~~There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil….One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” Job 1:1, 13-20
Have you ever felt like Job? At every turn, another tragedy hits your life. It’s as if you can’t catch a break, not even a moment to catch your breath. You feel as if you are treading water, and you are barely keeping your head above water. Life is simply overwhelming, more than you can handle.
Perhaps it’s an unwanted divorce, the pain of adultery, or unemployment. Maybe the bills are piling up and you can’t see how you will ever survive financially. Maybe you or someone you love has received the unwelcome diagnosis. Perhaps you’ve lost someone you love dearly.
Or maybe, just maybe, there’s been an avalanche of all of the above.
Let’s face it: Life. Is. Tough.
The Bible tells us that in this life we will have trouble. We can be certain that we will face dark days, days where we feel as if we might not make it. We will be tested and tried, tossed by the storms of this life.
We can often feel like Job.
So, when life is throwing wave after wave of pain and turmoil, how do we respond?
Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Job 1:8
Job could not be tested without permission from God. In fact, Job was chosen by God to be tested. Why? Because he was a man of complete integrity.
It almost seems like a cruel joke from God, to be chosen to lose everything because you’ve chosen to walk with integrity. But, let’s really stop and think about it.
As I look back over the last six or seven years, I am the first to admit that it has been tough. It’s still hard! But, I can also tell you that I have experienced so much spiritual growth, experienced God in such new and profound ways that I would never trade this experience for anything this world has to offer.
You see, God looked down from heaven and I truly believe that he saw something inside of me, something that told him that I would handle the adversities thrown my way. Even more, God saw something inside of me that told him I would use the trials thrown at me to point the world back to him. He had a purpose behind the pain that he was allowing into my life. That knowledge—the thought that God had chosen me to experience the pain of life—was a trigger that changed the way I thought about my trials. Being chosen by God helped me realize that he had a purpose for my pain.
If you are facing the painful trials of this world, be assured that God has a purpose. Be encouraged that he sees something inside of you that tells him you will allow these trials to do a work in you. Be assured that when he looks at you, he sees one who is willing to let the trials change you, mold you, more into his image so that he can do a profound work through you. Be assured that his plans are to use these devastating circumstances for your good and his glory.
Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. Job 1:20
Job’s immediate response to his trials was to fall to the ground and worship.
When I found out about my husband’s adultery, worship was most definitely not my first response. My first response was to yell, scream, run. I wanted to let God know how angry I was with him, that serving him was obviously overrated. I wanted to hang on to the bitterness that was building in my heart.
And yet, when I finally paused and surrendered… When I finally stopped throwing a pity party and told God that he could have his way… When I finally stopped wallowing in the pit and began to worship… That’s when life began to change. That’s when I began to see the Great I Am show up in my circumstances.
When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Job 2:11
Job was wise enough to surround himself with friends. His friends started out doing the right thing: comforting and consoling him, simply sitting with him because his pain was so great. No words were spoken.
When he and his friends did finally speak, there was a mix of good and bad spoken. Job had his pity party (Job 3). He cursed the day he was born, wondering aloud why he hadn’t just died. Surely that would have been better than the pain he was experiencing!
And that’s when his friends opened their mouths.
Job’s friends meant well, but they were often misguided. They told Job there must be sin in his life, that he simply needed to repent of his sins. But, they failed to realize that God had a plan and that the plan involved walking through pain. They failed to realize that God can do great work in the midst of painful trials.
If you will search eagerly for God, plead with the Almighty. If you are pure and do the right thing, then surely he will become active on your behalf and reward your innocent dwelling. Although your former state was ordinary, your future will be extraordinary (Job 8:5-7).
Eventually, the friends happened upon a truth: God always has a bright future! Bildad informed Job that if he would walk with God, he would have an extraordinary future!
Walking rightly before God does not guarantee us a painless life; but it does guarantee us a future of hope. When we focus our time and energy on knowing God, he is certain to reward us with blessings of his grace and mercy, his love and forgiveness, his peace and guidance. He promises that even though bad things will still happen, he has never and will never leave us nor forsake us. Instead, he will, in his sovereignty, somehow take and weave the ugly, painful trials into a beautiful picture of his redemptive power. He promises to make all things work together for our good.
When we walk through the trials of this life, our ordinary existence will give way to an extraordinary future!
I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. Job 42:5
Toward the end of the book of Job, God engages Job in conversation. He has some corrections for Job, some areas where Job has been at fault. You see, Job was a man of integrity, a man who fell in worship when his life fell apart. And yet, he was not perfect. He did not walk through the trials with perfection; however, he did walk through the trials with a pure heart, earnestly seeking to know God through the storm. And, God rewarded him for having a heart for God.
After walking through the painful days of devastation, Job was able to say that he had truly experienced God for the first time in his life. He went from a head knowledge of God to an intimate relationship with the God of the universe. His view of God, his relationship with God, was forever changed, solidified, made personal.
It was if he had not truly known God before. But, after walking through the trials of this life, Job knew the faithfulness of his God.
So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning… Job 42:12
When our lives fall apart, when we experience extreme loss, it is never the end of the story when we are walking with God. Despite loss and devastation, we can find that the second half of our life is even more blessed than the first.
Because we serve a God who is in the business of redeeming everything we ever experience. Because we serve a God who has the ability to make beauty from ashes. Because we serve a God who can resurrect our lives from the dead.