Come on, admit it – you’ve said it, haven’t you? I have unfortunately…
Why, God, why? Why are you being so mean to me? Haven’t I suffered enough already?
If not you, perhaps it’s one of your friends who is so upset with God that he/she has turned their back on Him, saying, “Why bother trying to do what the Bible says. All God does is cause me more and more pain. I’m sick of it. Life was a lot better before I became a Christian.”
Have you, yourself, turned away from God because you’ve had to endure so much hurt? Because you feel like He’s been cruelly picking on you?
Please hang on! Because nothing you have gone through was without a reason. God has a purpose and a plan even when you can’t see it; and He loves you more than you imagine even when you don’t feel it.
The past few months I’ve been doing an intense study on the book of Job. I have to admit I never understood why God allowed Job – a man who He Himself describes as “the finest man in all the earth … blameless—a man of complete integrity” (Job 1:8, 2:3) had to go through so much pain; pain beyond what most of us will ever have to suffer. It just didn’t make sense.
But to be perfectly honest, a lot of people my husband and I know have wondered the same thing about us. Why have we had to endure losing 2 children within a 5-month period, and then have our remaining son struggle as he does with quadriplegic cerebral palsy? My sister years ago admitted to me that she confronted God with, “Why them, Lord, why always them?”
While I certainly don’t have all the answers to the “why” of circumstances that happen which appear to be out of our control, I do know one reason for me personally was that I was arrogant, headstrong, and thought I always knew best. Plus – and perhaps even more importantly – I was pretending to be a Christian. I was living a lie.
And do you know that God knows exactly what needs to be done to get our attention? Quite honestly I don’t know if I would have ever surrendered to His saving grace if we hadn’t lost our 2 sons.
Now believe me, I certainly wasn’t like God-fearing Job. Being a person of “integrity” was not me. So it just never made any sense to me why God would allow Job to go through all he had to go through – things so much worse than what we had to suffer.
But through this Bible study the pieces suddenly started coming all together, for I learned that that Job was blinded with pridefulness…
That’s not saying that Job didn’t really love God. He did! Even after he’d lost all his children, his possessions, and was covered from head-to-toe with painful sores, he still did not say anything bad about Him. He states in Job 1:21: “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!”
And in Job 2:10: “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”
But just like the rest of us, the longer he had to suffer, the more his defenses broke down. And when our defenses are shattered, we become more susceptible to saying and doing just what we should not be saying and doing.
That’s what happened to Job. He started to unravel.
It began when his so-called friends came to visit, and instead of encouraging Job, started pounding at him about why they believed he was having to suffer. Job begins to fray at the edges.
While you really need to read the whole book of Job to fully understand the specifics, let me just say that the more Job kept defending himself to his friends, the more he began to exalt himself, as well. Yes he had been doing so many of the right things, but the more you read his words, the more you see he appeared to be basing his faith on God being pleased with the good works he had been performing – instead of grace.
So one of the reasons God allowed the intense pain and suffering in his life was to get Job to the point where he could actually hear His voice, and know intimately just who he said he believed in. And, when you get to Job 38-41, you read how finally God Himself speaks to beloved Job, and points out just how ignorant he was of just Who He is.
But here’s what I love. Because even though Job has gone through the worst of the worst, when he opens his ears to really hear the voice of God, he doesn’t argue, he repents (Job 42)! He realizes his pridefulness, and comes before his Father asking for forgiveness.
And, of course, our loving God forgives him immediately, and blesses him with even more than he had in the beginning.
Heady stuff, isn’t it?
OK, I can imagine some of you tuning out by now. “What does this have to do with me? What am I supposed to be learning? Are you saying that when bad things happen it is always because of sin?”
NO! Only God Himself knows all the reasons for what you’re having to go through.
For my husband and I, when we lost our children, I knew personally one of the reasons God allowed it was because of sin in my life; but that didn’t mean it was the whole reason. And nothing hurt us more than having well-meaning people approach us with the “it must be because you have sin in your life” card. When someone is hurting, you need to be encouraging them instead of bruising them even more. We are not God, so sitting and speculating causes more harm than good.
Our Father has a mission for all of His children, and He uniquely places us just where we need to be. He has us go through what we need to go through – in order to fulfill His purpose in this life on earth.
But going back to Job’s friends, they themselves also had lessons to learn; and they learned them through the sufferings of Job. God rebukes them strongly in Job 42:7-9. They were puffing themselves up with self-proclaimed knowledge about why Job had to suffer, when instead they should have been encouraging him, lifting him up in prayer.
People are always watching us as Christians, and the way we handle the pains and trials we go through can strengthen others in their walks with Jesus, and can even bring unbelievers close to the Father. But we need to be doing our best to remain with eyes lifted in faith and trust through our difficulties, even when we don’t understand why the hurts are happening.
And when we finally come out on the other end of our trial? Then we discover our faith and intimacy with our Father has grown even deeper than ever before, as God rejuvenates us here on this earth, and also when we enter eternity. If we are serious about our relationship with God, and strive to understand His full council, He becomes our everything, such as the psalmist states in Psalm 119:105-112:
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again: I will obey your righteous regulations. I have suffered much, O LORD; restore my life again as you promised. LORD, accept my offering of praise, and teach me your regulations. My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your instructions. The wicked have set their traps for me, but I will not turn from your commandments. Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight. I am determined to keep your decrees to the very end.
Stand firm my friends. Lean on God the Father who is our shield and our strength. Nothing – and no one – can take His place. There’s a big difference as to whether you simply have religion, or if you have a relationship with Jesus. I chose a personal relationship with Jesus Christ my Savior, and I pray you will too.