He knows me
I’m sure you have heard, and probably uttered these phrases: this is killing me! Or, this is going to be the death of me! Most times we don’t mean it literally. It’s more of an expression of exasperation as in- I exercised for the first time in 20 years and can’t move my legs- it’s killing me! Or, this kid is wearing me out and will be the death of me. Sometimes we feel that situations may just kill us, like we won’t make out to the other side. Honestly, at times I’ve felt like maybe God is trying to kill me. Probably not, but it has sure seemed that way.
We’ve probably all gotten ourselves into a bad situations. Totally and completely our fault. We throw ourselves on the mercy of God. We may have to face consequences and it may hurt for a bit. In other words, we know we got ourselves into trouble and understand that we have to face the music.
But it feels a little different when those consequences seem never ending or we face a situation where we did nothing wrong or worse, did all the right things. If we are “guilty”, it’s easier to accept our discipline. But if we are “innocent”, it doesn’t seem fair that we face difficulty. This assaults our sense of justice and doesn’t feel fair. In these times, we can struggle with understanding God’s motives for allowing such difficulty. Faith can take a beating when we are stuck in times of great difficulty that do not seem to have an end. How can we hold on to our relationship with God when it seems that we might not survive what he seems to be allowing in our lives.
There’s an obscure passage in Isaiah that I have held onto for dear life. It’s a bit difficult to grasp because our society isn’t based on agriculture as in Isaiah’s time but it’s worth exploring.
Isaiah 28: 23-29 NLT
Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting?
Does he not finally plant his seeds- black cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat? Each in its proper place. The farmer knows what to do for God has given him understanding.
A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin. Rather, it is beaten with a light stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin. Instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail. Grain for bread is easily crushed so he doesn’t keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart but he doesn’t pulverize it.
The Lord of Heaven’s Army is a wonderful teacher and gives the farmer great wisdom.
Basically, this passage says that the farmer knows what he’s doing with his crops because God gives him wisdom. What would kill one plant will make another thrive. The farmer doesn’t use his heaviest instrument on a fragile plant because it would be crushed. He doesn’t use the most dainty instrument he has on a hearty plant, as that would have no effect. What would bring life to one plant would kill another. He knows what tool to use with what plant. I hope the meaning is becoming a bit clearer because this passage is one to hold onto! If God cares enough to give the farmer wisdom with planting, doesn’t it follow that he will use this same wisdom in dealing with us?
Humans have different personalities, bents, interests, life experiences and back stories. Ten people can have ten different reactions to the same situation because we view from different lenses. Words that would devastate one person could motivate another to do better. Actions that could wound and crush one person may have no effect on someone else. And God knows this.
So how does this help us understand God’s purpose in our circumstances? For me, I can absolutely stand on the knowledge that God knows me personally and intimately. He knows my strengths, weaknesses, fears, what I can withstand and what would crush me. He takes all of these factors into account when he deals with me. He knows my personality, how I react to situation, what will make me freak out and what I can handle. He knows when to push me beyond my comfort level, when something is beneficial for me (even if I don’t like it) and when something would be too much for me. I can trust that when I am experiencing something, either scary bad or scary good, God will not use too much pressure and crack me. He knows the exact amount I can handle before I crack.
Years ago when my three kids were really small, I was caring for my mom who had cancer. She seemed to be nearing the end of her battle and since I was the only child, everything fell to me. She insisted that she didn’t want to go to a “home” and there was no other option but for her to live with me. At that time, I was in a pretty small house. She was too weak to do stairs, plus she needed to be close to a restroom. There was only one place in the house that would work- the living room. I have always said that I am not in the medical field for a reason! I don’t do well with the physical aspects of medicine and all that comes with it. To say that taking care of my mom plus my kids was hard was an understatement. That was also the time that I learned that pain has a voice, but that’s a whole other subject.
I was being stretched beyond what I was comfortable with and thought I was close to breaking. My greatest fear though, was that my mom would pass away in my living room and my kids would find her that way. I know myself well and knew that if she did die in my house I would not be able to continue living there. The thought of this was genuinely traumatizing to me. When I shared this with a family member, the response was- well she is either in the chair or in the bathroom so it’s going to be one or the other when it happens. There is nowhere else. I simply begged God for another option.
One day soon after my oldest came down with strep throat. I had to keep him segregated upstairs while stilling taking care of the other two (one who was a toddler) and my mom. The hospice nurse came that day and could see that I was struggling. She told me that hospice had a respite for caregivers and in no uncertain terms told me that I was going to use it. This meant that mom could go into a local nursing home for up to two weeks at no charge. She told mom that she had to go because she couldn’t afford to catch strep from my son. Of course, mom resisted strongly but the nurse won out. She made arrangements for an ambulance to transport mom to a nursing home that very day. I went to visit her that evening. She wasn’t happy but did say she understood. I stayed a while and left when she was worn out. A few hours later I received a call saying that she had passed peacefully in her sleep.
God, who knew me so well, allowed a negative event- strep throat- to be a doorway to spare me from something he knew I could not handle. I will be forever thankful for this.
Having my mother pass away in my living room was something that I certainly didn’t want. But what about those things that we desperately do want? Again, he knows us. Honestly, it is with a heavy sigh that I write that sentence. I, much like most of us, desperately want something right now. But God doesn’t seem to be agreeing with me in it. He knows us personally. He knows whether something will give us life, or actually kill us. With another sigh, I can say I am thankful for this.
Sweet friend, he knows you too. He knows what methods to use when dealing with you. When to push, when to stop, when to plant and when to harvest in your life. Rest in that thought today.