An Even-If Heart: Thoughts On Job 13

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If anything, digging into Job is inspiring me to be a better friend.

I don’t want to be the kind of friend that blows hot air when a hurting friend needs a breath of fresh.

I want to whisper words of hope.

Because that’s what Job needed and it’s what he was desperately clinging to, even if his friends weren’t delivering.

I catch glimpses of it.

It breaks forth like so much promise.

In Job 13, Job defends himself to his friends.

He starts off getting in their faces and I’ve gone from wanting to slap them to applauding Job’s fighting spirit.

‘Cause it’s still in there!

It’s not completely lost in self pity.

It’s not totally hidden beneath self loathing.

It’s not entirely overshadowed by despair.

It’s still there.

And it’s coming on strong,

“Everything you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. Yet I prefer to speak to the Almighty and argue my case before God…If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom.” vs. 3-4 (CSB)

You go, Job!

Sometimes we need to tell certain people who may mean well or who insist on giving us their two-cents worth without us asking for it to, Shut up.

Or as any good mother who desires to teach her child good manners would say,  Please be quiet.

I know there have been times when I’ve just not known when to shut my mouth.

I look back on some of the things I’ve said to others in their times of need and distress and I’ve actually been ashamed of myself.

I’ve even been convicted enough to apologize.

Because I also remember what it’s been like to be on the receiving end of speeches meant to inspire me, yet have incensed me instead.

They’ve made me like a smoldering wick. Ready to spout fumes.

Maybe that’s what happened to Job.

Something inside him ignited.

Yes. Deep down. Job was a fighter.

It’s that fighting spirit that clings to hope.

Job was really an even-if-kinda-guy.

“Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him. I will still defend my ways before Him.”

Even if He kills me…

I.WILL.HOPE.IN.HIM.

Job wasn’t placing his hope in his friends. Or his faithless wife.

His hope was in God Himself. 

Can you say the same?

These are uncertain times we’re living in.

As a nation, we’ve not really been this way before in our lifetimes.

Not all of us are responding the same. Not all of us are on the same page. Not all of us feel the same. Act the same. Process the same.

But in the name of heaven, those who place their hope in God Himself need to pay attention to what those around us are really feeling and saying.

The NLT translation of Job 13:3-4 is this:

“Oh, how I long to speak directly to the Almighty. I want to argue my case with God Himself. For you are smearing me with lies…That’s the smartest thing you could do. LISTEN to my charge: PAY ATTENTION to my arguments.” 

As a friend, I want to pay attention and learn to listen with my heart.

When I do, I can respond in a way the Holy Spirit leads. Honestly? There have been times when all I’ve known to do is wrap my arms around someone and say with tears, “I’m so sorry. I’m just so sorry. I’m just so very sorry.”

But Job didn’t get that from his friends. Somehow, from within that deep, dark place where his sanity was threatened, hope arose like a shining star.

Like Daniel’s Shadrach, Meshaq, and Abednego, Job had an even-if heart.

The 3 Hebrew exiles had told King Nebuchadnezzar,

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if He doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”  Daniel 3:16-18 

Job pretty much felt the same way.

This is what an even-if heart does.

The only hope it has when faced with the fiery furnace or the trials of life or the uncertainties of economic strain or viral pandemics is to know that no matter the outcome–complete deliverance or taking that final breath–God is still God and He is still worth every ounce of hope that flows through our veins.

This is a hope that revives the weary.

Comforts the anxious.

Promises the victory.

When troubles and misfortunes threaten to steal hope away, an even-if heart gives a steely resolve.

It endures the fiery furnace.

Outlives trials and hardships.

Outlasts viral pandemics.

It’s what faith in God does for us.

It’s what Jesus died to give us.

Hope that life on this earth is not all there is.

There’s more.

Because of the saving grace of Christ through His death and resurrection, I have an eternity with Him to look forward to. This is my hope.

And it’s worth fighting for in the here and now.

In these days on the kingdom calendar, this is a season of hard things for many.

If we say nothing else, let’s be the kind of friend who whispers words of hope.

Who breathe fresh air into the lungs of those who are struggling.

