in high school who had a penchant for calling me dog-face and tried his best to get his cronies to go along with him. James’ friends caved at first but than quit while James continued on in his mission work to give me a complex. Not one to retaliate or linger indefinitely in hurt, I begged my parents to take me to a dermatologist who helped clear my adolescent acne. I also got my hair styled in a way that nicely framed my face. James made me wonder about God’s purpose then. To strive to improve my circumstances or was it to trust Him when it comes to those who—for whatever reason—seek to spring havoc in my life? Interesting because the meaning of dogface is: a soldier, an infantryman. Was it that God didn’t necessarily want me to be insulted as much as He wanted James to experience that, instead of receiving flack back from me, he received peace, the proverbial other cheek to slap?

What about my co-worker from many years ago, Margaret, who had decided that no matter what I did, my endeavors were wrong and I was truly the worst person ever put on the face of the world? She gave new meaning to the words ridicule, belittling, and negativity. At first I was hurt by her words, as well as amazed, because others had praised my job performance. But I looked around, and inward, and found ways to try harder to improve. Know what? I did. I called upon God and with His grace I excelled in my work. I still don’t understand why, or if, He necessarily wants me to experience mean, spiteful people and trying times, but in seeking Him out, and asking for His help and for His mercy on the Margarets I’ve met through the years, I keep learning that I can improve myself and that He, like a father disciplining his children, will take care of those Margarets.

I’ve experienced a lot of iron sharpening. Since tools become dull without use, I imagine there will be more sharpening ahead to come. I don’t know why it has to come in stressful, awkward, or less-than-desirable situations or associations, but I’m trusting He has His reasons.

Have you had your iron sharpened lately?

Born and raised in Brooklyn, and then enjoying the more rural areas of upstate New York, Elaine Stock considers herself blessed to catch glimpses of all walks of life.
What she never expected was that a college major in psychology and sociology would walk her through the see-saw industries of food service and the weight-loss business; co-ownership with her husband in piano restoration; and ten years in community leadership, which includes her local Zoning Board of Appeals. She and her husband make their home in the 1860s Rutland Railroad depot they restored. All great fodder for creating fiction.
Cutting her writing teeth as a former member of Romance Writers of America, Elaine presented workshops, attended several conferences, and placed in a few writing contests. She has studied the craft of contemporary and literary fiction with Michael Neff, editor at the New School of New York. Now a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she dedicates her writing to God, writing stories of how God’s love shines even in the darkest of families. The July 2010 issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine featured her short story IN HIS OWN TIME. 2011 brought two major blessings: placing as a semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest and starting a blog, Everyone’s Story (http://elainestock.blogspot.com). She is represented by Reclaim Management. Find her also on at www.twitter.com/ElaineStock


  1. Connie, thanks so much for asking me to be your guest this week. God's timing again proves He certainly knows what He is doing and I must trust Him . . .my old car and I finally had to part our ways this week. This comes after many months of putting bandaids on the poor old thing and after two days of--without realizing it--possibly putting my life in harms's way while out on the road. But, He waited until a big piano job was completed so financially it wasn't too painful to purchase another vehicle--another previously loved car, but much more updated than my old clonker. It's amazing how much on a daily basis He shows me. I hope this blog feature will encourage others.

  2. Fascinating article, Elaine. And how bravely written. We all have those awful moments and rarely want to remember them. But you are so wise to have tried to make sense of them in such a positive manner. No wonder you are such in insightful writer.

    I remember some awful moments in school too, but I think the most recent and disconcerting was when I heard that my alcohlic father absolutely hated coming to my house. He much prefers my sister's place where they can drink together . . . and sadly get drunk.

    But it makes me pray for them more, and makes me ask the question if I am doing my best to show them the love of Christ.

    Thank you for this inspiring and thought provoking article.

  3. Christine, thanks for your kind words. I've done a lot of thinking during my years, sometimes amazed about the things that have happened and other times just plain dumbfounded. Sometimes it's thank-you-God-thank-you and other times it's why-me-God-why-me? I'm just trusting God has something up His sleeve, and that it has to be good!

    Sadly, I'm thinking it's not so much your dad hates visiting at your home as much as he enjoys his drink--and knows where to find it easily. Think of God sending His heavenly servants out to embrace you--and your dad and sister--upon hearing your prayer petition. I'm thinking I'm seeing a huge smile stretched across His face. That's what counts, I think.

  4. Christine, I think I agree with Elaine. I've had family members who were visibly disappointed to find they were being sent to my house when they discovered we don't have alcohol readily available. You ARE showing them the love of Christ by not enabling the drinking at your house.

  5. An interesting blog, Elaine, and an interesting quote from Proverbs. It gives one something to think about. I hope you didn't have to endure the fly trap kid for too long.

  6. Very nicely done, Elaine. Inspiring.

  7. Elaine,
    Wonderful blog....brought back the days God was sharpening my while putting up with cruel school-mates who totured me because I have a walking disability. He not only sharpened me, but gave me mounds of thick skin and an element of forgivness too.

  8. Gail--LOL about the "fly trap kid." As I commented to Connie, truth be told, Fly Trap probably heads some multi-million dollar business and is looking down upon all those who never ate flies as a kid. May God bless him, and all the interesting people He pairs us up with. Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I hope you'll visit my blog.

  9. Leann, thanks for the visit and your humbling comment.

    Roberta, I'm so sorry you had to endure awful harassment from other kids when you were young. But I'm glad you persevered, becoming the lovely person you are today. You're a fine example of how God holds tight onto the hands He loves :)

  10. Hi Connie,
    I know that you've already won it, but I awarded you the Liebster Blog award today on my blog :)