How do we respond when bad things happen? Whether we articulate it or not, we either make the choice to curse God, or bless God. If we blame God or push him away, we are denying his grace, and essentially cursing God and his plan. If we embrace God and depend on him, we are accepting his grace and essentially blessing God and his plan. That might sound a little simple and black and white, but it’s the basic story.
We inherently know that God knows what’s best for us. So why do we sometimes question God?
I can’t share all the details of Job’s story in this short post, but when you’re able, I would encourage you to read all 42 chapters of Job. Listen to his heart, it will inspire and challenge you.
If we embrace God & depend on him, we are accepting his grace & essentially blessing God. Click To TweetJob was a blameless and upright man who was blessed beyond measure. He had ten children, a wife and thousands of animals with servants to care for them. In fact, scripture says he was “the greatest of all the people of the east” (Job 1:3). That snapshot was about to change.
God offered Satan a chance to witness how strong Job’s faith actually was. Satan told God:
“…You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (Job 1:11-12)
God gave him permission to do anything, but take his life. Job lost all of his possessions, all his servants, and all ten children. On top of that, he was burdened with sores all over his body.
Job had a choice to make: to curse God or bless God. Even though is wife was encouraging him to curse God and run (2:9), Job’s response to God was painful, yet full of blessing:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
Powerful words after losing every blessing he had. Was he heartless? No, he grieved the loss of his children (1:20). Did he push God away? No, his focus made him stronger and his faith truly showcased God’s grace.
Why did Job lose everything?
We don’t cause our #pain, but we chose to allow God to use our pain for his Glory. Click To TweetThis journey has a lot to do with our free-will and God’s desire to display his greatness through us. Job’s friends essentially told him that his past sin was the reason he was in so much pain (Job 4; 8; 11). We already know Job was “blameless and upright” so we know this can’t be true. So why did Job suffer?
Jesus spoke some clarity on this. The disciples saw a blind man and asked:
2 “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:2-3)
Our free-will gives us the ability to surrender our lives to God. We don’t cause our pain, but we chose to allow God to use our pain for his Glory. When we freely chose God, we express true love for God.
How should we respond to pain?
When others are going through pain, we can learn from Job’s friends. We need to show sympathy, mourn with them, and spend time with them (2:11-13). That’s enough. Give them support and share in their pain. Paul wrote, “If one member suffers, all suffer together…” (1 Cor 12:26). Our goal is to support each other, not to explain why we’re in pain and/or how to stop it.
When we respond to our own pain, we have to remember that there’s nothing we’ve done to cause the experience. God is not angry with us. We are all broken people, and because of the fall of man (Adam and Eve), we’ll experience pain until heaven. So in our pain we respond with sadness, mourning, worship and blessing (Job 1:20-21).
What can we expect on the other side of pain?
God is faithful, but the goal isn’t “something better”. We’re too quick to think of Job’s later “double blessing” and slow to reflect on the here and now. When Job chose to remain faithful to God, he had no idea of his future blessing. His response was, “Why NOT me? What makes me so special that I would not experience hardship?” (Job 2:10)1
The story of #maturity is often much different than the story of today. #pain #hope Click To TweetSo the goal is not to receive a future blessing; the goal is to display our faith more authentically. That authenticity leads to maturity – how God prepares and shapes us.2 That also means that the picture on the other side of our pain will probably look completely different than expected.
In the end, Job received double of everything he once had (Job 42:12f). If the pattern continued, however, we would think Job would be blessed with 20 children. The reality is, his first ten children would be reunited in eternity and his new blessing included ten more.3 Job’s children were never replaced, instead he was blessed with ten more. The story of maturity is often much different than the story of today.
For the last 50 years, Vaden has struggled with depression. Along that journey he helped lead his family through his daughter’s teenage pregnancy, the sudden loss of his fifteen year-old son, and watched as cancer took his first wife.
Life was far from prefect, as Vaden continues to say today, but seeing God’s grace through his family, and fellow believers, helped him keep his focus on God. While often a challenge to do, he chose to bless God, not curse God. As a result, his pain brought him closer to God, and stronger in the faith.
Part of Vaden’s story (22:51), along with the biblical account of Job can be found here:
How do you respond to pain? I would love to hear your stories; comment below.
References [ + ]
|1.||⇑||My paraphrase of Job 2:10.|
|2.||⇑||James 1:2-4 describes our maturity and how pain plays a vital role.|
|3.||⇑||Alden, R. L., Job, vol. 11 (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 413.|