Who know when to speak and when to be silent.

Who rise up and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.

Let’s say to one another,

I know you.

Deep down, you’re a fighter. And this will not defeat you.

So you can count on me.

I will encourage you.

I will walk beside you.

I will even hold your hand.

And you can bet, I will pray for you. 

 

 

Faith, Faith Journey, Faith Walk, Faithful Followers, Strength for the Weary, Encourage One Another, Speak Peace, Speak Hope, Hope in Christ, Hope in God,

The God Who Gets Me: Thoughts On Job 11 & 12

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In Job chapters 11-12, Job’s friend, Zophar, gives his first ‘speech’ and Job answers.

As I dig into Job I find my emotions on a crazy rollercoaster ride. They’re seriously all over the place.

Zophar makes me a little angry. I think he sounds self-righteous. And I want to give him a piece of my mind which is crazy because he’s no longer living.

To give him a little credit, he did say some truthful things like:

“Can you fathom the depths of God or discover the limits of the Almighty?”

That’s the kind of question that will get in your face and put you in your place.

At least it does me. The answer that bubbles up inside of me is a resounding NO. I can’t. God is in His heaven looking down on all that He’s created and to Him? Well…I am very small and meek and completely at His mercy.

But then Zophar has to go and ruin it by saying,

“As for you, if you redirect your heart and spread your hands in prayer–if there is iniquity in your hand, remove it…then you will hold your head high, free from fault…for you will forget your suffering.”

And the human, fleshly side of me wants to slap him.

He should have stopped talking after he asked the question.

Because how in the world could he think Job could ever forget the suffering he was living out? A suffering that Zophar couldn’t even begin to understand because he wasn’t.

I f-e-e-e-e-e-e-l so for Job. Yes, that’s present tense.

His friends just didn’t get him.

But I’m reminded that when no one else gets it, when they might not understand why I still cry out to God…

when they don’t even come close to saying what I really need to hear…

God gets it.

Because God gets me.

I’ll never forget the time I went into Sheetz for a cup of coffee while my husband waited in the car.

I ordered my usual frou-frou melted candy bar from the kiosk, as my husband calls my java choices, swiped my ticket from the machine, and got in line behind a man waiting for the next available cashier.

When he moved up to the counter I stepped forward and within seconds, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to face a 20-something young man who asked, “Are you with that man?”

“No,” I replied, “Why?”

That’s when he lit in on me like a firecracker. “I was standing right here. You cut right in front of me. I was next in line. I thought you were with that man so I didn’t say anything, but you need to wait your turn.” And on and on and on…

I was so humiliated all I could do was apologize all over myself. I thought about groveling, even getting on my  knees, but what I really wanted to do was cry. I was so upset I couldn’t form the words to tell Him I was hearing impaired and blind in one eye.

This man had been on my left side so I didn’t see him in my peripheral vision and I didn’t hear him moving around, either. I guess he was camouflaged by the coffee bar so he could have been a gigantic vanilla latte for all I knew. For pity’s sake, whatever happened to kindness and respect, anyway?!

When I got back to the car I couldn’t even tell my husband what had happened I was so upset. Those old feelings of shame and guilt I had struggled with as a child because of my disabilities–believe me, there really are a lot of clueless people in this world–washed over me and threatened to steal the breath right out of me.

I beat myself up all day long. Why didn’t I stick up for myself? Why didn’t I have the courage to speak up about my disabilities?

It wasn’t until the end of the day that God opened the eyes of my heart to see it wouldn’t have made one bit of difference to this young man whether I was partially blind or severely hearing impaired. He was clueless in the strongest sense of the word.

Trying to explain myself to this young man would have been foolish. I would have felt even worse if I had tried to make him understand and he still didn’t get it.

To be rejected and ridiculed for being physically impaired is cruel. It makes my heart hurt just thinking about it. I have tears pooling in my eyes as I write because there are people like this in the world. I may experience a small taste of it from time to time, but I know there are others who face this kind of ridicule ever day of their lives. And there are people who actually think they’ve done something bad or wrong to deserve their suffering. People who think God is punishing them. I’ve heard it more often than you can imagine.

