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?
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