October 19, 2010
So This is What "Hard" Feels Like
"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth."
Job 19:25 (NIV)
Do you know what "hard" feels like? I'm not talking about the feel of stone by a river, or concrete under your feet. I'm talking emotionally hard … spiritually hard. The kind of hard that makes you want to give up, go back to bed or slip into some sort of temporary abandonment of reality.
Do you know the kind of hard that makes you question everything you know, or thought you knew, about God?
The book of Job in the Old Testament tells the story of someone who knew hard. It's surely one of the most difficult to read because God removed His hand of protection and allowed all the pain that Job experienced. In fact, God even pointed Job out to Satan as blameless, which Satan twisted into a challenge to bring Job down.
Confident in Job, God allowed the testing. So one by one, Satan destroyed that which was dear to Job: his family, health and possessions. Then, just when you think it couldn't get any worse, Job's wife and friends step in to "help" with the most unhelpful advice. Job is beset on all sides, and at times he is ready to give up, even asking God to "crush" him and relieve him of misery.
Job was a good and honest man. A man of high integrity, He didn't deserve the hard times he experienced. Yet, in spite of unrelenting agony, Job battled to hold on to truth - truth about his feelings and truth about God. In spite of confusion and questions, Job refused to curse God. Though Job didn't understand why he was suffering, he chose to walk in honesty and integrity, believing God would bring something good out if it.
Job faced "hard" head on. He wobbled a bit, but then planted his feet and steadfastly held on to faith that his God who had never abandoned him before, would not do so now. No matter what he lost, and who abandoned him, Job knew God would always be with him. His emotions may have pulled a bit on this, but Job kept steering back to center. Job faced "hard" well.
To declare his faith, Job spoke words that echo through generations, off the lips of saints of old and suffering saints today: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth."
Job's story has a happy ending. After passing the testing, the Bible says, "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first" (Job 42:12a, NIV). Although Job had to go through the hard times, and there were no easy answers, the Lord never abandoned him, and had a reward on the other side.
The good news is Job's story can be ours. Not that we would wish such catastrophe on ourselves, but we all face our own "hard." And Job's Redeemer is our Redeemer. If you are facing something hard today, Job's story can bring you comfort and hope, for our Redeemer lives!
Dear Lord, I praise You for being the same regardless of what I am going through. There is nothing that is outside Your control. Help me to suffer well, and to guard my lips against any falsehood. Turn my face toward You when I can't lift it myself. I choose to trust You today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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List attributes of God that you know will never change.
Keep this list handy the next time you face trouble.
What are some characteristics of a person who faces "hard" well?
What are some good daily practices when one is undergoing difficult times?
Job 13:15-16a, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance" (NIV)
Job 42:12, "The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first." (NIV)
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