But I know the Truth.

I know God gets me when no one else does.

I can cry out to Him because I know He hears me. He understands. He hurts when I hurt and weeps when I weep. He feels deeply the pain in my heart.

Just as Job acknowledged in response to Zophar,

“The life of every living thing is in His hand, as well as the breath of all mankind,” 

I acknowledge this Truth, too.

I know I’m still living and breathing on this earth only because God gives me breath.

My life is in His hands.

Just as Job declared,

“Wisdom and strength belong to God; counsel and understanding are His,”

I, too, believe.

I didn’t ask for that rock to fly out from under the lawnmower and crush my eye when I was just a little girl. I didn’t ask to be born with degenerative hearing loss. In all my years of living I’ve never met one single person who lives with these same disabilities in that exact combination. I’m sure they’re out there, but I’ve never met them. Which would make it real easy for me to say to anyone in my little part of the world, “You just don’t understand. You’re not living this.”

And Job didn’t ask for the Sabeans to raid him, steal all his animals and kill his farmhands. He didn’t ask for the fire to fall from heaven and burn up all his sheep and shepherds. He didn’t ask for the Chaldean raiders to steal his camels and kill his servants. He didn’t ask for a powerful wind to sweep in and collapse the house where all his children were eating together, killing them all. He didn’t ask to be struck with painful boils from head to toe.

In all honesty, his friends just didn’t get it. They weren’t living it.

We don’t ask for suffering to come to us, but it does. It’s the price we pay for living in a fallen world.

And friends are not always going to understand what you’re going through. They may share your burden. They may hurt for you. They may pray for you. But they may not always say the right thing. Sometimes they may disappoint you.

Give them grace.

Not a slap across the face.

Because in those times when my friends may not get my heart, I know God is really the One with all the answers, anyway.

And He will never disappoint.

He will say exactly what I need to hear.

His Word never fails to minister to me in my greatest need.

His Presence never fails to strengthen me in my weakest moments.

And in suffering.

When the grief is real.

He knows I may not be able to forget it, but I can live through it.

Because He Himself breathes for me.

There’s a reason why God allowed that rock to steal my eye. There’s a reason why I lose more hearing with every passing year. And it isn’t really about me. Not really.

I’ve found that each day God gives me breath is just one more day I can live out my faith and declare that even though this is a hearing-seeing world and I don’t hear and see like most people around me, when I cling to Him and cry out to Him He gives me all I need.

Sometimes I have to just stop talking, go back to that question and let it get in my face,

“Can you fathom the depths of God or discover the limits of the Almighty?”

and answer it with Truth,

“Wisdom and strength belong to Him, counsel and understanding are His.” 

I don’t have to figure out the Why’s.

But I can live with the Know’s.

I know God is still in His heaven.

And He’s looking down on all that He’s created.

That’s me.

That’s you.

I am still small and meek and completely at His mercy.

He gets me.

And when no one else does, that’s such a blessed thing to know.

 

 

Faith, Faith Journey, Faith Walk, Faithful Followers, Grace Sufficient, The Suffering Of Job, When Bad Things Happen, God Gives Life, God Gives Breath, The Life-Giver

When Telling God How You Really Feel Is Okay: Thoughts On Job 8-10

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Poor Job.

He went from praising to protesting the longer he suffered.

After all, how much physical and emotional pain and discomfort can one person endure when it seems it just goes on and on and on?

No end in sight.

No relief.

No answer from the Lord.

No real encouragement from family and friends.

It can begin to feel pretty hopeless.

Like, what’s the point of living? What’s the purpose of it all?

That kind of hopeless.

I guess you could say Job had just had enough.

So he protested.

He was bitter and who could blame him?

But you know what encourages me most?

Job still talked to God.

He still acknowledged his Creator.

If Job couldn’t take his bitterness to the One who gave him breath and formed him with His own hands, then WHO?!? I ask you.

Life is so unfair sometimes.

Bad things happen to good people. This is a heartbreaking fact.

My husband lost his baby brother to heart disease.

