Eating Ashes

I’ve been feeling a bit like Job lately.

You might remember Job, described in the Old Testament as a man in the land of Uz who was blameless and upright, one who feared God and shunned evil. Job 1:1

And while I certainly don’t consider myself blameless nor in any way upright, tryasImight, what happens to Job – the complete collapse of everything he holds dear – feels a little too personal.

It started, I think, back in September when I broke my thumb and foot on a slow jog back to the car after a hike.

Recovery brought me to the end of myself; I managed to score a knee scooter from our athletic trainer to buzz around campus, but I was steeped in the grief of all-the-things-I-could-not-do.

Everything took longer. I had to drive to campus every morning, less than a quarter mile away, and I missed the bright walk up the hill to school when I would invite God into my day and complement Him on all the beautiful things around me that He had made.

Confused, I even questioned what He thought He was doing; did He not want to spend time with me? Was He too busy talking to His other children? I became petulant, self-pitying.

But, like Job – who lost his possessions, his servants, his health, and his children, whose wife tells him to “Curse God and die,” (Job 2:9) whose three “friends” try to “help” him figure out what he has done wrong to deserve his fate – like him, things continued to implode on me.

Half the electricity in my non-campus house went off after a storm, and it cost me dearly to get it fixed.

My car stopped working intermittently, which is the worst kind of not-working. I was supposed to chaperone some of our boys at the airport before break, and the car refused to start at 5 AM when I was to leave for Logan. Luckily, my trusted Administrator on Duty found some cables and gave me the needed jump, but the stress of that morning ruined what was usually a joyful experience of getting our students safely on their way home for Thanksgiving.

On the way out, the parking meter refused to print me the receipt I needed to submit for reimbursement.

I started hiking again after the injuries, but a trekking pole broke. Next, I awoke one morning in unbelievable pain. My back had apparently rebelled at the months of being off balance with crutches and boot; my newly salvaged freedom was once again curtailed, forcing me to count the hours before I could take the meds that would bring relief. Compelled to stand all day because it hurt too much to sit, I was exhausted by day’s end; unable to lie down comfortably, I lost precious sleep and became grumpy, unkind to others.

What had I done wrong, God?

In the meantime, one son faced multiple health adversities and the other one setbacks in his new job. My computer crashed. Weight I had lost during the scooter days crept back on as solace was sought in unhealthy choices.

What had I done wrong, God?

Turning to The Book for insight, I light on Psalm 102: “A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord.”

Good start.

I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins. I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears. Psalm 102: 6

Okay. Progress. To lament is to truth-tell. To remind God of where you’re at.

Why not invite Him in?

Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. Psalm 102:2

Who IS He, exactly, that I should?

You, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. Psalm 102: 12, 25

I’ve been up high. Seen those heavens, looked down on those foundations. If my petty problems and pains seem small to me, up there, imagine how they appear to HIM.

Like Job, I needed to be reminded of God’s power, majesty, and compassion, His utter trustworthy nature and divine ability to know and direct and allow. I needed to remember all the ways He had led me in the past, in dark days devoid of light, through the valley and out the other side.

Could you give me another chance, God? I cautiously prayed. Something low stakes, perhaps, where I can try again to look at YOU and not the complaint?

It was not a prayer I wanted answered.

And yet – to be teachable is to believe that there was a lesson in it all. One I should want to learn.

Like Job, I don’t understand, but I’ve tried to shut my mouth and open my ears, to listen to what He might have to say.

Someday, the ruins will be restored. There will be an exchange:

Beauty for ashes.

Joy for mourning.

Praise, not despair. Isaiah 61:3

So we wait for the second adventus, when He will come as promised, just as He did, as promised before.

Author: walkwithme413

Jesus-lover. Hiker. Mother. Friend.

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