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…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.”
Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence. Job 1:1, 8-12
And then Job lost everything. He lost his sheep. He lost his oxen and his donkeys. He lost his servants. He lost his children. Everything of value was stripped from him.
Simply because he was a man of integrity, a blameless man who fears God.
Why would God allow it? In the end, Job had this to say…
I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. Job 42:5
In the midst of the pain and suffering, Job came to know God in a new way. He saw God’s faithfulness, His tender mercies, His love. He understood God in ways he never could have without walking through the trials of this life.
Job wasn’t the only biblical character who suffered despite his righteousness. Consider the man born blind…
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. John 9:1-3
Here was a man, blind from birth, having never been able to see the beautiful creation of God’s earth. Immediately, the disciples jumped to the conclusion this man or his family must have sinned, bringing this condemnation upon himself.
Jesus’ reply? No one sinned. This illness is for God’s glory.
Scriptures are filled with stories of righteous men and women suffering, not because of a bad decision but because God allowed it to bring Him glory, to build faith in the one suffering, to sanctify and draw people closer to Him.
Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, the one through whom the promises of God were to come.
Moses was banished from the land, forced to live in the wilderness.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, wrongfully imprisoned.
Daniel’s only fault was his refusal to bow to the gods, his steadfast faithfulness to the God of Israel.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace because of their devotion to God.
Stephen was stoned to death.
Paul was shipwrecked multiple times, stoned and left for dead.
All through the scriptures we see stories of God allowing pain and suffering, incredible trials, in the lives of His faithful servants.
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 2 Corinthians 4:17
I know as well as anyone that our sufferings don’t always seem light and momentary. But, when we face them God’s way, He always uses them to mold us into His image.
Does that mean that we walk through the pain perfectly? Absolutely not! I know the last month or so has been excruciating for me, and I’ve lost my focus. Does that make me less of a Christian? Does that mean I made a mistake in marrying my husband as some have suggested? Does that mean I have some sin in my life?
Absolutely not! It means that I am a human, a human who loves God but sometimes gets caught in the trials of this life. A human who sometimes becomes overwhelmed by the pain in this fallen world. A human who is daily on a mission to grow closer to God but sometimes gets distracted from the faithfulness of my Savior.
One thing we are promised in this human existence is pain. But the beauty of the Christian life is even in our pain, we have a promise of healing and hope. It’s a cycle of hurt, healing, hope.
“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” Hosea 6:1-3
Don’t you see it?
Hurt: He has torn us to pieces…He has injured us.
Healing: Heal us…Bandage our wounds.
Hope: He will restore us…We may live in his presence…He will respond to us.
Over and over in this human existence, it happens. Hurt…incredible excruciating pain presenting itself in many kinds of circumstances. Healing…we continue to seek Him and we find His goodness and grace. Hope…He restores our lives and puts us back together again.
The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. 1 Peter 5:10
Our hope is in the person of Jesus Christ, His finished work on the cross. Our hope is in God’s promises that He is working all things for good for those who love Him. Our hope is on the promise that says He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Our hope is in heaven, a place where there will be no more pain or suffering.
Our hope is eternal.
Maybe like me, you’ve been in the fire. Maybe like me, you’ve lost your focus on the eternal hope. Maybe like me, you continue to try, to persevere, to trust God even as you are overwhelmed by the pain of this life.
Do not grow weary. Even in the hurt, His healing and His hope stand taller and shine brighter. He will carry us all through.
Father, it’s been a tough season. I thank you for the many examples you have given us of your faithful ones walking through the pain of this life, even when it was unfair and unexpected and undeserved. Help us to keep our eyes focused on you, on your healing and your hope, even when the pain overwhelms. But when we lose our footing, set us back on solid ground as only you can. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your love. Thank you for loving us so much you allow us to walk through the trials of this life because we know it’s through the pain and suffering you do your greatest work. May we always allow you to use the pain of this life to do a mighty work in us so you can do a mighty work through us…just as the cloud of faithful witnesses that has gone before us. In Jesus name I pray, amen.