My friend lost her house and all she owned to fire.

My father lost a kidney to cancer.

I lost an eye to a rock and a lawn mower.

Job lost it all. All but a contentious wife and unsympathetic friends.

And his very breath.

There’s a season of grief we have to wade through sometimes in this life. Hard things we have to process. Loss of what’s precious we have to let go.

It’s not always a pretty picture.

There may be ugly emotions that rear their heads like anger, resentment, bitterness. Emotions that make our world turn awful dark.

But God knows the heart and He doesn’t want us to stay stuck in those dark places.

And if He knows us so well then He already knows what we’re feeling before we even say it. Releasing it all to Him helps us through the process.

I’ve found in my own experiences that when I’m honest with God about what I’m feeling in the deep, dark places of my heart–when I hold nothing back; the good, the bad, the ugly–I have confidence knowing that even though I may not always feel Him, I know He’s there. And He’s listening.

This knowledge comes to me like a healing balm.

I can take it all to Him knowing He will never turn His back on me no matter how ugly it looks when I pour out my heart.

I think one of the reasons Job could protest, one of the reasons he still talked to God even in his worst grief, was because he knew deep down the only way any of it could make any sense or have any meaning at all was because of Him.

There’s this quote from a popular TV show I used to love that I’ve had tucked away on a post-it note forever:

“Good things happen, bad things happen, inexplicable things happen. But if you give good luck the credit or bad luck the blame you’re not giving God the chance to give them meaning.” -Monica, Touched By An Angel

In Job’s darkest hours, God was his only hope.

He spoke out of a bitter heart.

But he spoke to a purer Heart…

“For God is so wise and so mighty. Who has ever challenged Him successfully?” 9:4

“His great works are too marvelous to understand.” 9:10

“Who am I, that I should try to answer with God or even reason with Him?” 9:14

“God is not mortal like me, so I cannot argue with Him or take Him to trial.” 9:32

“You gave me life and showed me Your unfailing love. My life was preserved by Your care.” 10:12

And therein lies a profound secret…

My life was preserved by Your care.

When all you question about trials, all you fail to understand about hard things, all you resent about the inexplicable in life, you can know what Job knew:

You are still living and breathing because God gives you breath.

He is not done with you yet.

His work in you is not complete.

He has a plan and purpose for your life.

Even in suffering.

Somehow, in all the bitterness and complaining, Job clung to what he knew.

God would continue to give his life meaning.

There would be an end to his suffering.

There would be relief.

There would be an answer from the Lord.

Encouragement from family and friends would come again.

There was hope.

There is always hope.

God wastes nothing.

And your suffering will never be in vain.

 

“But don’t be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” Genesis 45:5

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Roman 8:28

 

Faith, Faith Journey, Faithful Followers, When Bad Things Happen, God Hears, God Sees, God Gives Life

The Truth About Complaining: Thoughts On Job 6 & 7

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“I cannot keep from speaking. I must express my anguish. I must complain in my bitterness.” 

Uh…okaaay.

These words could actually have been mine.

But they aren’t.

They’re Job’s and they’re recorded for us in chapter 7, verse 11.

In my NLT, verse 5 in chapter 6 reads, “Don’t I have a right to complain?”

Uh…yeah. Like I said. This is soooo me.

Job asked this question after he patiently endured his friend’s assessment of his present suffering.

I admit.

I’m a reforming complainer.

I’m not proud of it.

I’m learning to do better. Be better.

To redeem myself, I’d like to think I can say like Job even in the complaining,

“I have not denied the words of the the Holy One.”

I think our personalities have a lot to do with how we respond to trials.

In all honesty, sometimes I just need to vent. This is how my personality is wired.

I just want to release my emotions or express my thoughts.

Sometimes I just want someone to listen and I’m not sure I even want them to respond.

I’m not saying complaining is okay.

It’s not a godly thing.

It can look pretty ugly.

It can hurt people.

Even push them away.

Worse, it can hurt my relationship with God.

Because whining, grumbling, and complaining is just a lack of trust in the Sovereignty of God.

