The Pruning Shears

tree-pruning-300x199I’ve been experiencing serious resistance in every area of my life lately. It doesn’t seem possible that it is coincidence. The opposition has been fierce. Several recent events have seemed to violate the laws of physics and the statuary tables. Some days I shake my head and think, “This can’t be happening,” but it is.

The believer facing an uphill battle should consider that, aside from life’s equal-opportunity thrashings, God also permits demonic harassment in the lives of His children. However, He also puts protective limits in place. The key is to remember that these things are tests. They aren’t random events, and it doesn’t pay to look at them as instances of misfortune. Pain, bereavement and mishaps of all sizes can be productive if we trust that God is accomplishing good things in our lives with them.

The thing is that I know all this, but what I’m going through is so painful that I’m having difficulty maintaining a proper attitude. I know I’m supposed to pray and hold on, but I’m going through a mid-life crisis on steroids. All my efforts in life seem to be coming to nothing. It’s almost impossible not to doubt the value of my life and the significance of my existence in the world. I wonder if anything important is happening as a result of my prayers and my acknowledgement of God in my daily affairs.

the-palazzo-resort-hotelI know the world is empty. I’ve completely given up on it. It’s full of sorrow and sham and bursting with meaningless garbage. Most of its inhabitants don’t even know I exist. All its wares are cheap and unsatisfying. It’s like a Wal-Mart where you pay top dollar. So I don’t have any illusions about finding what I want in the world. If my life doesn’t amount to anything in the spiritual realm, then it might as well be over. If I were to walk away from God, the next step would be to jump out a window. That is the degree to which I have separated myself from the world in my imagination.

I wonder if maybe all this is proceeding as it should. Perhaps I’m being pruned here. Everything I touch falls apart; do I keep saying my prayers and going after Jesus anyway? Maybe this is God teaching me to invest in Him and stop evaluating my life based on temporal benchmarks. It could be that all the things I’ve been pursuing are a waste of time from God’s perspective. If I have really given my life to Him, I suppose I have to let Him worry about the value of what is actually getting accomplished. It looks like a disaster to me, but it’s not really my life anymore.

OK, God. Do whatever you want.

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About Douglas Abbott

I am a freelance writer by trade, philosopher and comedian by accident of birth. I am an assiduous observer of humanity and endlessly fascinated with people, the common elements that make us human, what motivates people and the fingerprint of God in all of us. I enjoy exploring the universe in my search for meaning, beauty and friendship. My writing is an extension of all these things and something I did for fun long before I ever got paid. My hope is that the reader will find in this portfolio a pleasing and inspiring literary hodgepodge. Good reading!
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6 Responses to The Pruning Shears

  1. Robin says:

    To him that waits all things reveal themselves, provided that he has the courage not to deny, in the darkness, what he has seen in the light.
    Coventry Patmore
    Keep the faith. Things will turn around.

  2. Don says:

    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/npo/2400689331.html
    Check out Ray Noah’s blog. He is pastor of Portland Christian Center. He speaks to this a little.

  3. Don says:

    Doug, I know just where you are. I think two things could be happening here.

    One: When Jairus came to Jesus because his daughter was at the point of death, he had hope that Jesus would cure her. We have hopes and prayers out there that God will make things better for us. However, in the process of walking with Jesus toward his home so he could help his daughter, word came that it was too late, his worst fears had come true, his daughter was dead. They even said, do not bother the Master further. In other words, you can dismiss Jesus now and stop walking with him toward home, he cannot help you now. But Jesus, overhearing this said, “Do not be afraid, only believe.” So Jairus continued to walk with Jesus, but I know the sorrow he felt as he did. I wonder if he had any hope and if really did simply “believe.” But what choice did he have. Like the disciples said to Jesus once, “where else can we go, you have the words of eternal life.”

    Two: As a person who has suffered from depression myself, I know that we types are prone to not be able to see the sun shining, while a person right next to us can. My wife is like that – never a day of depression or doubt in her life. How does she do that? My friend and my brother – my heart goes out to you and my prayers go up for you – but I have found that I personally need a little more than hope or even faith at times. I have learned to do several things, and I know you have done a lot to get yourself into better places, but you might consider what I say and see if there is anything there for you to use. It has helped me.

    • Don says:

      1. I make a regular appointment to meet with people, counselors, to share my heart and my pain with. Pain kept in only festers. The light brought into the darkness of my life helps me to dispel it. My faith is nourished by talking to compassionate people who can help shoulder the burdens of my life. That is scriptural too.

      2. I try to eat and exercise a little to offset bad moods. I have learned what works best. There are a lot of physical components to depression, and Christian or not, they are there and we must learn ways to compensate.

      3. I got a hold of a great program called, Attacking Anxiety and Depression. It has 12 cd’s each addressing a different aspect of the kind of thinking that brings a person down. My fave was the one on changing our thoughts. It leads a person to identify every thought, to take it captive, and then to replace it with a more positive and true thought. I discovered that just the practice of identifying a negative thought and convincing myself it is not true, and denying it further access, turned me around 180 degrees. It was not easy at first, but after about six months of listening to these cd’s, I started to get it I am not saying all is well. I still have to maintain these practices to stay out of the pit, but I do not go down that dark path like I used to.

      4. Do not assume that God is going to do some miracle to heal your mind and emotions without you doing your part. A man born with only one arm once commented that he stopped expecting for God go grow him one and started to understand how to live with the disability. He found joy in his weakness when he started to accept that this is the way it was. He allowed the disability to limit him for years, but then began to see it as a blessing. Wow! He was actually rejoicing in his “trial” and did not see it as a trial anymore, and learned to do so many things he no longer saw it as a disability. Take steps to be in charge and pro-active.

      5. It is not a sin to seek help from the medical, nutritional, psychological community. I think God has given us much in the way of help from new discoveries in technology. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and science only discovers how wonderfully. Use them as crutches until faith grows enough that maybe we don’t always need them.

      Love you brother. I am addressing the message behind the content of your musing.

      Your writing is getting even better. This last one was superb in style and prose. It really grabbed my heart.

  4. Douglas Abbott says:

    Thank you, friends, for your faithful visits to the Muse, and for your encouragements. Thank you for taking the time to make comments, turning this from a soliloquy into a dialogue.

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