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His sons, dead. His land, devoured by fire and thieves. His body, covered in painful sores. Most people who hear the name Job assume his story is about overcoming intense suffering. We use it as a beacon of hope in our times of trial. But I see a more important idea emerging from the pages. A story of humble pie.
Job certainly had reason to be upset, but he aimed his mistrust in the wrong direction. Like we tend to do during hard times, he started to wonder if God was good, if He cared, or if He was just plain cruel. Basically, Job wondered if God knew what He was doing.
“And now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken hold of me… God has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes. I cry to You for help and You do not answer me; I stand, and You only look at me. You have turned cruel to me; with the might of Your hand You persecute me. You lift me up on the wind; you make me ride on it, and You toss me about in the roar of the storm” (Job 30:16,19-22 ESV).
Job let his suffering shape his view of God instead of trusting God in his suffering. I’ve been guilty of this too. When lost in grief following miscarriages, I wondered if I could really trust God anymore. Didn’t He see my pain? Worse, if He saw my pain, why did He continue to let me suffer? I started to think I knew better than God, which made me bitter and left me grasping for control.
But somewhere in the middle of the trial, I surrendered my pain to Jesus. I decided to trust His will for my life and accept that He really did want what was best for me, even if that involved a season of hurt.
I think that’s why Job’s story is important to reflect upon. Not because everything turns out great for him in the end, but because difficulties will come, but we can choose now to trust in God’s wisdom instead of our own limited view.
I look back on my season of loss, as backwards as it sounds, I am grateful for it. Without that hard time, I would not have sought a relationship with God. I would’ve missed out on Jesus and all the love and joy that came through a life spent with Him.
God knew wholeness would come when all I could see was brokenness. He could see the end when I could only see the next minute.
Job put it this way once he regained a little faith: “From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the air…God understands the way to it, and He knows its place. For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens…then He saw it and declared it; He established it, and searched it out. And He said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding’” (28:20-28 ESV).
Coming near to Jesus is the key to wisdom. Meanwhile relying on ourselves will cause more problems than good. Job couldn’t lead himself out of suffering, nor could I, nor can you. We need our God for that.
In our hardest moments when we wonder where God is and if He’s still in control, let’s remind our doubting hearts that His way is best. Our God sees everything under the heavens including our need, so we needn’t worry. Instead, hold onto him with all we’ve got. And then hold on a little more.
Sometimes the best choices are the hardest to make. Sometimes wisdom appears foolish and faith fanatical. As a young mother striving to live for Jesus, I quickly learned just how contrary the things of God can appear to some.
When I chose to stay home, some deemed me lazy.
When I attempted to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance and guard our daughter’s influences, I was accused of sheltering her. I was told my actions would ultimately harm her and leave her maladjusted.
My attempts to explain, or perhaps more accurately, to defend my choice, didn’t help. My discussion of God’s leading—of His gentle voice, spoken softly yet clearly to my heart—and the deep assurance that followed made no sense to those who had never heard Him or hadn’t learned to discern His voice.
Perhaps some even found me delusional:
“She claims to hear from God,” they say, with a raised eyebrow and slight smirk. “Does she talk to the Easter Bunny too?”
Over time, I learned to be a little more cautious regarding what I shared and with whom. And honestly, I hate that. I hate that I so often allow other people’s opinions to hold me back. I wish, like Paul, I could boldly and consistently say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes …” (Romans 1:16, ESV) and then back this up with my actions.
I’ve been ridiculed by my peers. He’d been imprisoned for his faith. I’d stood against cultural opposition to raise our daughter. He stood against the religious elite and angry mobs. I’ve been excluded from certain groups due to my “passion for Jesus”, but he’d been smuggled out of Berea in order to save his life.
There’s a lot of reasons I could give for why, at times, sharing the gospel makes my stomach knot and my palms get sweaty, and yet, in each instance, it comes down to this—whenever I stifle God’s message within, I’m putting my pride above someone else’s salvation.
When I look at it that way, my concerns and fears seem petty at best.
I imagine Paul felt as I have, on many occasions. Otherwise why the need to make such a bold and declarative statement—for I am not ashamed. Unless maybe he’d been tempted to feel ashamed in the past—perhaps when mobs of angry people shook their fists at him, spit on him, and hurled stones at him. Or perhaps others, maybe even believers in Rome, had demonstrated that they were ashamed of him. Or maybe he was simply stating a fact with all the courage the Holy Spirit allowed—I am not ashamed! No matter what others say, no matter how foolish or irrational my words appeared, I choose to speak life.
Even if it costs me mine.
Lord, help me have that same confidence Paul demonstrated again and again, regardless how others respond or how unpopular Your message appears. Because life’s too short and there’s too much at stake for any of Your children to remain silent.
Life’s much too short and Your love for the broken too strong for any of us, Your mouthpieces, to live afraid.
To the contrary! As ambassadors of the sovereign King, we can walk into any and every situation with our heads held high, our voices sure, and our message clear: “I am not ashamed, and I refuse to be, because the words I speak have power and life.”
Let’s talk about this! When has obedience caused you to look foolish in the moment or left you misunderstood? How did you gain the courage to step forward in faith? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other. And make sure to engage with us on Facebook and Instagram where we post daily snippets of encouragement!