Conveniently (more like Providencially) in my yearly Bible reading plan, began at the end of 2013, I was reading through the book of Job at this time. Several truths shined through as I was reading.
First, there are no easy answers. Job’s friends wanted to define God in simple terms i.e. “if you do good things, God blesses you. If you do bad things, God punishes you.” Although much of the Old Testament Law revolves around this concept, it was incomplete. Job is one of the places in the Old Testament where the concept of atonement and grace is hinted at through prophecy. Even before Jesus was on the scene, its clear that God’s heart could not be “boiled down” to God blesses good people and punishes bad people. In the end, God reprimands Job’s friends for their simplistic view of Him and the shame they attempted to heap on Job in his misery.
The second theme in this book of the Bible is Job’s blunt honesty with God. Job, a righteous man, still questions, struggles and a times concludes it would have been better if he had never been born. Its clear that at several points in Job’s journey he is pretty mad at God. Can you blame him? He wasn’t perfect but he had committed his life to God and sought to live with honor and integrity. Then in the course of a few days, all his children die, he loses all of his financial security and he gets a disease that causes extreme pain and disfigurement. It made my current struggles actually seem small. Job is then under strong pressure to take responsibility for the trials by admitting sin that he didn’t commit. He never “fakes” it but keeps it “real” by pouring out his emotions to God.
There is a moment where God speaks to Job and the sheer power of God’s presence opens Job’s eyes to the character of God. I’m not sure but I don’t think Job would have had the paradigm shift in his life if he had not stood toe-to-toe with God, not willing to back down from God’s presence until God spoke to his heart the answer he needed. Job’s courage was powerful but I think it had been forged in a trust built up between he and his creator, developed over a lifetime of seeking God’s face. My “take away” from this part of scripture is that there are times when we need to tenaciously look for answers from God, refusing to accept the easy, trite explanations, not backing down from God’s presence until our spirit is satisfied.
Let me say if you are trying to help someone working through serious loss. Let God speak to their heart. Continually point them to God but don’t rush them through the process. Don’t assume that loss points to sin or that God is punishing them. Listen deeply. Step into their world as much as you can. Try to understand but know you will probably never understand.
Let me say if you are struggling with serious loss. I don’t have all the answers but God does. He is there with you as you grieve and process your pain. Don’t be afraid to feel or to ask the tough questions with God. Resist the temptation to accept easy answers or bottle up your feelings. Don’t just pour out the emotions with everyone. There are too many who cannot handle or understand the loss you are feeling. Find Godly, trusted people to talk to. Never stop going to God with your anger, despair or numbness!! He is faithful. I believe that in your searching, you will find the answers your heart needs.
The last lesson from Job is that there was a happy ending. Job lived a long life and enjoyed God’s blessings for the remainder of it. He had more children. His fortunes were restored. Job didn’t let the suffering he had experienced define him or his life. Many people never get past the pain. They accept lies that life is meant to be suffering. They make false assumptions about their future based on one season in their life. You may not know how long your season will be but don’t make the assumption that this season is what your future will look like. God loves you and He still wants great things for you. As you walk in this season, rely on His grace to give you the power and strength to walk the path and look with anticipation to your future that is in His loving hands. God Bless!