A few years ago, as I was studying for a message I was to speak for a woman’s conference, I found something in Scripture that changed the way I thought of complaining.

So many times we experience toxic emotions because we’ve not been able to make peace with the fact that life hasn’t turned out the way we planned. Whether we’ve been betrayed, treated unfairly, lived through unspeakable acts of cruelty, walked through the fire or survived the flood, we forget that God still wants to get in the midst of it with us.

Because if we don’t let Him help us root out those toxic emotions it carries over, it festers and spreads, to other areas of our lives and we don’t even realize how angry and bitter we’ve become.

I’m sure you remember the story of the miraculous parting of the Red Sea in Exodus.

The Lord delivered His people by parting the waters so they could escape the Egyptians by crossing over on dry land. He parted those waters Himself and allowed every single one of the Israelites to cross over in safety. They saw God close the waters over their enemies and witnessed with their very own eyes the dead bodies on the shore. They sang a beautiful song of praise to the Lord and worshiped Him for His greatness.

But it wasn’t enough for them.

Three measly days later, the Israelites forgot God’s great power.

They came to a place in the wilderness called Marah where the water was so bitter they couldn’t drink it. Marah means bitter and all they could think about was how thirsty they were and how inconvenienced they were. They began grumbling, whining, and complaining against Moses. Instead of remembering what God had done at the Red Sea, they wanted to run back to Egypt…the very symbol of all that was wrong with their lives.

Moses cried out to the Lord on their behalf and God told him to do something very strange. He told Moses to throw a log into the water and miraculously the water became sweet. They were able to drink to their hearts’ content.

So, the Israelites witnessed yet another miracle.

After God gave the Israelites that saving, sweet water at Marah, He led them to a beautiful oasis called Elim, where there were 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees. They camped there by the water and refreshed themselves.

This blows my mind: In spite of their whining and complaining, God still blessed them and what did they do with His blessing?

Exodus 16:1-3 tells us they started whining and grumbling against Moses and Aaron again.

I looked up the Hebrew word for grumbled in my Blue Letter Bible online. It means, to stop (usually over night): by implication, to stay permanently; hence to be obstinate (especially in words), to complain; to abiding (all night), continue, dwell, endure, grudge.

Do you get the picture?!?

I got to thinking…over and over again in Scripture, God calls His people stubborn, rebellious and stiff-necked.

They were never satisfied because they focused more on what was wrong with their lives and not with what was right. And they just plain got stuck there. 

It wasn’t enough that God miraculously delivered them from Egypt–never mind that He had brought all those plagues against their oppressors to prove Himself. It wasn’t enough that He had parted the Red Sea and drowned all their enemies. It wasn’t enough that He had sweetened the water at Marah and given them an oasis at Elim.

There were stuck in their whining, their grumbling, and their complaining. They may have been delivered from the Egyptians, but they were still oppressed by the hardness of their hearts.

That’s what happens when we get stuck in our complaining. We don’t just make ourselves miserable. We make everyone else around us miserable, too.

I’ve seen it in my own life. How my complaining has made the people I love miserable.

It’s toxic. I don’t want to be known as a bitter person. I don’t want to be remembered as a  whiner. I don’t want God to say of me what He said of the Israelites, She’s stubborn, rebellious, stiff-necked. 

I don’t want to forget all the good and wonderful works God has done in my life. I don’t want to question His Sovereignty by dwelling on things that are so far from the truth of Who He is.

And so often, what flies out of my mouth is far from what’s really true, yet…

I so get Job.

“I cannot keep from speaking. I must express my anguish. I must complain in my bitterness.”

Job said it.

I’ve felt it.

The musts.

The need to speak.

Like if I keep it bottled up I’ll just explode!

But I’m letting God change me. Change how I see my circumstances, change how I respond to the bad things that happen in life, change how I relate to God in seasons of hard things.

Because He knows me better than I know myself.

He knows what I need to hear and I don’t want to deny His words.

He speaks truth because He is Truth.

So even though I’m pretty sure my complaining isn’t pleasing to Him, I think He’d rather me vent to Him than someone else.

