"Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox." Prov. 14:4
When you read this verse what do you think about? I think about things that I have in my life that have much strength. Things that bring tremendous benefit to my life. But when you own an ox, does your life change? It absolutely does. It needs to be fed, cared for and it may just even mess up his stall everyday! If you have a perfectly clean beautiful red barn, as picturesque as can be, and it has nothing in it, what good does it do you? Does it bring you any benefit? No! There will be sacrifices and frustrations when you extend yourself to allow other things or people into your life. But it will also grow you in unbelievable ways and give you strength and capability you could never possess on your own.
I don't know if you have guessed it by now, but in my mind many times my "ox" is my husband. He brings inexplicable strength and stability to my life. He provides for me on a daily basis physically, emotionally and spiritually. But did you know my amazing husband isn't completely perfect! And, shhh...... I'm not either! And you better sit down for this.....there are times when I even get frustrated with some of those small imperfections.
Like every person or thing in your life, if you allow yourself you can get side tracked by menial frustrations and imperfections. Have you ever found yourself focusing on someone's faults more than their strengths? Have you ever heard yourself complaining about your beloved "ox" (husband, child, pastor, etc.) more than you praise them? Sometimes it takes being shocked by something devastating to realize how trivial your complaints may be and to remind you that you are blessed to have an "ox" in your life.
Recently, I found myself in that very place. I had found a menial thing to get frustrated with and I was in my pouty pants! Then walks in a young girl similar to my age, who has 3 young children. My friend introduces me to this young mom and tells me how she and her children our now living in the area. It was one of those awkward moments, when little was said but much was heard. In those brief moments, I knew I was meeting a woman who was alone and had seen suffering. She was raising 3 children on her own and no longer had her mate standing by her side to battle everything that comes her way. My heart broke.
I can't express the feeling I feel when I meet young moms whose life had been ripped to shreds by broken marriages. Who are alone bearing the burdens of parenthood all on their own. Whose dreams have been shattered but they must wake up everyday and pick up the pieces and carry on for the bundles of joy God gave them to care for. I want to hug them, cry for them, squeeze them, pray for them and love them to pieces.
Then I thought about my petty, stupid problems I was in a snit about. How ridiculous they sounded. How unthankful I sounded! And this verse rushed into my mind. Yes my "ox" comes with challenges and sometimes believe it or not, annoyances! But anything that brings strength and profit to your life will. If your ever wondering if it would be nice to not have to deal with all those little annoyances sometime, all it takes is one look at someone who has had it ripped away from them to know the answer.
So when your frustrated and upset because the dishwasher wasn't organized properly, or the pool toys were left all over the yard, or the whites were mixed with the colors, or your day didn't go as planned, stop! Stop and think about those whose marriages have been broken beyond repair and are living on their own, think about those who have lost someone to sickness and who have died too young, think about that parent whose precious child didn't make it to adulthood. If your like me, just a glance at this will remind you that your "ox", though they may come with inconveniences and hassles at times fill your life with joy and strength you would never want to dream of living without.
So, let's not get to pouty over the small things. Let's take the time to praise those we love and embrace every moment we can with them. Let's love around the faults just like we would hope they would for us.
It's worth it!