Coping

Warning: This post may or may not be a tad rabbit-trail-y. I apologize in advance if it’s a little all-over-the place. I had trouble figuring out a logical order for it to go in. *Laughs*

There’s this giant green book that sits on my sister’s shelf (of which I need to get my own copy so I don’t constantly borrow hers [and yes, if someone wanted to buy me a copy as a gift I would be overjoyed {and yes, that was a hint ūüėČ }]) that likes to suck me into its world of fascination. It’s called the American Dictionary of the English Language, and it was written by Noah Webster, published in 1828, if I’m remembering my numbers correctly. I like old Noah Webster. He gives me new perspectives on words I don’t normally give much thought to. Words like “cope”. Some of the definitions are rather weird when compared to how we use the word today. (Which makes it all the more intriguing, at least to my mind.) One of Webster’s definitions for “cope” took me by surprise. It said, “To embrace.” At first I found that rather amusing, simply because that’s so different from how we think of the word. After all, normally when I think of someone coping with a situation I come up with words along the lines of “surviving” or “tolerating” not “embracing.”

But then, I normally think of coping as dealing with negative things or situations. And yet one of Webster’s definitions for “cope” is “To encounter; to interchange kindness or sentiments.” Mind you, I’m still not entirely sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound like coping with something negative to me. It sounds like whoever is coping is coping with something good. Something pleasant. So then I had the thought… What if we’re coping with things all the time, both good and bad? And…if “coping” applies to all things, how does it differ in handling the bad things verses the good ones? Or should it differ at all? What if –¬†what if – coping with hard situations actually involves¬†embracing them?

Now for a couple of verses:

Job 1:20-21 –¬†Then Job arose and¬†tore his¬†robe and¬†shaved his head¬†and fell on the ground and worshiped.¬†And he said,¬†‚ÄúNaked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The¬†Lord¬†gave, and the¬†Lord¬†has taken away;¬†blessed be the name of the¬†Lord.‚ÄĚ

Job 2:9-10 –¬†Then his wife said to him, ‚ÄúDo you still¬†hold fast your integrity?¬†Curse God and die.‚Ä̬†But he said to her, ‚ÄúYou speak as one of the¬†foolish women would speak.¬†Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?‚Ä̬†In all this Job did not¬†sin with his lips.

Okay, some things I notice. In the first passage, Job just received the news that he’s basically lost everything, including all his children – all in one day. Pretty major calamity right there. And yet – he worships God, and blesses His name! I find that pretty incredible that he was able to do that. To “receive evil” (or disaster, as the side-note in my Bible says) from God, as he put it in the second passage.

When I read that yesterday, something clicked and I dug in the giant green dictionary again to see what Webster had to say about the word “embrace”. Here is one of his definitions: “To seize eagerly; to lay hold on; to¬†receive or¬†take with willingness that which is offered.” [Italics mine.] Hey! Wait a minute! Do I spy a connection? The definition says nothing about the perceived quality of the thing being embraced or received or taken willingly. It just says it¬†is. And isn’t that what Job just did in those passages up there? He took it willingly, and blessed God.

Now I have to take a brief side-track. See, for a while now I’ve had this (probably a little weird) belief that bad things don’t happen to good people. Two reasons: 1. We’re all fallen creatures. Thus, there are no “good people” on this earth for “bad things” to happen to. And 2. According to Romans 8:28, God causes all things to work together for good. Therefore, if¬†all things¬†ultimately work for our good, can any one of them really be bad? If God uses¬†all things for good, that kind of puts them all on the same level with each other, rather than on the opposing “good” and “bad” shelves we like to use to categorize them. If God works all things for good, then ultimately everything that comes from God is good, because it’s¬†for our good. Even the hard stuff that we wish we didn’t have to cope with. And if it’s for our good, then we’d be silly not to accept and embrace it.

You’d think. Apparently it’s a lot harder to remember that than it is to write about. (Actually, writing about it is a lot funner too, because I get to dig in huge dictionaries that are dear to my heart.) Me being the habitual stresser and worrier that I am (a bad habit that by God’s grace I am and will continue to break), it’s especially difficult for me to remember to accept what happens sometimes. So here’s a thought that I’ve been rolling around inside my head (hey, there’s too much empty space up there – I had to do something with it! ūüėČ ). Hang on, let me start a new paragraph so it stands out a little more.

God is in control of what happens to me. I am not. Therefore, if I am not in control of my circumstances, they are not my business. They are God’s business. If my circumstances are God’s business and not mine, then what is my business? My business is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. My business has nothing to do with whether or not I like my circumstances, because my circumstances are not my business.¬†Therefore, I should be seeking to glorify God no matter what my circumstances are, and leave my circumstances up to Him.

So how should we cope with something? Well, as I’ve been learning recently, the easiest way to cope with something is to surrender it¬†completely¬†(and that’s the hard part, since I want so badly to help God control it) to God, and trust Him that He knows better than I do what to do with it. Because, after all, whatever happens to me is His business, not mine. And, after all, He sees the big picture and I don’t. And, after all, He works everything out for my good. So, the easiest way to cope with something really is “to embrace” it. Because whatever God gives us will ultimately be much better than anything we could have worked up for ourselves.

Sheesh Calista, you had to take that long to say all that? Well, yes. I suppose I could have taken less time and space to say it, but it wouldn’t have been half so fun without all the definitions and stuff. I love words and their meanings, okay? So cope with it. ūüėČ

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