I have not been ship wrecked or beaten to within an inch of my life in the last twelve months. Actually, neither of these things has ever happened to me which means that I’m doing a bit better than Paul.
I have not lost all of my fortunes, had my kids die suddenly, and then been covered in puss-filled blistered. This suggests I am ahead of Job, too.
But it has been a long, hard, sucky year. Despite my failure to hit just the same challenges as Job, a few friends, quite independently of each other, have observed that this has been a Job-like year for me.
I was pretty well wrung-out today in church. It was a hard to sit through the service, but a good kind of hard, I think. Lots of wrestling with the meaning of it all, turning some of pain over to Jesus, taking a long hard look at what responsibility I need to own and learn from.
Too be honest, it didn’t tie itself so neatly in a bow at the time. And it still isn’t entirely neatly tied up. Theres a part of me that has turned it over, and another that is holding onto it; a part of me that is owning responsibility for my parts and a part of me that’s just simply angry at God, a part of me that sees the meaning and a part of me that does not.
My church community has been so giving and loving through this whole year. And this just adds to the quagmire of emotions; it adds guilt to the mix, guilt that despite the love and kindness I am still struggling and anxious and fearful and yes, angry.
And one of the things I am angry about is this:
I have been this recipient. This object of kindness. I don’t feel like I have a lot to give, a lot to share. One problem with this is it leads to shame. It leads to fearing that I am some kind of leech. I have this fear that things will always be this way.
I thought about the widow. Jesus said her tiny little act of giving counts for more than the wealth given by the Pharisee.
The part of this story that I got before was this: her giving was an act of faith, because she had real need of the moneys that she offered up. A rich man, giving out of abundance, at best, he will be inconvenienced by his genorousity. Presumably, he is still holding on to enough that he need not directly rely on God to get his needs met.
Today I got this glimpse of something more. Something in addition to the faith implicit in the widows act. I am struggling a little to explain it.
It would have been easy for the widow to sit like me, and bemoan that she has nothing to give. I suppose I am pretty good company. The disciples had just that boys lunch with which to feed the thousands. They too, were paralyzed by the size of the need. They too overlooked the little that they did have to give.
When God looks at the tiny amount the widow has, or all of the riches of the richest man… he sees not much difference. These are still both from God. When viewed from infitinity, they are both unimaginably… tiny and pathetic.
It is not the quantity. Any quantity that we can come up with comes from God, and is such a tiny fraction of what God has.
In the middle of the sadness and shame its hard to see that. There are these little tiny things I can offer. But I am so ashamed of how small they are when compared to what I have received… a talk myself out of offering them up.
And so I become like the servant who just buried the riches; protectively holding onto what I have because of the fear.