The word of the Lord came to me:
Son of man, with one blow
I am about to take away from you
the delight of your eyes.
Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears.
Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead.
Keep your turban fastened
and your sandals on your feet;
do not cover the lower part of your face
or eat the customary food of mourners.
So I spoke to the people in the morning,
and in the evening my wife died.
The next morning I did as I had been commanded.
Ezekiel 24: 15-18
Each week, lately, my Sunday School lesson has been in Ezekiel. This week's lesson was the hardest yet.
So many questions:
- But God, Ezekiel has been your faithful messenger. He's the good guy!
- Why would You choose to bring pain into Ezekiel's life when it was all those other people who had sinned against you and not followed or obeyed you?
- What had Ezekiel's wife done? Why take her?
After I submitted in my heart and mind to the sovereignty of God, I then looked at Ezekiel and had some questions about myself:
- Would I have carried out my job before the people having just been told something awful was going to happen to me, not knowing specifically what it was? Would I have been filled with so much worry that I couldn't speak before them?
- After my loss, would I have done as the Lord commanded, or would I have had to take a few days to be angry at God?
- Why me, Lord? What did I do? Are you mad me? Have I not been serving You?
So you will be a sign to them,
and they will know that I am the Lord.
Ezekiel was the example to others of how God's man (or woman) should respond. This isn't a new thing in Scripture. Remember Job...Abraham...Joseph...Daniel...Esther...Jesus?
My husband and I talked about this hard lesson over lunch. I remember saying to him, "I don't WANT to be an Ezekiel." Who does? Who would choose pain and loss and suffering? But I surely don't want to be those other people either. Those who sinned against the Lord, who chose idol worship, who forgot His promises to them, who chose their own destructive way rather than God's perfect will.
So, I want to look at my "blazing furnace," whatever awful, difficult life situation that may be, and say as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said to that pagan king: "The God we serve is able to save us from it...but even if he does not...we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:17-18
And say as Job did: "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." Job 13:15
And realize as Esther did that I have come to this position for such a time as this. Esther 4:14
And declare as Asaph the Levite worship leader did: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26
And say as Jesus did: "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39
And, finally, I want to honor God, be an example and a comfort to others, and say as 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
Notice in the paragraphs above, I said I want to behave a certain way. I know all too well that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. So I paraphrase and pray Philippians 2:13: God,work in me to want and to do according to your good purpose. Amen and Amen.