And you know what? There’s something about taking it all to God that puts me in my place. I may think I have a right to complain, but God is after my heart. He doesn’t want me to get stuck. He doesn’t want me to dwell in misery.

God has this way of revealing the heart of the matter and it’s this: I’ve taken my eyes off Him and I’m not trusting Him to be God.

There is so much more that’s right with my life than what’s wrong. And what’s right is that God has never let me down. He has parted seas for me, sweetened bitter waters, given me rivers in the desert and streams in the wasteland. What He’s done in the past He will do in the present and in the days to come.

Somehow taking it all to Him puts my focus back where it belongs and the truth of who He is will silence my complaints Every. Single.Time.

Uh…okaaay God.

Okay.

 

Faith, Faith Journey, Faithful Followers, Faithful God, God is Trustworthy

How To Be A True Encourager: Thoughts On Job 4 & 5

Encouraging others is something we need more of in this broken, messy world of ours, but it’s not always something we give freely or receive gracefully.

Some of us are gifted encouragers. And I do believe it’s a gift. We know just what to say and how to say it.

Some of us mean well. And I do believe we have the heart. We just don’t always know how to express ourselves well.

And then there are some who just don’t seem to have a clue. Like, are you even on the same planet?

One of the things that I can say about Job’s 3 friends: They came when Job needed them most. They showed up. They wailed loudly, tore their robes, and threw dust in the air over their heads to express their grief over all the terrible things that had happened to their friend.

And then they sat on the ground with Job for 7 days and 7 nights and said not one, single word because they saw Job’s suffering was too great for words.

Gosh. Those are what I call true friends.

But then, Job began to talk. To share his heart. And I guess his friends just didn’t like what was pouring out of his mouth. Instead of hearing a man who was deep in grief and living out an absolute nightmare, they heard a man who didn’t sound anything like the wise friend they’d always known.

I can’t help but wonder…did it frighten them?

Bless their hearts, they had started out so well.

I love that Job’s friend, Eliphaz, saw Job as an encourager.

“In the past you have encouraged many a troubled soul to trust in God; you have supported those who were weak. Your words have strengthened the fallen; you steadied those who wavered.” Job 4:3-4

Job cared about people.

But what happens when the encourager needs encouraging?

It’s just so sad Job’s friends weren’t as gifted at encouraging as Job.

Eliphaz says some really cool things about God that are true,

“He does great works too marvelous to understand…

He performs miracles without number…

He gives rain for the earth…

He gives prosperity to the poor and humble…”

but he didn’t have a lot of sympathy for his friend.

Even though he knew what kind of man Job was he still assumed Job needed correcting.

That all Job’s suffering was because Job had sinned.

While it’s certainly true God will bandage what He wounds, He will heal what He strikes, He will rescue again and again,

He doesn’t attack us the way Satan attacked Job.

Eliphaz wasn’t seeing Job and His circumstances through God’s eyes.

I thought, Hmmmmmm….

Sometimes I may have all the right words, but I’m misguided in my assumptions.

If I’m not mindful, I can be like Eliphaz.

I won’t have eyes to see.

Ears to hear.

A heart to understand.

Truthfully? None of Job’s friends had walked in his shoes.

They couldn’t empathize, but if they’d asked God for a heart like His they could’ve sympathized.

They could’ve spoken from God’s heart instead of their limited understanding.

They would’ve seen what God really saw in Job…a humble, righteous man of complete integrity and they would’ve sought to encourage him the way Job encouraged others.

This is what I hope for…to see the suffering as God sees them.

To look deep.

To encourage a troubled soul.

To support the weak.

To strengthen the fallen.

To steady the wavered.

‘Cause even if I haven’t walked in their shoes, I can have a heart that truly cares.

So can you.

With God’s help, I believe we can all be encouragers. Whether we cry along with a hurting friend or just sit in silence, sometimes our presence is the greatest gift.

But when we open our mouths to speak I believe God can give us words of truth, words to inspire, words to comfort, words to uplift and words to spark courage when needed.

I believe that.

Because it’s a gift.

Straight from the heart of God.

