At sometime or another I think all of us have our Job moment. That moment when you feel like It. Just. Won’t. Stop. Coming!
Abour a year ago, I remember being in my car thinking about the morning I had already had with my very strong-willed, 3-year-old. Not even being 10am, I knew it wasn’t starting out to be a great day. I wondered why God was just bringing it. Like rain. A never-ending thunderstorm. Earlier that morning, before I had strapped both kids in their car seats, I closed the door to the bedroom & laid facedown on the bed, tears pouring from my face, asking God to change me, fix me, make me better in these ridiculously hard moments of parenting little kids. Just moments before that, I stood in the door way petitioning God: “Why are you allowing this to continue to happen? Why can’t you step in & make him stop? Jesus…please. Please!” It was an all out plea from me to God for something, some kind of clarity as to why I struggle so much with my 3-year-old.
In the midst of the blaring music in the car, God began to speak to my heart– We all have moments where it just keeps coming & it is our reaction in those moments that matters more than anything– As I reflected on the hours before, Job came to mind. Job had it flood in over & over. One thing after the other. I needed to read Job.
That afternoon, I dug into Job [well not all of it…it’s a little long to tackle in a nap time]. In just the first chapter we read of Job’s life, his donkeys were stolen & his servants killed (vs 13-15), then his sheep & those servants were struck by lightning (vs 16), his camels were captured & those servants were killed (vs. 17), & then a house collapsed on his children, killing all of them including those servants (vs 18). One thing after the next, before he could even fully comprehend what had just happened, something else happened.
How often have we felt like that? Just snowball after snowball. Storm after storm. Issue after issue. No matter what we correct or what we do or how much we pray… it just keeps coming. Why does God do this to us? Why does He continue to allow our lives to go wrong when He sees we are beginning to break? Well, let’s read on because it is still not over for Job.
In chapter 2 it hits even closer to home. In vs 7, Job is afflicted with sores from the top of his head to the bottoms of his feet. So no matter where he sits, how he lays, or if he stands or walks, it hurts. There is no forgetting about it for a few minutes. As if loosing his estate & kids isn’t bad enough, now he is sick. Haven’t we all been there? [well, I hope none of us have been in that exact place, but you get what I’m saying].
Here, though, is where Job differs from us many times. Going back to Chapter 1, instead of crying out & cursing God or blaming God, he drops to his knees in worship & says ” The Lord gave & the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (vs. 21)
He praises God. In the midst of the biggest storm of his life, he praises God. In Hollywood, this is where the story would wrap up nicely & Job would go skipping off because he did “the right thing”…but this isn’t Hollywood. Just 3 verses later, in Chapter 2, Job is covered in sores. How does Job respond? He grabs a piece of a broken jar (most likely from the remains of his estate) & scraps the sores off. Then his lovely wife comes along & “encourages” him to just curse God so he can die (vs. 9)– basically she says, “why are you still doing this? Don’t you think you would be better off dead?” (vs. 9). Wife of the year award right there folks.
But again Job, consistent as ever, says woman you are speaking foolish. How can we accept the good from God & not accept the bad that comes too? (vs. 10). The book continues with Job’s friends basically asking him the same type of questions his wife did. But Job holds strong, honoring God for what He has done & what he [Job] had. It isn’t until Chapter 42 that we see, because of Job’s faithfulness, God blesses him more in the second part of his life than the first. Job seemed to understand that God has a plan, he even says in vs 2 “I know that you can do all things, no plan of yours can be thwarted”.
Ok…so that’s well & great, go Job. But what about us? What can we learn from this? How does God want us to respond? What does He want us to remember in those times when it rains?
1 Corinthians 10:13 is often quoted as saying God won’t give you more than you can handle, BUT if you read what comes before & after it actually says
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man, And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
Most people think this means you will never be pressed & if you can’t handle it, you won’t have to deal with it. Wrong, that is where Christ comes in, “he will provide a way out so you can stand up under it.”–He will provide a way out & that way out is always the same…HIM! He is the way out. He bears what we cannot & in those tough situations we must call on him. That is what we are supposed to do.
Another verse that sheds light on how to think about these tough times is James 1:2-4
“Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
We are told to consider those hard times as joy– now Job may not have been happy that his livelihood & children were taken away but he maintains his joy & faith in the Lord. Vs 3 tells us plainly why we need to consider it joy…
“the testing of your faith develops perseverance”
Perseverance is a direct result of staying the course. As I dissected that verse, I immediately thought of exercise. If you never tax your muscles with pressure or weight, you will be physically weak. Only through pressure (trial) of exercise or pushing just past where you think you could go, will you develop physical strength (perseverance) to push further next time & endure another trial. So looking at that in this seniero, only through an exercise or trial of our faith will we develop the strength (perseverance) to grow & better able to withstand the next mile or mountain, placed in front of us. We may not enjoy what we are going through, but there is a reason for it & we are blessed to have a God who we can call on when we are pushed to our spiritual breaking point.
So how should we look at those moments when life is just beating us down? My situation is not even close to what Job endured, but my current trial is my trial. It is my breaking point. My time in life of having to persevere & push through to develop those muscles. For sure, my faith muscles are growing. Anyone else?