Questioning naturally follows suffering. “Why?” almost always comes first. Sometimes God answers us specifically, sometimes we find comfort in the possible explanations scripture offers (see "What Could Possibly Explain...?"), and sometimes we’ll never know. So the question then becomes, “What?” Or even “How?”
What do we do? How do we go on when we feel like we’re living Job’s story? What did he do as he endured devastation after devastation?
Let it be said of us what is said of Job, “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:22).
When his wife challenges him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9), Job responds, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). When we receive the free gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven; we’re made right before God and given new life here on earth and for eternity. We can’t just take the good, and then doubt and curse Him when tragedy strikes.
Let it be said of us, even in our suffering, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).
It’s natural to question. It’s natural to falter in our faith in ourselves, in mankind, in this world, in a particular outcome, and in our ability to get through anything in life on our own. What must remain steady no matter what is our faith in Him.
Let it be said of us that we never wavered in our faith in the power of God (I Corinthians 2:5).
God is God. Nothing will ever change that. Job accepts this truth and knows He has a right to do whatever He wants as he rhetorically asks, “Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’” (Job 9:12). “For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both” (9:32-33).
Let it be said of us that we have already settled in our hearts, even in our suffering, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
In Job 19:25-27, Job reveals his hope, the reason he can respond as he does, and it’s our hope, too: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth;and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God,whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
Let it be said of us, as we see in Job, that our view of the earthly is heavenly. Like Moses, who by faith chose “to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).
Job, Moses, and other Hebrews 11 giants of faith all have an eternal perspective on their temporal circumstances. It’s all about God and not about us. Are we willing that He be God no matter what that means for us? Our answer will determine the attitude of our hearts and our response when we’re suffering.
Let it be said of us that we determined in our hearts what Job determined in his:
As God lives, who has taken away my justice, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter, as long as my breath is in me, and the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit…till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live (Job 27:2-6).
As Hebrews 12:1-3 puts it, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
Like Jesus, we can cry out to the Father in our gut-wrenching agony, but let us never lose our faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him,” even when we’re suffering. This is the agony of victory.
As my pastor succinctly summed it up Sunday: “By faith is hard. Not by faith is harder.”
Lord, increase our faith even in adversity and give us whatever we need to stand firm in You. Help us to overcome any unbelief and to believe that You are and You are a rewarder of those who diligently seek You.