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One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
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Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:6-12).
My life had crumbled around me. I was coping with the devastation of my husband’s adultery. I was walking through the process of divorce after 17 years of marriage. My position as pastor’s wife had been ripped from me along with my identity. I was facing an uncertain future as a single mother of three young children with no source of steady income. Everything I had known, everything I had clung to for security was gone.
I had been unable to pray or open my Bible for months. The pain was too great, and my anger at God perhaps even greater. It was only through the prayers of others and the intercession of the Holy Spirit that I had made it this far.
Finally, I sensed God’s presence and surrendered to this most unwelcome journey. I decided that even though I didn’t want it, I would embrace the journey. I would seek God. I would ask him to do an amazing work in me so he could do an amazing work through me.
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I opened my Bible and found this passage at the beginning of Job.
“Have you considered my servant, Dena?” God asked Satan.
“Have you not put a hedge around her and her household and everything she has? You have blessed the work of her hands…” Satan replied.
The passage struck me to my core. Had God hand-picked me for these trials? Had he seen something in me, something that indicated I would survive the fire? Had God chosen me to have my faith tested and purified? Did he have a special mission for me, something that could only be accomplished by testing me with these various trials, knowing that the testing of my faith would produce perseverance and maturity (James 1:2-4)?
I wasn’t excited about the journey, but I began to find peace in my circumstances. I began to understand that God won’t leave us where we are, in our comfort zone, in complacency. Those he loves, he disciplines, he challenges. I began to sense that he loves me so much that he allowed these awful circumstances into my life to mold me, shape me into his image. I began to sense that he had a greater purpose for my pain, one that was not obvious to me at the time. I began to see that he was using these difficulties for my good and his glory.
If you know the story of Job, you know that he lost everything—his children, his flocks, his wealth, his servants, his health. He went through grief and mourning, defending his integrity to those who placed the blame on him for some hidden sin. He questioned God. He doubted his faith. He wondered if the pain was worth it. His wife even advised him to curse God and die (Job 2:9).
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).
Job had the attitude that God gives and he takes away. As humans, who are we to say we won’t accept something from God? Who are we to doubt the Almighty? Can anything touch our lives that is not allowed by the Creator of the Universe? Is it possible that every pain, every heartache, every trial has a greater purpose? Doesn’t scripture tell us that all things work for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28)? If we believe the Bible, can’t we trust that God is doing something bigger than we can perceive?
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I began to let go and trust God. I began to allow him to have his way in my life. I began to sense that there was more to the story than I could see. I began to adopt the attitude that said, “If I have accepted God’s blessings all my life, who am I to say that I won’t accept the trials as well?”
After 40 chapters of discourse between Job, his friends and God, we find this little gem:
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you (Job 42:5).
After walking through the pain and the trials, Job reached a place where he found an intimate knowledge of his God. He had known about God all of his life, but he realized that now he had experienced God and all his faithfulness. His pride and arrogance had been revealed and stripped away. His faith had been tested as he doubted God. He came to understand that God is far greater than our human understanding can grasp (Job 42:2-3).
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I’ve walked this journey as a single mom for five years now. I’ve been stripped of pride and legalism. I’ve found a compassion for those who are hurting. I’ve seen the true condition of my heart. I’ve doubted my faith and the God of my childhood. My faith has been tested, tried, stretched. I’ve been forced to depend on no one and nothing except my Savior. He has planted dreams and hopes for a future that I cannot yet see, forcing me to cling to him and him alone.
Although I had taught scripture my entire life, although I had shared my Savior for years, before these trials I did not know him. I only knew about him. Today, I have seen him. I have seen his faithfulness. I have seen my Great I Am provide exactly what I need, exactly when I need it. He has been more than I could have ever asked or imagined. His faithfulness has changed me.
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part (Job 42:12).
I wish my marriage hadn’t ended. I wish I could have celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary like my parents, a 71st wedding anniversary like my grandparents. I wish my children didn’t have to deal with the trauma of divorce.
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But I would never go back. What I have gained through this process far outweighs any pain that I have experienced. The beauty of my future surpasses anything in my past. The joy of knowing my Savior deeply and intimately is worth more than any material blessing. He has shown me his strength through my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). He has shown me that he is all I need. He has shown me that what man intends for harm, he will use for our good and his glory (Genesis 50:20).
Have you been thrust into an unwelcome trial? Have you lost the people and things that you hold dear? Are you doubting God, doubting your faith? Is it more than you can handle? God doesn’t want you to handle it; he wants to handle it for you. Surrender to the journey. Surrender to the God who allowed these trials into your life.
Surrender to the one who has chosen you.
Dena Johnson is a busy single mom of three kids who loves God passionately. She delights in taking the everyday events of life, finding God in them, and impressing them on her children as they sit at home or walk along the way (Deuteronomy 6:7). Her greatest desire is to be a channel of God’s comfort and encouragement. You can read more of Dena’s experiences with her Great I AM on her blog Dena's Devos.
Publication date: September 15, 2014