By Aaron Brown, Crosswalk.com
Here’s a question for you to consider: Has there been any point in your life, where you felt alone? I mean truly alone; as in, you experienced a disconnection from God, others, and even from yourself.
No matter how much you prayed, you felt like God did not deliver you from your sorrow. When you called out to family or friends for support, they didn’t understand, or worse, they criticized you.
In their eyes, you were to blame for all of your suffering.
If only you knew what to do, but sadly you didn’t. And neither did they. And to you, God wasn’t answering. There was seemingly no way out.
Many troubles in life can leave us in a state of despair, and one of those likely culprits is the feeling of loss.
Death, divorce, breakups, a ruined friendship. Each of these is indicative of loss. The feeling is not limited to relationships, however, property can be lost, as well as confidence, security, or physical mobility.
As despair creeps in, we can easily find ourselves succumbing to fear that looks inescapable. But looks can be deceiving.
One of the saddest, and yet, victorious stories of the Bible occurs in the Book of Job. Here we have a devout believer who not only has strong faith, but has a large family and vast earthly wealth (Job 1:1-3). He was all-around blessed. With his seasons of prosperity though, came a season of severe loss that devasted everything he had.
At the hands of the devil, Job lost almost everything: relationships, children, property. He was even stricken with sickness. Somehow, in some way, Job was sustained through all his trouble.
The reason? He trusted God.
If you are going through a season of loss that seems to overwhelm you, take heart. Here’s what the Book of Job reveals about trust during loss.
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For distress does not grow out of the soil,
and trouble does not sprout from the ground.
But humans are born for trouble
as surely as sparks fly upward.
However, if I were you, I would appeal to God
and would present my case to him.
He does great and unsearchable things,
wonders without number.
There’s a saying in the church that has found its way into Christian music, “let go and let God.” Not all will readily acknowledge, those words are easier said than done. Still, letting God have his way is definitely possible.
As Job’s life reveals, there are things in life we cannot control. Certain circumstances befall us without us getting a say-so beforehand. In fact, most of life we cannot control.
When the uncontrollable happened to Job, he didn’t ignore his situation and pretend like life was okay.
He was far from okay. Yet, what was happening was not something that Job could change. He decided to respond to his hardship with prayer. He made his appeal to God throughout his ordeal and maintained his faith.
He was not always in a positive mindset, but he kept the correct perspective of God.
The entirety of Job 3 details him lamenting his suffering. Job is complaining, and struggling to understand the way of God. Job struggled so much that he found himself in offense to God to which he apologized (Job 42:6).
How powerful! We can struggle with God and still have a relationship, just like a child with a father.
These details are reassuring that we can get emotional in our prayers, asking God why we have to suffer, how we can learn, and asking for his guidance to get through.
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Seasons Come And Go
Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will leave this life.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
– Job 1:21
If only the good times lasted forever. Seasons of prosperity, and even tight-knit relationships, often come to an end. In reality, these good times do find their conclusion.
On a positive note, if the good times lasted forever, then there would be no need for heaven. We would instead literally have “heaven on Earth.” That’s not God’s plan.
As with the good seasons, the same is true for the difficult seasons of life. They don’t last forever.
Part of Job’s ability to accept his suffering came from the realization that God blessed him plenty in life. Who is he that his life should be free from any and all suffering?
Job accepted the good with the bad, knowing that both had their purposes in God’s eyes.
Even if we don’t know the reason for our suffering, we can still pray as Job did to be sustained. We can even come to God in prayer and ask him to share his wisdom with us so we can learn our lessons, and learn them well.
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People Are Not Always Helpful
His wife said to him, ‘Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!’ – Job 2:9
My relatives stop coming by, and my close friends have forgotten me. – Job 19:14
Job was in deep anguish over his suffering. He was so bent out of shape that he cursed the day he was born (Job 3:3). That is intense, yet not unrealistic to what some people feel.
Making Job’s situation worse were the people around him. Suffering is always much easier when people can offer advice or consolation, but what if they can’t or just won’t? What then?
Job’s three friends intended to help Job—but did not. And in the process, angered God (Job 42:7). Job’s wife, too, spoke in unhelpful ways about Job’s condition.
There are people in our lives who want to help, but don’t know the truth of what to say. So instead, they say something that they believe will help. People who don’t know the truth should admit such...so as to avoid leading you astray.
People, too, sometimes see another’s suffering and automatically equate that suffering to their own behavior. Humans are sinners, but Jesus always said to expect trouble in this world (John 16:33).
Not all the hardships we face in life are a result of our own actions.
When people are not able to speak God’s word into your life and lead you back to a feeling of intimate connection, don’t rely on them. There is someone else you can turn to who is perfect in every way.
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God Is Trustworthy
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and doubled his previous possessions. – Job 42:10
Do you understand the magnitude of that fact? God is trustworthy. Provided enough time, every person in your life has or will do let you down. God never will.
You might feel initial disappointment that God didn’t give you exactly what you wanted, but his way is better in the end.
Job endured a season of suffering, but at an appointed time (that only God knew), Job was not only restored, but received more than he had before.
God blessed Job spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially.
Sometimes our suffering seems to last a long time. Despair seems to sit on us. We go to bed feeling crummy and wake up the same way. Day in and day out we pray, asking for deliverance. Our hearts are aimed toward God, but the suffering feels nonstop.
We begin to doubt God, others, ourselves. This is the downward spiral of toxic thinking.
As author Jennie Allen says in Get Out Of Your Head: Stropping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts, you can interrupt those thoughts with a single phrase: I have a choice.
Job had a choice. He chose to maintain his faith. He endured his struggle for a timeframe he did not know. He suffered while other people put him down. He struggled with God, but keep praying.
He creates a positive portrait for us today of a believer who can endure any test and trial, so long as we keep our faith in God—the perfect, immaculate, and trustworthy God. There is no need to give up. No need to hurt ourselves or anyone else. God will heal us, restore us, and make us better than before.
That’s just what God does. So trust.
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