I’ve been reading Job again. It’s a funny book to me because it’s gone from being one of my least favorites to one of my most favorites. It got to the point where I was so reluctant to read it that I started paying more attention to it, trying to find something to like about it. And God has shown me so many beautiful truths in my earnest searching.
I finished it the other day and I was struck by three very significant points in the final chapter, points that I think hold the key to standing fast through hard times.
First, I love Job’s response to God’s correction. Covered in Job 42:2-6, it can be summed up in this statement:
‘Therefore I retract, and I repent’
Job’s heart here reminds me of Habakkuk in Hab.2:1. It’s a heart of humility that stands ready for correction. But the thing I really love about Job’s repentance is how short it is. After 35 chapters of back and forth and reasoning and questioning and wondering and pleading, God answers and Job’s response is 5 verses long.
My apologies are never 5 verses long. They are 55+ verses long, and climbing. ‘Sorry’ is the most over-used word in my vocabulary. I have a guilt complex that just won’t quit and I have a lot of trouble accepting forgiveness, from God, from others, or from myself.
But Job realized that the first step to healing was to accept that God is God, that He can do whatever He wants, and that we should take our arguments and ‘retract and repent.’ God will win anyway, so this just saves time. Job accepted and moved on; no lingering in false guilt, no self-pity, just the realization that God is right.
The second step was to get Job’s focus off of himself. After everything he’s gone through, mourning is necessary and healthy. But when it comes time to move on, one of the best ways to do so is by taking your eyes off yourself.
Job repents, God forgives him, and then immediately, the Lord gives Job the task of praying for his friends. Now, not only does he have a mission to help others, but those others also happen to be three men who just hurt him. Not only is God helping Job by refocusing him, He’s also keeping bitterness and unforgiveness from taking root in Job’s heart. By telling him to ask for forgiveness on his friends’ behaves, He’s also bringing Job to a place where he can forgive his friends. Releasing that grudge and moving on gets Job another step closer to healing.
The final step is one that I think often goes overlooked, and that’s time. God didn’t instantly restore Job to his former state. He lost things that would never be returned to him. Instead, it took years to rebuild and recover.
We pray for so many miracles in the midst of tragedies that I think we sometimes forget that surviving the tragedy is a miracle in itself.
God’s healing isn’t always instantaneous, but it’s always sure. Sometimes we feel like we’ll explode if He’s silent for even one more second. Then the second passes, and another one, and another one, and the sun comes back up, and we realize He’s been there with us the whole time.
So to recap;
Step 1) Don’t fight the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Like David, Job, and Habakkuk, we are allowed to question, but He’s going to win any argument anyways, so humility will save us time and heartache.
Step 2) Focus on others. Jesus was a servant and we were built in His image, so while selflessness may not feel natural to begin with, the after effects can be startlingly therapeutic. As can loving and forgiving those who’ve hurt us or failed to comfort.
Step 3) Don’t rush. It doesn’t have to be pretty, you just have to make it. And in the end, you will. Every storm eventually runs out of rain. Be patient, God will see you through. He will complete the good work He began in you.
These steps are much easier listed than followed. But thankfully, God’s grace is never ending and His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!
No matter what you’re going through, whether a drizzle or a hurricane, God can and will make everything right.