In the past few months I’ve grown increasingly weary by a series of unmet hopes and regular-life challenges. I recounted to a friend the technical disruptions that began first with this blog, and then the Peregrine website, being hacked; thousands of dollars being defrauded from two accounts (since reimbursed); email turning annoyingly glitchy and then entirely “dark,” disrupted for days.
I also related the hail storm that caused thousands of dollars of damage to our car, the nine weeks of limitless repair delays, followed by an unbelievable claim against us (which we are contesting) for another $1500 hail damage on the rental car after we returned it. I mentioned a few other issues that felt like unfair piling on and he responded, “Wow, when it rains, it hails.”
We all know that feeling: the periodic seasons in our lives when it seems that everything that could go badly, does. We watch friends’ marriages fall distant until they finally divorce in exhaustion; the shocking physical maladies that follow one after another, seemingly at random; financial losses at the hands of others who have no sense of integrity; the slow, gradual passing away of parents; children who suffer teasing or discrimination through no fault of their own.
When does it end? I have felt the sadness, pain and confusion of friends, and have had very little to offer in terms of advice. I’ve recognized that I’ve felt bewilderment, compassion and even agony at their suffering. I’ve also increasingly recognized that I’ve been angry. At God.
Though it may sound dangerous to admit it, I know God is certainly “big enough” to handle my anger. Many of the most honest authors in Scripture have admitted as much. It has felt in some ways like righteous anger, ironically, to feel this way on behalf of others. Increasingly, though, I’ve needed to admit that I’m angry at God, on my behalf, not just on others’.
The challenges I encounter pale in comparison to those of other friends; and they certainly do in comparison to a man like Job in the Old Testament. But rereading his story is revealing to me some important principles. In the book, The Gospel According to Job, author Mike Mason points out that Job’s first response in trial was to worship God. But he did so honestly. Was he filled with some sort of other-worldly peace and joy in the middle of his suffering? “No, not at all. He was as broken and cast down as a man can be.” (p. 35)
Yet he still chose to worship (Job 1:21a). Mason points out that “real worship has less to do with offering sacrifices than with being a sacrifice ourselves.” (p. 36) I’m reminded, yet again, that this world is so horribly broken that we will regularly encounter the disappointments and tragedies life offers to all.
When you and I feel the weight of the world’s brokenness, when it seems that it is not only raining, it’s hailing, remember that our very lives themselves are an offering to God. “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, for this is your spiritual worship.” (Ro. 12:1)
An indication of growing spiritual maturity is the ability to worship in the middle of life’s hailstorms.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.