By Allen White
His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" Job 2:9
The difference between Job and us is that Job lost everything all at once: his family, his wealth, his health. You and I will also lose all of these things, but over a longer period of time. (This gets better. Don’t stop reading now.)
Suffering is not a fun topic, but it’s certainly a part of life. In fact, suffering is so costly to us, we need to grow from our suffering rather than just suffer for no good reason at all.
Life is a series of loses. We start out with great expectations, but often we lose some of those dreams. We suffer. We begin life with parents who love us, care for us, and meet our needs. Over time, we care for our parents, and then we lose them. These aren’t happy thoughts, but they are real.
In fact, out of everything that we have and everyone we know there is only one relationship that endures – our relationship with God. God is always with us. God shares in the “fellowship of suffering” (Philippians 3:10).
The Bible tells us, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13). At this point, you may be thinking that this is not what you signed up for. But, here’s the reality, with Christ or without Christ, everyone suffers. If we can learn to suffer well, then we will develop Christ-like character and a sensitivity to others that we’ve never had before.
This is not a popular message, but it is a necessary message. So often when people suffer, they think that God is mad at them or that they are being punished for something that they’ve done. If you have trusted Christ for your salvation, then all of the punishment for your sin has been erased (Romans 4:7-8). That’s not what suffering is about.
Here’s the big question: If you lost everything except for God, would He be enough? Job had plenty of reasons to curse. He was under an unreasonable amount of pressure. There was little reason to be happy. Maybe there was little reason to trust God at that point. Yet, Job chose to trust. The end result was “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first” (Job 42:12-17). The reward, however, was not only material.
I believe that Job’s greatest blessing was the realization that sometimes things happen without a logical explanation. No one is at fault. There is no one to blame. Forty chapters of the book of Job exhaust every possible explanation. Job concludes, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).
How are you suffering today? How is God working to develop your character? How are you learning to trust God more deeply?
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