“Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.” Job 38:2 (NLT 341)
Heart-wrecking words spoken by God to Job after Job lost his children and his fortune. Job spoke harshly of his circumstances, but he refused to curse God. Only Elihu spoke of God’s goodness, justice, mercy, and grace. Even what Elihu spoke, in chapters 32-37, to Job was prophetic in what came when God showed up face-to-face with Job.
You know what I love about Job? He was honest with God – really, brutally honest. He hid nothing from God. He laid his heart bear. Granted Jobs friends didn’t help matters much with their condemnations and accusations as to why Job was suffering, but still Job was truthful about the agony aching deeply in his heart.
When was the last time you or I did that – just let it all go, railing at God of our circumstances or whatever it is troubling us? I think it is a crucial tipping point in firming our faith and a way for God to make Himself known to us. Adversity, troubles, trials, and strife make us confront our human finiteness, confront our inability to hang on to the notion that we are in “control” of our lives, and make us put walking feet to our faith. Hard, challenging life-events make the warm fuzzies of faith flee and bring about the reality and hope of God’s word. We are immediately confronted with the question we don’t want to answer. “Do I believe? Is my faith enough? Do I have faith? Why is this happening?” Guess what? It’s okay to ask those questions; it is part of our brokenness to wonder in the hurt, to question the pain, to be angered over the circumstance. God already knows you’re going to do what humans do – have a crisis or near crisis of faith or doubt or more questions than answers. Then comes that moment where you have to decide you either believe or you do not believe. It is that moment in which you decide your belief is based on a Person and not a warm, fuzzy feeling. This, my friends, is the walk of faith.
I’d rather be with God walking with me through the valley of the shadow of death than to be walking uphill, without hope, thinking I could make it without God or anybody else. Honesty with God is step one to more freedom and resting in the peace of God that passes all understanding. Somehow, someway our naked honesty with God allows Him space to breathe life to the deadness in us, in our faith, in our hope, in our whatever-is-in-need of His life. Without the adversity, I wonder sometimes how much we’d really believe. Hard times make me stand on the promises of God. They make me stronger. Why? Because God’s promise produce faith, and that faith produces hope. Hope keeps me moving and reaching forward. It makes me an overcoming overcomer!
I, too, am like Job. I can’t lie. I own this truth. I have questions and misunderstandings, but I need God. I need God just like Job did. The God who showed up to redirect Job’s heart and to remind him of the vast immeasurableness of God. My humanity fails me so many times – fails to remember that God is good, that God can do anything, that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, that God made me and purposed me, and that God is fully aware of what is going on in every life around the world. I am humbled again re-reading the story of Job. To hear God question Job reminds me just how small I am, but it also gives me hope because God’s kindness led Job to repentance (to change his mind). I hear God question Job, and I just see a picture of God marking out the road to redemption and restoration. God is not afraid of our complaints, misgivings, despair, railing, hurt, anger, sadness, or disgustedness. He knows the weakness of our frame and that we are but frail and fragile dust (NLT 380). There is grace for us. Job found grace, and God restored him.
You see, God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a God of restoration, reconciliation, hope, and redemption. It’s been on His mind from the beginning of creation. Through His Son Jesus, God has made a way for us to be completely reconciled to Him as sons and daughters. He gave His only Son who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become His righteousness and be made right with Him (NLT 723). Yes, God knows grief and sorrow and the pain of crushing loss. Still He loves us. Still He pursues us. Still.
Selah – pause and think calmly of that.
God loves you. God loves you! God loves you most ardently!!! Nothing, no nothing, can make God love you any less in this right-now-moment. You need to know that it’s okay for you to lay your heart bear before God. It’s okay to tell God how you’re really feeling. He knows. He gets it. He hears, and yes, He wants to do something about it – but what He will do we cannot dictate or foretell because that would rob us of the opportunity to exercise faith.
Get to a quiet place and let it all out – write it, pray it, scream it, just get it out, invite God to your pain, and then… Wait… Wait… Wait to hear the Voice of God, the Shepherd… He will remind you Whose you are and Who He is. God is faithful. God is always faithful. Now you, just believe.
Here are a couple of Psalms that might help you along the way, and if you do not have the words or cannot fathom what to say, just say these aloud.
And always end with praise. It’ll keep your heart fixed on Hope in the King. Psalm 103 is a good one. May your honesty before God draw you nearer to His and His unending love for you.
Share your story. What works for you? How have you gotten through the crushing times? I’d love to hear about it.
Holy Bible New Living Translation Bible (slimline 2nd edition). Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2007.