Monday, October 1, 2018

It is...but is it?

It is…but is it? (submitted by Kerry Patton)
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.   I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:12-13 NIV
…as defined by Merriam-Webster reads: “Feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.”  I think this definition works very well with the statement of the Apostle Paul from Philippians 4:12-13 above.  Paul had endured seasons of famine as well as seasons of feast.  It was through those very polarized opposites that he came to realize that contentment was not rooted in having plenty over having nothing, but in coming to understand that God would provide for him and carry him through whatever it was that he had to face.  Similar confidence is shown in the letter to the Romans, chapter 8:38-39:
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
No matter what…I am going to be okay because of the provision and love of my Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ.  Perhaps Job took this to a faith-filled extreme when he stated in Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him…” Essentially, no matter what comes to pass…even if it is my death, I am going to be okay because I am in the hands of the Lord my God.  Contentment.
It is what it is…  
“It is what it is…” I hear people say this all the time.  Maybe you say it too.  I certainly don’t want to offend if you do.  I’m not attacking people who say it, but I am expressing my confusion about the saying.  Maybe you can explain it to me sometime.  The saying always seems to come in the light of hardship, suffering, loss, or conflict: 
“Bob! I just heard, and I can’t believe you have cancer!  How are you doing?” “Well, it is what it is…” or
“Karen! Oh my gosh, how are you doing? Emma was just telling me that you lost your job.  How are you and the kids?”  “What can I say? It is what it is…” or
“Geez Mike, you look terrible!  Are you okay?” “Aagghh…Emily and I just had a huge fight.  I think she may be seeing someone else.” “I’m so sorry Mike. What can I do?” “Nothing, I guess.  I mean…It is what it is.  If she doesn’t break it off, I guess we’ll divorce.  I can’t believe this!”
In each of these examples, I struggle to see contentment as much as I see a sense of helpless resignation.  “It is what it is…I can’t change it.  I’m just a passenger here.  It seems pretty hopeless.  Maybe it isn’t.  I dunno.  Time will tell I suppose.” 
Maybe I’m the eternal optimist who just needs to step back and take a reality check.  Maybe so.  However, for me – ‘It is what it is’ is not a statement made from a position of faith filled contentment – as in: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…”, but one of resignation.  “I can’t change this.  I’m probably doomed, but oh well…”
I don’t mean to be argumentative here…and I certainly don’t want to lose my reader by stepping on a commonly used phrase.  Here is my thinking on ‘It is what it is’:  I believe the answer of faith to ‘It is what it is’…is – I AM.  No, not I – Kerry Patton am, but Jehovah God, who is the Great - I AM.  He is – I AM.
To the children of Israel, who had been enslaved in Egypt for hundreds of years, ‘It is what it is’ seems like a pretty accurate description of their situation.  However, to their reality, Jehovah God sent his credentials: I AM. Through a stuttering fugitive of Egyptian justice, a fallen prince of Egypt, Moses stood before the Pharaoh holding a shepherd’s staff and said: “I AM has sent me.  Let my people go.” It was no quick and easy exit, but history records how Israel’s ‘It is what it is’ eventually became ‘It is no longer what it was…” and they walked free away from Egypt’s grip.
So, my encouragement to you is that the next time you feel compelled to express ‘It is what it is’, take a moment to consider what God may be about to do to change about that situation.  How does faith impact my circumstances?  What impact might the unfailing love and limitless power of an Almighty and Righteous God have on ‘It is what it is’?  Perhaps… ‘It is…isn’t what it seems.’

Almighty God and Father of us all.  How many times in my life do I take my eyes off of you and place them on the waves of my circumstances?  I become so captivated by ‘what is’ that I lose sight of the Great I AM.  I thank you for giving me an intelligent mind Father, I am thankful for being able to analyze a situation for what it is and act.  But keep me heavenly minded.  Help me to always look at this life through the lens of faith – through your ability, rather than my own inability.  In Christ Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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