Saturday, November 23, 2013

On the pursuit of well-being in a sin-filled word

Believe it or not, sometimes, ... yes, even I, ... spout my opinions.  (For those of you who are not frequent readers, that's supposed to be irony.  I'm very, very well-known for spouting.  Loudly.  And when in person, it's often accompanied by wild gesticulations.)

One of the things that sometimes wears on me as a mother is the whole notion of health.  The health of the kids, the health of the mom.  Physical health, Emotional health, Spiritual health, ... I get tired of thinking about health.  
There are so many health concerns in the world and so many answers.  To immunize or not?  Which diet is the healthiest?  Which children have which food sensitivities?  Is it chronic fatigue, lyme's disease, depression, hormone imbalance of any number of varieties, insulin resistance, adrenal fatigue, or just what?
And after ten kids, and 20 years of parenting, not to mention 40 some years of life in this world, for me, it's all just got to be in God's hands. 
I have too much on my plate, and our budget is too constricted to do anything more than what we're doing. 
The way I see it, the way the Bible tells us, this is a sinful and broken world. 
If it's not one thing, it would be something else. 
Way back when, I started researching all this junk for a variety of childhood illness related reasons, (chronic ear problems, ADD type stuff, autism, Aspbergers, skin issues, ...)   And throughout the years different research for myself, ... things like depression, PMS, chronic fatigue, metabolism, etc. 

There are a whole host of ideas out there.  Many good and well researched.  And many cockamamie. Some people have skills and concentration and time and interest to research it all.  I simply do not.  I mean, it's all interesting to me.  And fascinating, too, all the different ways that are outside the mainstream, where people have found relief from one thing or another.

One friend was convinced Jeremy's ear troubles were from yeast (The Yeast Connection). There was the potato/alcohol connection thing someone recommended for dealing with mood swings  (Potatoes not Prozac). 

Treating various illnesses with homeopathy, the science of which claims that the smaller the particle of remedy, the better the result.  And for some things, when combined with about a hundred lifestyle changes, it seems to help.

There's hyper- and hypo- glycemia, glucose intolerance and other metabolic disorders.  Celiac disease, fibro-myalgia, and other auto-immune disorders.  The list goes on and on.  

And at it's core, it's all simply that we live in a sinful and broken world.  Things are WRONG with our bodies.  They are not and will not work right.

And we, as sinful people living in this sinful world, making our way as best we can.  As my friend and mentor Dort P. put it, we muddle through.

By God's grace, our mainstream and alternative medicines sometimes offer solutions that help alleviate the results of this brokenness.  And other times, we suffer along with St. Paul.  We bear the thorns in our flesh.  We must simply live with the problem.  And with St. Paul, God says to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Given the same situations, each of us must make our own decisions.  Is it time to do more research and try more things.  Or is it time to bear the thorn in our flesh?  Each of us is different.  Each situation, personality, financial situation, location, ...  We're all different people and will make different decisions.

Sometimes, due to new or different information, a new or different perspective in life, the same person will make different choices at different times.

It's all part of the challenge of living under God's grace, but in a broken world.

It's easy to look back with a new and different perspective, and carry regrets about choices we made in the past.  If only I had known ...  or my son or daughter's life could be so much better, ... or I wish I had tried ...,  or what have you.

And yet we know that by God's grace, according to His wisdom and timing, living under His providential care under the grace of Christ's forgiveness, we chose the best we could for that part in our life.  We muddled through. 

We simply are where we are today.  Each day.  Serving our Lord according to the talents and abilities God has given us.

Sinning as we all do.  Failing to do those things we ought and instead doing those things we ought not to do. 

But also clothed in Christ's righteous wedding garment put on us at our baptism and through faithful use of the Word and Sacrament, we serve God.   Doing the work God lays before us each day.   According to our abilities and interests and choices.

All of us.  We all have broken parts.  Emotionally, physically.  Things that simply aren't right.  We sometimes find one solution, other times another.  And we carry on.  We continue, as we're able.  We fulfill our daily vocations, as best we can. 

