Then Job arose, and rent his mantle and shaved his head, and fell upon the ground and worshiped, and said, "Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked I shall return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Job 1:20-22
Job is not a role model most people would choose. It's too frightening to pick him, to ask God to make you more like him. What if God sends you challenges like Job's to help you develop character? No thank you.
Job is a man for whom everything has gone right. Right at the beginning of the book he is described as being "blameless and upright", he "feared God and shunned evil." He had a large family and was prosperous. People respected him. He was worried about his children but, overall, his life was pretty good.
Then Satan gets up to his wily ways and God allows him to make Job's life difficult. In a fairly short period of time, Job's experiences significant, devastating financial losses and his children are all killed. Now, Satan is betting that Job will turn his back on God because of these tragic events. But what does Job say? "Blessed be the name of the Lord." He acknowledges that he came into this world with nothing, that he will leave this world with nothing and that everything he has in the mean time is a gift from God.
My favorite part? "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly."
This is where Job is my role model. Many times have I taken God's gifts for granted and when they are taken away from me, I lash out in anger, grieving God with my sin and my lack of faith in Him.
It's hard to talk about participating in the sufferings of Christ. No matter how difficult my circumstances have been, there is no comparison to the suffering that Jesus joyfully experienced, all for me. My suffering is but a hangnail compared to His.
But there is something precious about suffering. My suffering causes me to seek Him more fully, to be more open to His prompting and work in my life. This does not always happen right away. Sometimes I run from Him, run from truly experiencing the pain. But ultimately He draws me to Him, loving me through the most difficult times.
This past weekend I attended a wedding. I know that's not what you expected to read. Here I've been talking about suffering and now I bring up a wedding. But this weekend's wedding was the most painful I've ever attended.
You see, this weekend my sister's husband got remarried. It wasn't so long ago, just 14 short years, that I watched him promise to love my sister until death parted them. And he honored that promise. He loved her beautifully until, and even after, the cold winter day when she lost her life. I couldn't love him more for the way that he loved her. And I am so happy that he has found this new love and happiness. I am happy for him. I am happy for my nieces. It even makes me proud of my sister, because her husband's desire to love and commit this second time shows me that she loved him well. So, yes, it was a joyful wedding.
But, oh, how painful as well. Underneath my smiles were tears. Tears for all we have lost. Grief for the grandchildren my sister will never hold, grandchildren that will be loved by this new wife. Sadness for all the plans we made and never accomplished. I missed my sister. I miss her every day. Even on her husband's wedding day.
And then God whispered to my heart. Daughter, do you see how I am grieved when you choose a different way? When you ignore the plans I have for you in favor of your own imperfect way?
That is suffering.
I am reminded of the words of the Psalmist:
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. Psalm 42:1
I long for you, God. Not my sister. Not another day. Not my own desires. I long for you.
|Deer in our yard. We counted 16 that evening.|