Life seems pretty good, until it’s not. Everything can be going so well and then, WHAM!, the carpet gets pulled out from under you. You are lying on the floor dizzy and shaken, maybe concussed. In shock, you look around at the mess and dust floating in the air. How did you get here?
You were walking a straight line. You had picked up all of the obstacles so that you wouldn’t trip. The job is secure, the family is thriving, the house payments are in on time, the faith is growing. What did you miss to get you here on the floor?
Bad news is always a phone call away, isn’t it? That isn’t to scare you, but it’s usually the harsh reality. We see Job, living an amazing life. Righteous and with integrity, he walks among the community. God has granted him with many blessings and Job knows that. He had a vision that life would be good and long because of his devotion to God. But the devil had the idea that he could turn Job away from God by taking away all that God had given him. In a blink, Job’s life changed.
We are in the midst of Job’s turmoil and sorrow. This is a cross-roads for us too. How can you, when life takes an unexpected, unexplained turn, keep your faith in God? How can you see eventual good come out of a tragic situation? What could God possibly do to make this impossible situation better?
Read on, friends!
S – Scripture: Job 29-31
- 29:13-14 – “I helped those without hope, and they blessed me. And I caused the widows’ hearts to sing for joy. Everything I did was honest. Righteousness covered me like a robe, and I wore justice like a turban.”
- 29:18-19 – “I thought, ‘Surely I will die surrounded by my family after a long, good life. For I am like a tree whose roots reach the water, whose branches are refreshed with the dew.'”
- 30:15-18 – “I live in terror now. My honor has blown away in the wind, and my prosperity has vanished like a cloud. And now my life seeps away. Depression haunts my days. At night my bones are filled with pain, which gnaws at me relentlessly. With a strong hand, God grabs my shirt. He grips me by the collar of my coat.”
- 30:20 – “I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you, but you don’t even look.”
- 31:14 – “how could I face God? What could I say when he questioned me?”
- 31:35-36 – “If only someone would listen to me! Look, I will sign my name to my defense. Let the Almighty answer me. Let my accuser write out the charges against me. I would face the accusation proudly. I would wear it like a crown.”
O – Observation:
- Job speaks of his former life, all he had and all of the good things he did for others. He lead a righteous life and felt strong and secure.
- Job laments about life as it is now. He is mocked, robbed, despised, alone, humbled, opposed, depressed, in pain, and persecuted by all the people he helped before.
- Job makes one more claim of innocence and questions what he may have done.
- Lust (30:1-4), Lying (30:5), strayed from God (30:6-8), treated servants unfairly (30:13), refused to help the poor, widows, and orphans (30:16-23), put trust in money or gloated about wealth (30:24-25), idolatry (26-28), mocked enemies or sought revenge (30:29-30), tried to hide sin (30:33-34) – Job claims he did none of these things.
- Job questions how he could even face God. What could he possibly say to redeem himself?
A – Application:
I was reminded of a podcast that I listened to not too long ago by Pastor Levi Lusko, author of “Through the Eyes of a Lion.” He was speaking at Willow Creek in Chicago at their midweek service on how he overcame the loss of his daughter to an asthma attack. It was a tragic time in his life, and yet, God has used his story in powerful ways to give others strength and hope to get through their grief.
One of the points he made stuck out to me so profoundly. Pastor Lusko was discussing how the devil has to ask God to do anything that is evil, and God must allow it. There is no way we can know why God allows the things he does. But he says, “everything God allows has the backdoor purpose of accomplishing what he wants, not what the devil wants.”
Levi Lusko then shares briefly the stories of Joseph, Job, and Jesus. He shows how evil was allowed to enter their lives, stripping them of their homes, wealth, family, and, in Jesus’ case, his life. But in each situation, God controlled everything that happened and worked it into something far more amazing than we could have thought and defeated Satan’s plan.
Joseph was sold by his brothers, but later became second to Pharaoh and saved millions from starvation due to a famine in the land. He was later reunited and reconciled with his family. Job was stripped of his wealth, family, and health, but (spoiler alert!) God granted him twice as much as he had before. Jesus was betrayed, beaten, and crucified, yet God raised him from the dead to save the rest of the world for the wages of sin. Amen!
I’ve also seen it in my life. When I was sixteen I completely tore my ACL playing basketball. I was a Junior in High School and the level of play was starting to get good. I was getting good. Then an injury knocked me out for the rest of the season of basketball and, my favorite sport, volleyball. I was devastated.
What was I supposed to do now? How was I ever going to recover and be as good as I would have been? Will I ever play sports again? Why me?
Then I went through Physical Therapy and fell in love! I had so much fun at my sessions. I was amazed at how my knee could go from completely immobilized to full range of motion. It was from then on that I wanted to do that. I developed a passion for seeing other people healed through exercise. It changed the trajectory of my life that I maybe wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
This experience also strengthened my spiritual life. At that time, a friend of mine, Brenda, reminded me of Romans 8:28 (I know I’ve shared it before, but it’s so good!):
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
At the time, that was the most tragic thing that had ever happened to me. It was the first time that I had to question the goodness of God and his plan for me. I had an idea of what my life was supposed to look like, and all of a sudden, with one bad twist of my knee, my life changed.
This was an opportunity for the devil to swoop in a turn my thinking away from God and towards him instead. I could have decided to leave all that God had for me in that moment. I could have stated that he clearly doesn’t love me, why would this have happened if he did? So could Joseph, Job, and Jesus.
But that verse, “God causes everything to work together for the good.” I clung to that promise like a lifeline.
What would have happened if I didn’t go through that surgery? Where would I have ended up? What would have happened if Joseph’s brothers didn’t sell him into slavery? What if Jesus never died on the cross? Where would we be?
God’s powerful and mighty hand is always in control, of the good and the bad. He has you. And if you allow him to, he can do amazing things through this tough time in your life. You have the choice. You always do. Either see your situation as a forever dark path, never to be light again. Or, let the Creator of Light shine so powerfully that you can’t explain how your life became so blessed out of the dark.
I’m waiting to see the light that comes from the hardship of two miscarriages. I don’t know what God is going to do with that or how he is going to use that to make good in my life. There are days when the waiting just seems like too much. It can be overwhelming. But there is hope. There are good things to be thankful for right now. I can see God moving, in his time.
Are you waiting to see the light through the darkness? Take hope, God is working, friend. Trust in his love and his timing. He has good plans for you.
P – Prayer:
God, thank you for being in control. As much as I like being in control, I know that I can’t do it all. Especially in trials, I can’t get a grip on anything it seems. But it comforts me to know that you can handle it. You are working in ways that I can’t yet see. Thank you for the examples of Joseph, Job, and Jesus. Where would we be without their overcoming trials. This gives me hope.
Father, continue to bless me with glimpses of your promises and power. Don’t let the devil sneak in and disrupt the work you are doing. Give me strength to overcome his snares and detect his lies. Amen