And we know we will sin.  We know we will fail.  But we keep putting one foot in front of the other, resting assured in God's Grace that He will most importantly, lead us to heaven in the end; and secondarily use us, broken as we are, to His Glory.

I think I've probably mentioned this passage before, but it's so profound to me, especially with regard to life choices and mistakes, I'm going to write about it again.  It offers great hope for me in those times when I have to question and re-evaluate decisions, past and present.

It's just a little passage, really.  Eleven words in the book of Hebrews. "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."  (Heb. 11:20)  Just eleven words.  So terse.  But so full of comfort in this world of sin.

The passage itself doesn't show all of the Bible's truth.  But it reflects a particular concrete example of how God sees us through faith in the righteousness of Christ.

If you  haven't read it in awhile, refer back to the account of Jacob and Esau in Genesis.  Their birth and younger years are recorded briefly in chapter 25, starting at verse 19.  The account of Isaac blessing his sons, is recorded in chapter 27.  Read on to the resolution, which doesn't come until chapter 33. 

God, in His Holy Word, has recorded for us both the good and the bad in His people.  He shows us time and time again that we simply cannot make it on our own.  Even the Biblical heroes fall, time and time again.

In the account of Isaac, Jacob and Esau, our human wisdom sees stubborn old Isaac not wanting to bless his sons according to God's will and His prophecy before the boys were born.
“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”
We see the treachery of Rebekkah and Jacob, trying to force God's will (which happens to also be their will) to be done.  But through human deception, rather that trusting God's promise and providence.

Later we see the pain of Isaac, when he realizes what he has done.  He's crushed and heartbroken, and angry.   His wife and son have betrayed him.

Esau is filled with bitterness that turns to hatred,
So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Jacob has to flee for his life.

Rebekkah and Isaac must still live together as husband and wife after this great betrayal.

It all seems so wrong.  And it is, indeed a story filled with the tragedy of sinful decisions.

And yet, in Hebrews 11, in the list of Biblical heroes, Isaac is listed among them. 

On account of faith.  "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."

By faith, through Christ's righteousness, God declares Esau righteous. 

A hero. 

So to with us.  We will always sin.  Our poor decisions will continue to cause pain to ourselves and others.  But we, too are declared heros.  We stand righteous before God, through Christ.

And not only that.  But also, for Christ's sake, God worked it out in the end for Isaac.  Likewise for us.  He manipulates all our human flubs, somehow, and uses them to His glory. 
I can't tell you how those eleven words have brought me comfort throughout the years.  "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."

Raising children can seem like such a great and consuming responsibility.  Especially in today's world.  We parents and families today are indulged.  We have the luxury of mostly not having to wonder where each meal will come from.  We mostly don't wonder how we'll cloth our children or where we'll find shelter each season. 

We have time and luxury to worry about things like diet and health, emotional and physical.  And even spiritual.  And in so worrying, we often take too much on ourselves.  We think we are the only ones who can do this.  It's all on us.

Are we making the right choices.  Are we  providing the best.  Are we giving enough.  Are we giving too much?  Are we setting a good enough example.  Are we strong enoughHow can we read the Bible enoughHow do we give our children good morals without making them self-righteous


But it's not.  Not really.  And in reality, this temporal world is all vanity anyway.  Here today and tomorrow cast into the fire. 

It's not all on us, but God.  His righteousness on us.  That wedding garment that we simply wear.

But how, we wonder, how to do that in daily life?

Focus on the ONE THING NEEDFUL.  Put as much effort and time into the temporal well-being of our families as we can each day.  To the best of our abilities.  With the wisdom and resources at our disposal.
And rest assured, every hour, every minute, in the eternal promises of God.  The knowledge that like Isaac, we will screw up.  But in the end, we'll be a heroes.  Heroes who's only act of heroism is the righteous covering given us by Christ.  That covering which allows God to see us as a heroes.

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