Sunday, January 10, 2010

Reflections on Tobit

I love the Book of Tobit. It is one I read and re-read over the years.

If you also love this book, then skip my little summary here. If you haven't read this book, I'll provide a little synopsis:

Tobit is a good and kind man. He is married to Anna and he has one son, Tobiah. Tobit is a righteous man, who does what is right without fail and risks his life over and over to do good. Because of his unwavering goodness and faithfulness to God, he has lost everything but his wife and son - he was a prosperous man who has now had everything taken from him by evil leaders as punishment for his tenacity in the serving the Will of God. As the Book opens, Tobit is 62 years old, living in poverty with his wife and only child. He has been struck blind and has just had, basically, the most foul run of luck one can imagine.

The story is also Sarah's story. Sarah is the only daughter of one of Tobit's kinsmen. She is plagued by the demon Asmodeus. She has been married seven times and seven times Asmodeus has killed her husband on their wedding night [as the new husband first "approached her for intercourse"]. [How's THAT for giving a woman a complex? ;) ]

So, the Book of Tobit opens with "Tobit's Prayer for Death" and "Sarah's Prayer for Death" in Chapter 3 - both good, upstanding people who have had really horrible things happen and who are in despair, begging God to let them die.

Instead of letting them both Die, God sends the Archangel Raphael to help them.
[How I love those Archangels! It is no accident that my son is named for one of them!]

Thus follows an excellent story - one in which Raphael comes in disguise to go with Tobiah [the son] to retrieve some money his father left with a relative some distance away. In the course of their adventures, Raphael procures Sarah to become Tobiah's wife [to the great advantage of both families]. Raphael helps Tobiah and Sarah expel the demon Asmodeus and Raphael pursues Asmodeus into the desert and "binds him hand and foot". Leaving Tobiah and Sarah to, presumably, enjoy a very nice wedding night [which they begin with a beautiful prayer to God]. Then Raphael leaves Tobiah with his new in-laws so they can celebrate a 14 day wedding feast while Raphael completes the journey to retrieve the money from Tobit's kinsman. Which he does successfully.

They all return home - Tobiah much wealthier and with a beautiful, beloved new wife. Upon their return, Raphael tells Tobiah how to cure his father's blindness, which Tobiah accomplishes.

Tobiah then offers Raphael half of everything he has gained as payment and in thanks for his help. Raphael refuses, and then reveals who he really is and why God sent him. He departs, instructing Tobiah to Praise God in Everything and to always give Glory to God. [which Tobiah takes to heart!]

The book of Tobit ends much later - Tobit has lived to the happy old age of 112, a wealthy and comfortable old age. He has lived many happy years, watching his son and Sarah live a wonderful life blessed with many children. The final chapter brings us to Tobit's death bed, peacefully surrounded by Tobiah and his seven sons....

It is a beautiful story. I find it a very hopeful story. A reassurance that even though we may face trials in life, trials that may seem never ending and insurmountable at times, God still has good things planned for us. God does not Foresake us, He does not forget us or abandon us.

At the very moment Tobit and Sarah were praying for death, God was sending Raphael to save them.

I look forward to seeing what God has in store for me and my children.

A few months back, I WAS praying for death. I would wake up and think "Maybe a truck will hit me today"... my life felt completely hopeless, I felt completely abandoned by God.

I could not, at that time, imagine that, even this soon afterwards, I would be happy. That my life would be relatively peaceful. That I would find great joy in being able to raise my children without the constant stress and darkness that came from living with my husband. That I would look forward to waking up every day with excitement and joy.

I do, at times, feel plagued by my own personal demon. I do wonder if I don't suffer from "Demonic Oppression" [not the same as "Possession" - Oppression is when you have a demon that basically just follows you around messing with your life - like Asmodeus killing off all of Sarah's husbands just because he could.]

But I feel hopeful that if that IS the case [or even if I'm just extraordinarily unlucky], God will deliver me from this. God has good things planned.

Maybe God will even send Raphael to look after me and my children. ;)

For now, my prayer for my children and I is that God would protect us and provide for us. I pray that God takes us under His wing and protects us from certain persons who seem bent upon our absolute destruction. That He would protect us from extreme poverty and that He would make a way for me to provide for my children.

And I pray that God will grant me a peaceful death, surrounded by my children and grandchildren, ready to go home to Him after a lifetime well lived in His Service. [That "well lived in His Service" part is up to me of course - I'm working on it!!!]

God Bless You!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

God is preparing me for something, and apparently it is going to be something *Really Hard*. Like in the movie "I Am Legend" - where the Hero spends the remaining years of his life fighting really scary monsters and tirelessly seeking the cure to save humanity all by himself, even when it seems completely hopeless... you know, God is getting me ready for something simple along those lines.

That's the only way my Boot Camp of a Life makes any sense at all. ;)

The bar has now been set at a completely new height for "The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done".

I used to think I had done some pretty hard things in my life. Bwahahaha!!

I had NO CLUE how easy those things would seem to me today.

I just came through the absolute worst 3 weeks of my entire life. It started 3 weeks ago with one child throwing up ...

I lived through the worst stomach flu I've ever had; which must have been a norovirus or something because it was 6 days per person and took 12 days to run through the whole family. I took care of 6 very sick kids, including a puking baby, while puking myself, all of us running high fevers and with bodies so achy and painful I thought I'd die....

Then, before the last kid was even completely done with the stomach flu, we were hit with the "Real" flu - Seasonal Flu - and within days 4 of my children and I were desperately ill.

For 7 days I ran a very high fever, I hurt so bad I could barely move - muscles on fire, joints screaming. I coughed until I pulled every muscle in my torso... and while doing this, I cared for 6 children.

I literally cannot remember the last time I got more than a half hour of sleep at a time, or the last time I slept without holding a feverish baby or a toddler.

Man. That really sucked.

Now I am mostly recovered. I'm a little concerned that my cough is turning into pneumonia & a double ear infection, but the high fevers and flu symptoms are subsiding. The two youngest girls are still a bit under the weather with it too, but they also seem to be on the upswing. [It was so bad that New Years Eve I really thought the baby might die - she was so feverish and non-responsive and her eyes were swollen and glazed over - I've never seen a kid look so sick - totally terrifying].

And now I have a new standard for the "Hardest Thing".

But you know what? It also instills in me a great sense of confidence. In much the same way that a difficult unmedicated labor and birth can empower a new mother to feel that she can do *anything* if she was able to get through that challenge, this last challenge has left me pretty confident that I CAN handle whatever crisis may loom in our future. Most things are going to seem like a cake walk after this.

I am becoming a Tough Old Bird in the Lord's Refinery - a Bird Tough enough and Fierce enough to raise 6 kids alone and do it really well.

So, you know, don't mind me. I'm just getting my shotgun loaded for the Zombie Invasion... cause ain't nothing gonna get through me to hurt my babies! ;)

[Oooh - and I simply MUST do a Shout Out to my lovely Uber Children. Stuck at home sick for 3 weeks, no school, Christmas and New Years completely canceled for us, no celebrating.... and you'd think they'd be absolute horrors, right? No way! They were AWESOME! I was so proud of them. Things could have been soooo much worse -but they were all so sweet and kind and helpful and well behaved. Just excellent. And my amazing Monkey1 was a TRUE saving Grace for the family this week because she was extremely helpful to me - helping to take care of me while I took care of the sick baby and toddler and 6yo and 8yo - and doing things like making Mac and Cheese for dinner all by herself when I was literally too delirious with fever to get up and do it myself! I am so truly blessed by these amazingly kids!]

God Bless You!