All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Cor 1:3 &4

 

 

Faith, faith journey, faithful followers, grace, mercy, comfort of God, encourage one another, lift one another up, positive words, gift of God, comfort in suffering

The Answer To My Why’s: Thoughts on Job 3

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Why?

Six times in my New Living Translation Bible Job asks, Why?

Why was I not stillborn…

Why did the knees receive me,

and Why were there breasts for me to nurse…

Why was I not hidden like a miscarried child…

Why is light given to one burdened with grief…

Why is life given to a man whose path is hidden…

These were the why’s Job asked, questioning his very existence. His very life.

Who can blame him? He’d lost just about everything but the beat of his heart and the breath in His lungs simply because God chose to preserve his life.

And, my friend, no matter what you’ve lost, no matter what you’re going through, if you’re drawing breath then you can believe God still has a purpose for you on this earth. You may not know what it is right now, but God never abandons the work of His hands. He will not leave you in your hard forever. 

I’ve heard Christians say we shouldn’t ask God why. It’s a lack of trust in His Sovereignty.

Just to let you know, I’m not sure I agree.

Maybe it is a lack of trust, or unbelief, but I’m a very human, very frail, very imperfect person.

Not to mention I’m very emotional, too. I’d like to call it passion, but…(that’s a why for another day.)

Still, I’m not afraid to ask God the why’s. I may not always get an answer, but sometimes life is just hard. Or plain not fair. It’s in seasons of hard things we can’t help but wonder what in the world God is doing. What His plan is. What His purpose is in it all.

If I’m to be completely honest, I don’t just have why’s. There are when’s. And where’s.  And what’s. And how’s. I’m the queen of questions. A terrible what-iffer, too.

If I–who has never experienced the grief and trauma of Job–can ask why, then I’m going to cut Job some slack.

As far as I’m concerned, he could ask all the why’s he wanted.

I know God reserves the right to answer to my questions. I don’t believe He minds me asking. And I believe I can ask as many times as I want, but I’ve learned to be satisfied when He chooses not to reveal it all. Sometimes the greater purpose is just to build my faith in Him to see me through. Carry me through. Give me all I need to sustain me.

God has given us so much in Scripture to help us understand who He is and to help us through our times of trials and suffering, but seeking is all part of His plan.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near…

‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways’, declares the Lord.

‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” Isaiah 55:6,8-9

Even knowing God is Sovereign and above all things, He still knows I’m human.

Sometimes I think it actually grows my faith to ask.

Because I’m still talking to God. Instead of running from Him, I’m running to Him.

Somehow, in all the questions, in all the why’s, in all the seeking, I find Him.

Him.

The One who has all the answers I need.

The One who doesn’t just hear me. He listens. Because He cares.

I don’t know how it happens, but in the  midst of all my why’s He Himself becomes the only answer I need.

Because life and hard things just make no sense without Him.

There will be no peace in the storm.

No purpose for the pain.

No plan on the wilderness road.

No Presence through fire.

So if it’s okay with you, I’ll keep asking the why’s.

Because I’m a seeker and sometimes that’s what God-seekers do.

God has never let me down. I’ve never failed to find Him when I seek Him with all my heart.

And sometimes for me, it all starts with why.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on His, because He cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:6-7

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” James 4:8

Yes, I CAN Do This: Thoughts on Job 1 & 2

This photo isn’t mine. I found it on Pinterest so I don’t know who to credit, but it’s a simple mantra that I had on repeat throughout most of 2019.

My husband and I decided to sell our old farmhouse in a small town in North Carolina not far from Raleigh and move back to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where we would be near my parents and his mom.

Moving is no joke, but prepping a 119-year old farmhouse made the process even tougher. There were days I could hardly move my body hurt so bad, but   I look back on it now and undoubtedly know it was God who supplied my every need.

Because of Him, we did it. We made it. We conquered it.

And now I’m living in that sweet place of peace and saying,

“Well done, Lord. Well done.”

As I worked hard on our old house last year–hence, my absence here on the blog– I also worked hard digging into the book of Job. It seemed fitting.

