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There will be two sorts who won’t understand this article. The first sort is the blessed, happy, naïve Christian who, thus far, has not been kicked in the head with the overwhelming trials and difficulties of life. The other is that noble brand of woman whom God has blessed with a constitution of iron and who can laugh in the face of any obstacle that comes her way. This letter is for the rest of us.
You know, Job was a blameless and upright sort of chap. It says so. In Job. I think he may have fallen into our first category about the happy, blessed naïve type at the beginning. And Satan must have thought the same because he went to God and told him. Satan said that Job was only blameless and upright because God had been extraordinarily nice to him.
But God knew better. God had personally built Job and meant to use him. And so God sovereignly allowed some things to happen in order that 4,800 years later God is still glorified and you and I are able to see some important things.
Most of you probably know how the story goes. Job is going about being his normal, blameless, upright self, and in one day he is brought news that every single one of his kids has been killed. Job’s response? He begins to grieve passionately… and then falls to the ground and worships God. Side note: I don’t generally fall to the ground and worship God when I’m having a bad day. But gee whiz, what a thing to aim for.
Then his health is savagely attacked. Job is struck with painful boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then his wife comes into the story. Good old Job’s wife. She looks over and says, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)
And here’s where I can really begin to relate to this story. I’m serious. Most of the time whenever I’ve heard this passage being preached on, the first response is usually a little grin from the pastor who looks up and says, “How’d you like to be married to a gem like that?”
But I’ll tell you what, I totally get Job’s wife. I really do. I understand being so overwhelmed and broken in my circumstances that in my despair – despite claiming Christ and knowing that I belong to Him – my faith has been drained away and I have despised my God.
Mature Christians understand that trials and persecution will come. It says so in Philippians 1:29. God grants us two things: He grants us the faith to believe in Christ, and secondly he grants us the gift of suffering for His sake. Yes, we’re promised suffering. Many Christians have never heard of such an outlandish thing. They’ve been told that, “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the last”, or, “Try Jesus and your life will become better”. Nope. Ain’t the case. Yes, God can choose to materially bless His people and He does! But God’s chief concern is for His name to be glorified and that we, His children, are shaped and molded into His image. And many times that hurts. Really badly. The good news is that He’s trustworthy and that all things --and that means ALL THINGS -- will be worked together for GOOD. (Romans 8:28)
“My husband had an affair with the office tramp” “My child was molested”. “My child has been killed” “My tax guy messed up and we owe 20 grand to the government” “My husband is a total moron and I’m stuck with him until one of us dies” “My child, whom I’ve raised in the admonition of the Lord has forsaken God and turned her back on our family” “The husband that I desperately love and need is dying of cancer” “My husband lost his job and we are losing everything” “My church is cesspool” “I have no friends” “My very best friend, who claims Christ, has turned against me and will not sit down and work things out”
These are the sorts of things that can either pile up on top of us, or single-handedly hit us, and reduce us to Job’s wife, making us ready to curse God and die.
About three years ago I was in my room with the door locked, lying on the floor sobbing my eyeballs out. I was shattered to pieces because I was overwhelmed with my circumstances -- but even more-so, I was broken-hearted because I was thinking about breaking up with God. It had already been a long year of excruciating pain and God wasn’t fixing the problems. So, basically, I was letting Him know that He was untrustworthy and I didn’t like the world He created.
I kept being reminded of Romans 8:28 and the promise that “all things would work together for good” but I didn’t care. It hurt too much right then. I was reminded of Job and how he suffered so worthily and how he would not blame God, and it made me feel even worse because it showed how much I was severely lacking. I was convinced I was unsaved. “Yes God, I’m unworthy. Yes God, it’s ALL about you and I’m just here to be a slave. Thanks for nothing. Why’d you have to even make me?”
And then I was reminded of the end of Job’s story. Do you know what happened? God blessed the latter days of Job even more than his beginning and gave him an overwhelmingly blessed future. And you know what? That made me down-right mad. And I cried out to God and said, “There is NOTHIING in the future that you could give me that could outweigh the absolute pain and misery I’m in RIGHT NOW… Heaven included!” I shudder to even write that out loud.
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Oh my heck. Talk about a gracious God. Why didn’t he send the lightning and zap my faithless carcass to ashes at that moment? Side note: Thank God for the example of Peter who was so quick to deny His Lord and yet God still used him mightily to build His church. Amazing Grace.
There is no way I could have seen or understood it at the time, but now that I’ve passed through the ‘hell years’ I can see so much of what God was accomplishing. To be honest, I could see a lot of the good He was accomplishing even during those years, but it was like being in labor. You know how it hurts so much that it’s difficult to look forward to the blessing that will come at the end? “Just get that stupid baby out!” That’s how it was.
I thank Him for His patience and mercy. I thank Him more for the faith He gives, because there is no way I could have mustered up the trust to stay His child during ‘the years of hard labor’ on my own. You remember that day I was sobbing in my room? The next day things didn’t get any better. Matter of fact, over the next three years things got increasingly difficult. Oh those dreadful years! I was afraid that the trials would never end and that I would not have the strength to live the rest of my life in that agonizing state. I thought this was to be my new life forevermore – bad news after painful circumstances -- until I dropped into blissful death.
“Oh Job’s wife, whatever your name is, I so totally get you...”
And now I’ll mention that, ‘yes’, some of our trials did let up and God recently brought us a year of peace and joy that has been unparalleled. I look back at my ferocity and violent declarations that ‘no gift He had to offer could outweigh the pain I was in”. How utterly stupid. I was speaking in my anguish. He was rebuilding me into somebody totally new. Somebody who loves Him more and trusts him better. If we claim Christ, isn’t this what we say we truly want? But I don’t want to do more than mention that things got easier, because it’s not the point. Some trials may only last a short time – some very well may last a life-time. But that does not change the nature of God, nor diminish his Faithfulness, nor detract from His Goodness. He is a surgeon. And sometimes the cure is painful. But He knows what He is doing, and it is for our good. If you’re truly His, it won’t matter if you think you don’t want the cure. He is faithful to work out the things in our lives for our good and for His glory.
I’m thankful for those years. I don’t want to see them again, but I am thankful.
Listen to me, Christian, if you are drowning in the overwhelming harshness of this life right now, be encouraged and know this: God is good. He is. Yes, He does love you. He does. I promise that He will not forsake you. HE promises that He won’t forsake you. Anchor yourself to Him. Don’t be afraid. It’s ok that your prayer today only consisted of, “God, please give me faith to believe in you, because right now I don’t feel like I do”. You’re not alone. You’re not. Call out to God because He does hear you. He does care for you. And thereis a plan in place; one that is good.
I hope I see Job ‘s wife in heaven. Even though I can’t stand to be touched, I’d like to hug that lady and let her know that there was another miserable, life-weary girl out there who God was able to refine and, hopefully, in some small way, be used for His glory.
“God, you know who the ones are who are reading this right now. Lord, uphold them. Strengthen them. Let them see you and know that you love them. God, I pray that you would completely heal and fix the problems they are being battered with. You are a merciful God and are always good. Lord, if they must continue walking through the fire, please hold them close. Give them the strength and faith to walk with you through the pain in a way that glorifies your name and is a testimony of your grace to those who may be watching. Amen”.
Originally printed in Home Educating Family Magazine Summer 2011 (http://www.wellplannedday.com/ ) Jenefer Igarashi is married to Geoff the Great, a homeschooling momsie to six and a director at HomeschoolConvention.com. http://homeschoolconvention.com/ They live in Springfield MO and attend Southcreek Church http://www.southcreekchurch.org/