Jennifer Kostick– Jennifer Kostick is an author and speaker who teaches women how to activate their life’s purpose through the study of Scripture. Jennifer knows more about grief and loss than she ever thought she would, but Jesus met her in the middle of fierce storms and held her tightly with an even fiercer love. In addition to her love of teaching the powerful truth of Scripture, Jennifer is married to Paul, her husband of twenty-five years, has three children, and a beautiful daughter-in-law! She is also a full-time seminary student… because you can never know too much about the Bible! Jennifer blogs at www.Jenniferkostick.com and is passionate about encouraging women through a godly message of mercy and hope.
I wish I could tell you why I’ve chosen to sit down and write. Maybe it’s because I think it might help me feel better. Perhaps it’s because as much as I want to throw my hands in the air and tell God I’m done doing everything it is He wants me to do, I can’t. I don’t want to write, but it’s as if something on the inside burns until I get the words out. He won’t let me quit.
I also wish I could tell you I had some sort of plan for what I’m about to say. I don’t, so hold on tight. I’m not sure what’s even safe to convey at this point. My emotions have gone wild and for the first time in my life I have no interest in taking command of them. I feel entitled. Entitled to yell and scream and rant and rave and tantrum about how I don’t deserve to suffer what I’m suffering. However, truth is truth: Jesus didn’t say I wouldn’t suffer, He only said I wouldn’t suffer alone.
In the quiet spaces inside my head where no one can hear me, I use different terminology to explain my situation. For example:
Merry Christmas to me… I am motherless.
I don’t have a mother.
My mother died.
My mom is gone.
I feel like an orphan.
And the list goes on and on.
I feel as if I’m broken beyond repair. My brother died only five months ago, and now my mother. Three years ago, I lost my stepfather. My entire immediate family is gone. That old saying, “You can’t go home again”, well, I finally understand what it means.
But, does it matter?
You see, when I think I can’t go home again, I’m reminded that this world is not my home. (See Hebrews 13:14) When I become angry, telling myself I’m a good, God-fearing woman who does not deserve to suffer, I’m reminded how much Jesus, who lived a perfectly sinless life, suffered. Perspective matters.
Oh friend, I have no idea what God is doing in my life, but among all the tragedy I know it’s good. That sounds crazy to even say at this point, but THE God of the impossible seems to take us down illogical paths. Those pathways lead to wholeness. I know because I’ve been healed from other grief, and I’ve no doubt I’ll be healed of this. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
My mother once told me that when she was a little girl, she would stand on the side of the bathtub to pray. As a young child, she reasoned that the higher up she was when she prayed, the closer she would be to God, and the better He could hear her. She had lots of stories like that. God pursued my mom from an early age. So much so, she was willing to climb to get to His throne.
If you’re dealing with any kind of crisis at all, please hear what I’m about to say.
God pursues ALL of us! My mother wasn’t an exception, I am not an exception. Each one of us was given a purpose to fulfill here. In the book of Acts, Luke writes about David…
“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed…”
When it comes to my mother, it’s very difficult for me to see how someone so young, with so many years ahead, could have possibly fulfilled her purpose already. However, I’m not God and I don’t know. I have to trust Him. One thing I do know: I’m still here, and I’m NOT done.
God is chasing me, at this very moment, at a rapid pace. I’ve never felt Him fighting for me the way I feel He’s fighting now. This means I cannot stop doing what He ordained me to do. Do you remember when Jeremiah was so tired of his tasks that he was ready to quit? He quickly had a revelation.
“But if I say, “I will not mention His Word or speak anymore in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”
I’m surrounded in tragedy, and yet, I can feel the fire of God in my bones. My emotions might be running wild but God is reining and ruling and reviving the truth in me. That truth will set me free from what I feel and knit me close to what I know. He is alive and active in my healing.
He’s chasing you, too. He’s alive and active in your healing, too.
As we celebrate Christmas, I think it’s important for all of us who are grieving to refocus our hearts and minds. Christmas is not about who is missing, it’s about who has come: Jesus.
As much as my mother loved me, and she loved me with the best kind of love, she did not hold the power to save me. Christ, the One who came, saved my soul and made me free.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
This Christmas, may you be conscious of the wild pursuit over your life. There is a chase in progress made to fan the flame within you, setting you free to live purpose in a way only you can.
Week Sixteen Study Overview: It’s our final week studying Job! We will discuss chapter 42, talk about repentance, friendship and promise inside pain.
Key Point of Struggle: How do we truly see God in our situations without a “whirlwind moment?”
Key Proof of Comfort: Hebrews 11:1
Well, we made it! Throughout this sixteen weeks of studying Job, my world turned upside down, but the most precious thing remained: God. My relationship with Him is built on a solid foundation, and when the wind whipped, not even losing my sweet, baby brother shook it. That’s not to say life is easy, and it’s not to convey I go to bed every night tear free, because I don’t. Two nights ago, I cried myself to sleep so hard the bed shook, but I persevere because I believe my God has a plan.
Until Job’s “whirlwind moment,” he was having a terrible time trying to make sense of his situation. His questioning had started to cross the line, and his eyes were drifting from trusting God to defending his character. At one time or another, we all seem to have that problem. Things fall apart and we immediately become caught up in our defense of the matter. In my own life, I’m really working hard on allowing God to be my defender. He’s the only One who sees the complete truth in every heart and circumstance.
However, what if the “whirlwind” never comes? What if we don’t have the view of God we need in order to make sense of our circumstances? I believe, and we’ve talked about this in previous weeks, that we need to abruptly halt trying to make sense of our situations when we’ve gone more than our fair share of time with no answers. At that point, trust becomes our faithful companion.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
We hope for answers, and we pray for a favorable end to our trial, but it’s faith that takes us each new step. It’s not in what we see; it’s in what we don’t see. It’s not in where we are right now, it’s in where we are going. In the book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis talks about pressing onto the next country. With everything in me I want to make my days count here on earth, but I’m striving for my eternity with Jesus. Every decision I make here hinges on my relationship with God, which leads to my forever with Him.
