It’s not hard to scroll through social media and see the pain behind the posts of people who long to have someone acknowledge what they truly feel with just a hint of understanding. The world has convinced many of us that we are a failure for not pulling off the Brady Bunch happy family, working out every problem in less than thirty minutes while keeping a genuine smile on our faces. Social media skips over reality to equate filter enhanced selfies to good and good is equated to enough. That is a lie from the pit of hell. I’m so thankful that God deems me “good enough” because He sees me through His Son and not based on anything I can do or say. Whew! I would be in trouble if it was left up to me.
There is an appropriate time and place to share with the right people, but nothing good comes from mastering the happy selfie persona while hiding that we are falling apart inside, especially not from God. He does not expect this from us! I believe He longs for us to climb up in His lap and tell him, our Daddy, whats wrong. Real friends should not expect us to “hold it all together” all the time, and family should be a refuge, a judgement free zone, where we can be real with our smeared mascara, second day pajama pants, and bird’s nest hair. But, too often this is not the case. Some of the hottest flaming arrows are shot from the bows of people we wish we could trust and sometimes, there is no understanding why. We live in a fallen world. Bad things happen to good people. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. But I’ve learned that God does not waste our pain. He is faithful!
This is what I love about God’s servant, Job. He was not afraid to cry out in frustration and express how he felt. He was raw, exposed, and honest before God. He held nothing back, cursing even the day he was born. But He never blamed God. He never gave up on God. And he made a bullseye observation in stating, “Will we accept good at the hand of God and will we not accept bad” (Job 2:10)? I love that God is Sovereign! I rest in that fact often, especially when the world feels cruel and unfair. It helps me to remember that nothing can come to me without passing through the hand of God first. That brings me so much peace!! It doesn’t always feel good, sometimes I have to set my face like flint and just put one foot in front of the other. But on the other side, praise God! When I am obedient, He works it for my good and I end up in a spacious new place with fresh air to breathe and a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father.
Psalm 34:18 says, “The righteous cry out and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles” (ONMB). If this promise was a movie title it might read “The Endless Rescue.” We have hope in the time of trouble because we can depend on our faithful God to rescue us when we call on Him. There is a qualifier to this verse. It is not for everyone, it is for the righteous. But praise God! We are all invited to become the righteous in Christ. Jesus died for all of us and there is nothing we have to do to be good enough for that! He meets us where we are, beaten, bruised, and sometimes on emotional life support from the trials of this life. The Bible says that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Goodness, I’m so thankful that it only takes a decision to invite Jesus to be Lord of my life. If there was the prerequisite of cleaning myself up before coming to Him, I’d never of made it! He met me in a pit. A deep pit, lined with self-loathing, misery, and a whole lot of sin.
We can all relate to Job in our own way, and it’s not the suffering that bothers us so much, it’s the unfair suffering. Charles Swindoll points out four principles found in the story of Job, in his book A Man of Heroic endurance JOB.
1. There is an enemy we encounter we cannot see . . . but he is real. This Accuser’s desire is to ruin your testimony as he destroys your life.
2. There are trials that we endure that we do not deserve, but they are permitted. “In the mystery of God’s unfathomable will, we can never explain or fully understand. Do not try to grasp each thread of His profound plan…Accept it. Endure the trial that has been permitted by God. Nothing touches your life that has not first passed through the hands of God. He is in full control and because He is, He has the sovereign right to permit trials that we do not deserve” (Swindoll, p.12, 2004).
3. There is a plan we explore we will not understand, but it is best. Rest in knowing that our Heavenly Father knows best.
4. There are consequences we experience, we could not anticipate, but they are necessary for our spiritual growth.
“The silence of God’s voice will make you wonder if He is even there. And the absence of God’s presence will make you wonder if He even cares. He is. And He does.” (Swindoll, p. 13, 2004).
The Bible study of Job that I am currently participating in, JOB. A STORY OF UNLIKELY JOY by Lisa Harper and the above book by Charles Swindoll give us a powerful look at the details we can glean about our Holy, Sovereign God and how we can find unlikely joy in the middle of our worst pain. I highly recommend them both. They make me want to love Him more, seek Him more, and trust Him more. If you are hungry for more of God, this is a great, although seemingly unlikely, place to find Him!