At the beginning of January I decided to read through the entire Bible in a year. The plan I’m following goes in chronological order, and so we just finished up the book of Job. I was reminded why this is one of my favorite books in all of Scripture. Job is an example of how to handle trials in life when everything feels too much to bear. He lost everything – and I mean everything: his family, land, possessions, home, health – and his reputation. How did he handle his distress? The first thing he did was acknowledge that “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the Name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).
I first studied Job in 2013, during what I would come to refer to as my ‘Year of Devastation’. The wisdom and the truths gleaned through Job’s affliction and unbelievable suffering brought me much comfort, help and encouragement (yes, you heard me correctly). At the time I had no idea how it prepared me for what was to come: years of trauma, darkness and despair. The storm waves of life began to crash down upon me one by one. They came forcefully and frequently, pushing me beneath the surface. Whenever I was able to rise above to catch a breath, another would come and knock me down again.
Like Job, I cried out constantly to God in desperation for all that afflicted me. I had little emotional and spiritual strength, yet determined myself to never let go of the promises of God’s Word. They literally fed my battered soul for days on end. Several years later I vividly recall Jesus showing me how He’d been behind me the whole time – holding me up that I might survive the oncoming waves. How sobering to recognize that He did not keep me FROM the storm, but provided me strength as I went THROUGH it.
Job questioned over and over why bad things happened to him. Although that was not wrong to do, the expectation that God should answer him was. He discovered the sovereignty of his Creator, yet never received the answers he sought. The story of Job models for us how to walk – and grow – in faith as we suffer. The reality is that we may never get the answers to our questions and need to know. Instead of turning away in anger and bitterness we can turn toward Jesus, express what we are feeling, and keep our gaze on Him through any challenge. As we humbly recognize Who He is, we remember more of who we are. When we acknowledge that trials will come, we are better prepared to face them when they do. When we reach a place of acceptance, we spend our energy on how we can respond instead of resist. It’s in His mercy that we receive strength in the storms, comfort for our souls, and hope for the future.
- How might Job’s story of suffering be a help in whatever you are facing?
- What expectations of God do you hold that may need to change?
Photo by stein egil liland