Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Just pawns in a Chess Game?

Chess is a strategist's game.  And it is not for the impatient.  It can be extremely boring.  However, it is a game that can be applied to our daily lives.

Not everyone knows the basics of chess, so allow me to explain.  I promise to make this as painless as possible...please bear with me.  CHESS 101:
1.  Respect the King and protect him.  If your opponent attacks your King, you must defend him.
2.  Use your other pieces (Queen, Bishops, Knights, Rooks, and pawns) to defend your own King.
3.  Use your other pieces (Queen, Bishops, Knights, Rooks, and pawns) to attack your opponent's King.
4.  Queens (omni-directional), Bishops (diagonal direction), and Rooks (horizontal direction) can move an unlimited amount of spaces each turn in their respective direction. 
5.  The Knight is special in that he move 3 spaces each turn in an L shape.
6.  The lowliest pieces in a Chess game are the pawns.  They are the least ornate pieces and can only move one space at a time. 

These rules will not make you the next Bobby Fisher.  But they will give you an understanding of what I'm about to say.

I feel very much like a pawn lately.  Very vulnerable.  Defenseless.  I can only take one step at a time.  Everyone else seems more capable and much more powerful than me.  Inept is a good word to describe my emotion.

Everything happens for a reason, though.  I recently bought a new Bible (on Sunday).  And began reading in Job, because I can relate to his story.  How appropriate!  Check this out...this is an article in the footnotes of the Job 1:13-19:

"Are people just pawns in God's chess game?
     It often seems that people are caught in events beyond their control, manipulated by God or Satan.  They may feel forced into situations they would not choose if they were given a chance.  While this seems unfair, there is another way - a higher way - to interpret the circumstances of life.  We can see them as God-given opportunities to cooperate with his purpose and plans and, by serving him, to fulfill something far more significant than our own schemes ever could.  We are MORE than pawns in a chess game.  We can honor Almighty God by the way we live and die.
     Still, many unanswered questions remain.  Only God knows why dozens of bystanders had to die in this unfolding drama [Job's tests from Satan in which all of his livestock, servants, children were slain] between Satan and God.  We struggle with the fact that ["good" people] have short, tragic lives while other who are wicked enjoy wealth and long life.  One thing we can affirm, however:  What seems unfair in this life will be made right in eternity.  Our problems will be resolved and many of our questions answered.
     God has permitted Satan certain freedoms.  He is called the prince of this world (John 14:30) and the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Ephesians 2:2).  Satan can sometimes use the forces of nature, sickness, plagues and wicked people.  Though God dealt a fatal blow to Satan through Jesus' death and resurrection, Satan continues to struggle against God, and will do so until the end (Romans 16:20). 
     There are two sides to the suffering of the righteoous:  the earthly and the heavenly.  The apostle Paul [of the New Testament] understood the tension of living in a corrupt world as one controlled by the Spirit.  He placed his trust in God and things eternal - God's justice, mercy and love - not in the temporary things of this world - success, wealth and fame.  Paul recognized that our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12) and took courage in knowing that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20)."

I thought this article was pretty cool and strikingly well placed in front of me.  I thought, "heh!  I am MORE than just a pawn.  Sweet!!"  But I wasn't content with this alone.  I kept reading.

As I read Job 2-3, I thanked God that I was so much better off than Job as I do not have any physical sores, disfigurements, parasites, skin infections, hallucinations, or a fever.

I do have sharp pains and shortness of breath...but this is normal, I think.

I do, however, feel as Job did.  I question my existence.  I struggle with why God gave me life:  "Why did He decide to give Caroline a fatal condition?  Why can't I take it from her and thus give her life instead of me??  Why do I think like this?  Will people think I'm suicidal?  Oh, geez...what will my military supervisors think when they see that I'm thinking this way?  Great!  I'll have to see a shrink, now.  I'll probably lose my security clearance.  Everyone's going to think I'm weird and can't handle my job anymore.  This is definitely not what I need!" 

Then, I stumbled upon another editorial note in my new Bible (again...everything happens for a thankful I bought a new Bible!!).  The editor asks the questions, "Is no life better than a troubled life?  Was Job suicidal?"

Hmmm...thanks read my mind! 

He says, "In [Job's] misery, [he] might have thought [no life was better than a troubled life].  But the Bible's message throughout is that life - all life - is a gift from God.  Even in terrible suffering, God's glory can be revealed.  In the midst of Job's unspeakable losses and his physical pain, he said that he longed for death.  But he was not planning to take his own life.  He was in mourning and expressing his deep sorrow that made life seem unbearable." 

Awesome!  I'm safe!!  I'm normal!!  I'm just grieving the very realistic potential of losing my one and only baby girl.  JUST grieving.  That's all.

Initially, I did not ask, "why me, Lord?"  But, now....I can not tell you how many times I have begged the question, "what have I done to deserve this??"  There are plenty of people out there that deserve this more than mee.  I'm faithful to my wife.  I am faithful to my church.  I tith 10% of my pay every paycheck.  I read my Bible.  I pray.  I don't do drugs.  I'm a good guy.  I'm better than this!!  ....Right???

Then, the Lord said, "There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" - Romans 3:23 (NIV). 


So, apparently, I'm NOT special.  God loves me just as much as He loves everyone else.  And my sins are no greater, or lesser, than anyone else's.  I am not righteous.  I am undeserving of life.  And I am as just as deserving of going through this pain as anyone.

But suffering is not necessarily beneficial.  Dwelling on your suffering is definitely not beneficial.  Those who wallow in their suffering never gain any benefits or achieve a higher perspective.  But those who make a conscious decision to focus instead on what God can do THROUGH their suffering will be strengthened!!  Tap into God's resources.  Allow him to turn something negative into something positive and life-changing.

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us" - Romans 5:1-5 (NIV).

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express!" -Romans 8:26 (NIV).   

We are not just pawns.  We are the King's children, heirs to His throne!!

1 comment:

  1. So glad you got the new Bible. There are times in our lives when God just puts His word to us right under our noses. Isn't it great that He wants to talk to us?!!! God is using this time with Caroline to allow you and Emily to grow in His grace and love. We keep you bathed in prayer.
    Aunt Sherie


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