Do you remember that line from the movie Sleepless in Seattle where Tom Hanks’ character is discussing how he faces the days after his wife’s death? He said, “Well, I’m gonna get out of bed every morning… breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out… and, then after a while, I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.” Did you know the apostle Paul had a similar school of thought with one difference? He said, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (See Philippians 3:12-14)
We press on in life. The movie Sleepless in Seattle is a good reminder of what some of us face, and it shows us the importance of pressing on. But it’s not about pressing on for merely what we have here, but for what we have in eternity. Paul talked about forgetting those things behind and reaching for what is ahead. I’m not in any way suggesting that I will ever forget my brother. I won’t. I can’t. I refuse. But I can let go of the deep wounds. I can do it through strength in Christ. I can hide inside Him and He will right wrongs. With everything in me I believe this! Life goes fast. We can’t live it trying to defend ourselves and then use excuses to not serve Christ anymore. People will fail, heartbreak will happen, but God remains faithful. Job learned this.
I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of yours can be withheld from You.
This begins what I like to call Job’s mirror moment. He got a good look at himself compared to God and realized in the scheme of things, he was so small. That’s the super cool thing about learning our significance in Christ. Yes, we are small, but He loves us so much. His love was evident in the restoration of Job’s life. We will get to that in a minute. First, let’s take a look at his friends. In Job 42:7-8, God lets the friends know He was angry. He then gives them a command and told them that after they completed their task, Job would pray for them. They did what God told them to do. God restored Job, but here’s the amazing part: After Job prayed for his friends, he was doubly restored.
And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.
When Job had a clear view of God’s righteousness, he forgot about the awful way his friends had treated him, and did what was right in the eyes of God. God rewarded him for it.
We don’t always see significant change right away, but I believe God always blesses us for doing right. It might not be in the way we think, but he always comes through. There is promise in pain! There is promise for your life. May you see it each and every day!
Thank you for studying with me, friends! Join me on this Friday’s Word for Your Weekend when I announce our study for the month of November! There are some big changes happening here!
Week Fifteen Study Overview: Today is the day we’ve been waiting for! We will study Job chapters 38-41, and finally hear God’s response to Job’s lamenting!
Key Point of Struggle: How do we handle ourselves when conviction finally arises?
Key Proof of Comfort: Job 41:11
Last week, we learned that Job’s three friends stopped responding to him. Job made one final plea, but after his words were finished, a man named Elihu walked on the scene choosing to make the most out of this moment of silence in hopes of sneaking his opinions and mixed theology into the conversation. After his lectures are finished, it’s as if Elihu was never there. In fact, we never hear another word about him. Chapter 38 begins with a mighty wind.
I picture God watching every detail through Job’s suffering, hearing every word he prayed, and listening to every argument between Job and his three friends… until He couldn’t allow one more second to pass without setting Job straight.
We know that Job did nothing to cause his suffering, but he did feel as if God was absent throughout his affliction. With every breath in his body he made his feelings well known about the Almighty’s presence leaving him. Job acted as if God picked up every ounce of favor He ever bestowed on his life and left without looking back.
God never leaves.
If you’ve ever felt that way, or feel that way right now, I need you to know that God does not leave anything He created. Friend, He created you! You aren’t alone. (See Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5)
However, it can feel that way at times. Job definitely started to rely on feeling as if God was absent. And so God did what only God can do… He showed up in a way that Job could never deny.
When I start to read chapter 38, it’s as if I’m there. I picture a strong wind swirling, and a thunderous voice booming as God quickly calls everything and everyone into order. I can almost see Job drop to his knees in awe of this majestic God who was breathing life back into him through that very same whirlwind and a barrage of questions.
My favorite question comes in Job 38:4…
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding…”
God pours out question after question, but this is the one that keeps me shaking in my boots. When it comes to my own life, the truth is I wasn’t anything until He said I was, and Job wasn’t anything until He said Job was. We have no understanding of why certain situations turn out the way they do, because we have no control.
We aren’t the Creator, we are simply the created. (And yet we are so precious to Him.)
Chapters 38-40 give us glimpses into the creation story and make us more aware than ever that we must learn to be fully dependent on the One who holds everything together.
He has a perfect order and it’s not for us to understand it, it’s for us to serve Him throughout it.
None of us want to live inside sorrow, but I believe there is purpose inside every circumstance we will ever face. There is purpose in our pain. We might not ever understand it this side of heaven, but it’s never for nothing.
In Job 40, we have a chance to hear Job respond:
“Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You?”
Sometimes God gives revelation and opens ears to what hearts are finally ready to hear. Throughout, the process of conviction comes swiftly, but it’s not meant to make room for condemnation to grow. Instead, it’s meant to create a further dependency on who this great God and Father is to us, and the direction He has for our lives. It teaches us trust, how to wholly repent, and grow in holiness.
Our comfort comes through the following verse:
“…Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is Mine.”
EVERYTHING under heaven is mine! That means we belong to Him, there is nothing under heaven that doesn’t belong to Him. There is no greater comfort. We belong to the God of the universe. We belong.
Next week, we will finally arrive at the conclusion of our There is Promise in Pain study. I’ve learned so much through these last few months, and I hope you have as well. This Friday, in our #WordforYourWeekend subscriber only content, I’m going to talk about my “God in the whirlwind moment.”
PS: I have a guest post on Jeremy and Audrey Roloff's blog: Beating 50 Percent! I would love for you to click over there and give it a read!