What’s going on here?

despairThere’s something that has been on my mind for months now, and I am tired of wondering about it, so I think I’m going to do some digging and see what I find. I wonder if you’ll be curious about this too.

Not too long ago, I was working in a department store at the mall–just one of those jobs you take to try to help make ends meet–and there was a scene that happened in the store that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. An older woman came to our counter to purchase some pants that she thought were on sale. When they did not ring up at the price she expected, she took the clerk over to the sign with the sale price. The clerk pointed out that the sign referred to some jeans that were on the same rack, not the cotton pants that the woman wanted, and so she politely refused to sell the pants at the lower price. I cannot fault my co-worker (much) for what followed, because she handled the situation as she had been trained to do. The old woman was more than upset, she was distraught. She made a bit of an angry scene at the counter, but then, as she was walking out of the store, she began wailing. WAILING! She could be heard all over the store. She grabbed her chest and nearly collapsed on the jewelry counter. On lookers thought she was having a stroke or a heart attack. The jewelry attendant almost called 911. Now, she may have really needed some pants, and she was probably on a fixed-income, as nearly all retirees are. So, it makes sense that the situation would have upset her. But the degree of her reaction is mind-boggling! Talk about over-reaction.

Yet, in the moment, it was clear to me that her response was totally genuine. She was so beat-down by something in her life that to have a disagreement with a sales-clerk over the price of some pants was heart-wrenchingly painful for her.

If I want to be truly honest, I have to admit that the hurts and challenges of recent years have made me, at times, almost as vulnerable. Yet, why should that be so? I have walked with Jesus for decades. Surely in that time I have grown and matured, both emotionally and spiritually. Why should I be standing in a place of so much defeat? When I think of my friends, some immediately come to mind as being in a similar state of vulnerability, and some do not. Some who have been strong and resilient in the past have become weaker. Why?

It makes me wonder how much of the authority, strength and power that Christ offers us, we abdicate. We focus a lot on the redemption and salvation that is offered to us through Christ. But isn’t there more? I’m plenty grateful that I’ll get to spend eternity in heaven, thanks to Jesus, don’t get me wrong. But so much of his ministry had to do with the immediate lives of the people he met, not just their eternal salvation.

There are a lot of factors to consider, and I haven’t even begun to touch on them here. I’m challenging myself (and I think God may be challenging me too) to examine this and see what so many of us might be missing, or perhaps forgetting.

I encourage your thoughts and comments as I progress on this project. Have you seen or experienced something like this? What happened? Did the situation get turned over to God? Did you get to see Him work on a person/situation?

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