Our 12 years in North Carolina didn’t go quite like we planned and we encountered some really hard things together. Some of the hardest things I’ve experienced in my faith walk, but I can look back and see so much growth.

I’ve processed a lot. I’ve professed a lot. I’ve compressed a lot.

But I want  you to know…

I have lived in the goodness of God.

I thought I would start my journey back into the blog world by sharing my thoughts on Job. Some of these thoughts I’ve written about on my Instagram feed as well as my ministry page on Facebook, Reflections On The Word. Somehow I did manage to share a few things here and there, but consistency wasn’t a discipline.

I’ve learned over the years that one of the most important things that keeps me grounded in seasons of hard things  is staying in the Word of God. It builds me up and encourages that “I-can-mentality.” Not only do I learn more of who God is and what makes Him God, but I discover who I am as His child.

And really…this man Job? He’s the stuff of legends. Even when it seemed he was losing all hope, he kept going back to what he knew was true about God.

If Job could get through the hard, just about ANYbody could, if the “I-can” is there.

Can you really grasp how much Job lost in so little time?

Boom. All the animals and farmhands. Save one messenger.

Boom. All the sheep and shepherds. Save one messenger.

Boom. All the camels and servants. Save one messenger.

Boom. All his children. Save one messenger.

Just like that.

In a matter of minutes.

While one messenger delivered the news another appeared.

No time to think.

No time to process.

So Job did the only thing he knew to do in that moment.

He praised.

And I realized…I am so not like Job.

‘Cause the first thing I usually do is whine.

Or complain.

Or get angry.

Or afraid.

Not Job, though.

Even God knew “he is the finest man in all the earth–a man of complete integrity. He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil.” Job 1:1, 8

God said that.

About Job.

And I thought…what does God say about me?

As if losing all his wealth and his children wasn’t enough, one day soon after, Job lost his health.

But even stricken with painful boils he maintained his integrity.

He maintained his fear of God.

He still held God in high esteem.

“He said, ‘Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?’ So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.” Job 1:22

No whining.

No complaining.

No fussing.

No anger.

No fear.

Just worship. In those first few moments, Job remembered the essence of what sets God apart and that is this…

God is Sovereign.

I’m completely humbled.

Because in all honesty, I can hardly process the hard things when they come one at a time.

How in the name of heaven would I process, with integrity, the boom-boom-booms of life?!?

But God knew Job.

His heart. His faith.

And God knows me.

He knows what I can handle.

He knows deep down in my heart I want to handle hard things with faith.

God will always be Sovereign.

Above all things. In control of all things. Creator of all things.

And He is holy. This is at the heart of worship.

There are so many good things to focus on about God, but His holiness?

It’s what sets Him apart.

There is no evil in God. No sin. If not for the blood of Jesus, I know my sin would separate me from Him forever and this just wrecks me. So when bad things happen? I know it isn’t because God has forgotten me or doesn’t love me or because He doesn’t care.

Hard things will come to us on this earth and bad things do happen to good people, but God stays true to His character. He never changes and even though we can’t always understand the reasons why bad things come to us, we can trust that God will walk beside us through every storm and every fire and He will give us all we need to sustain us.

I once thought nothing good could ever come from the loss of my eye and the loss of my hearing, but as I’ve grown up in my faith I can honestly tell you that God has been so, so good to me.

And I know He loves me.

Even in the hard things I still believe it. I’ve been an I-can-kinda-girl for as long as I remember. God has never let me down. He’s given me all I need to navigate my days in this hearing-seeing world with grace.

When the trials come, I go back to this.

His goodness really is a blessed thing.

“Every day I call to You, my God, but You do not answer, Every night You hear my voice, but I find no relief.

Yet, You are holy. The praises of Israel surround Your throne.

Our ancestors trust in You, and You rescued them.

You heard their cries for help and saved them. They put their trust in You and we’re never disappointed.” Psalm 22:2-5

YET, God is holy.

Even in life’s fiercest battles.

Even in the boom-boom-booms of life.

God is still God.

And in the hard things I want to be more like Job and remember this.

I want learn to praise first.

If I do nothing else, I know I CAN do this.