Tag Archives: Job

Faithfully Afflicted

My pastor recently introduced me to the S.O.A.P. Bible study method and, as I’m enjoying it quite a bit, I thought I’d share some of what the Lord’s been teaching me. Hope you enjoy!

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Scripture

Psalm 119:75

“I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”

Observe

The word ‘judgments,’ as it’s used here, doesn’t mean ‘punishments’ but rather ‘decisions.’ God makes the right – and the righteous – decisions every time. He is God. He knows the beginning from the end and He sees the whole picture. He is in Heaven, outside of time, looking out across all eternity. He sees all the little details and He knows how to make them work together for His glory and our good. He makes the right call. Every. Time. And when that call hurts us, or doesn’t protect us from getting hurt, it’s still the right call. What’s more, those calls, even the ones that bring about afflictions, are all made in perfect faithfulness to us. He is kind, wise, merciful, and loving, even when it hurts. Even when He hurts. These afflictions are sent from a merciful and kind heart.

Application

I don’t agree with or approve of several, several, of the decisions God has made in my life over the last… well, over my whole life, actually. If I was holding the pen, I would have written a very different story. Furthermore, I don’t agree with the decisions He’s made in the lives of those around me either. They don’t feel righteous or just or faithful to me. Not at all. Biggest case in point is my infertility. I don’t agree with the Lord’s decision to withhold children from me. And I have a heart full of judgment when I look at women whom He has chosen to bless in that way. I don’t at all like the afflictions He’s placed in my husband’s life, in my best friend’s life, in the lives of other people I know and love… none of it feels like it’s been done in faithfulness.

But it has. The Bible says it has. And we can’t go by ‘the feels,’ we have to stand on the truth. So if I can’t get the truth to reconcile with what I’m feeling, I have to work on my feelings, and the root cause behind them, to get them to align with the truth. And the truth is that God is good. He is a good, good Father. He loves us, and He cares about us, and He knows what He’s doing. Even when it hurts. God. Is. Good.

Prayer

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore, I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes. Amen

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Job’s 3 Step Survival Guide

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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.


Even When it Rains

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(Originally published 8/4/13)

I just finished the book of Job which, to be honest, has never been one of my favorites. It pains me to admit it, but the theological discussion Job and his friends get into is so circular and long that I quickly get bored. But this time, God impressed a truth on my heart.

Job is stated to be a Godly and righteous man. When satan catches wind of this, he gets God’s permission to attack Job and takes almost everything away from him: property, servants, children, health, etc. Job’s friends come and morn with him for seven days and nights without speaking, then the theological debate begins.

Job claims adamantly that he has done nothing to deserve his trials while his friends say over and over again that he must have done something wrong because God is just and righteous and would never punish an innocent man. They go round and round trying to make sense of it and that’s when I realized the problem.

These men were so desperate for an explanation to what had happened, but the fact is, God did not owe them one.They were trying in their human capacity to find God’s reasons and that’s something we simply are not capable of doing.

When bad things happen to me or a loved one, one of my first reactions is to try to make sense of it. But God does not owe me an explanation. He does not have to share His plan with me. He does not have to tell me the reason behind His actions.

God does not owe me a thing. When I’m feeling stressed out and everything seems to be going wrong, I will usually adopt a Job mindset: ‘But I didn’t do anything wrong! Why is this happening to me?’ When something terrible happens to someone else, I wonder why, because they seemed like such good people.

Tragedy doesn’t make sense to me; it doesn’t fit into my rules. I figure that if I play by the rules, then God has to as well. But they are not His rules. I draw up the game play and expect the Almighty Creator of the Universe to play along. It does not work that way.

God is mighty and just and all powerful. He is the Awesome I Am, the same yesterday, today, and forever. This is the God Who breathed the stars into existence, Who spoke the world into being. He knitted me together in my mother’s womb. He holds the universe in His hand. That is so incredible to me.

I highly recommend you watch Louie Giglio’s How Great is our God video. This changed my perspective of God and allowed me to catch even the slightest glimpse of how unfathomably huge He is. There is no way a great God like that has to answer to or explain Himself to me.

There is a quote I heard one time that I tried to find but couldn’t. So sorry, I’ll have to improvise. Anyway, as the story goes, a woman approached a preacher (Spurgeon, I think) about Romans 9:13; ‘As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’ The woman said she was having a hard time understanding the ‘Esau I have hated’ bit. The pastor replied that he struggled with that verse as well, but the part he couldn’t get over was ‘Jacob I have loved.’

And that’s the truth. God doesn’t owe me anything, even love. If He were to forgive me my sins and make me His slave, that would be a tremendous mercy that I could never hope to deserve. But He goes further than that and adopts me as His child.

He chooses to love and bless me, so even when rain falls, my response should to be to accept and submit to His will, even if I never know why He’s done what He’s done. Because God is great, and worthy of all praise and admiration, even when it rains. 


On Praises and Storms

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We’ve all seen our fair share of storms. Sometimes, these seasons seem to last forever and sometimes they are brief whirlwinds. But pretty much all of us at some point ask the question ‘Why?’

I’m in the midst of my own storm and I’m very familiar with that question. It’s one that’s haunted my path and taunted me with doubts. The search for an answer has not only consumed my thoughts, it’s swallowed my praise.  

My search led me to the book of Job this morning and it was there that I had an epiphany.

Job never read the book of Job.

Ok, I know. Duh. But seriously, from Job chapter 1, verse 6 we are privy to God’s reasons. We know that God was pleased with Job and when the devil asked permission to tempt Job, God granted it.

We see clearly throughout the book that God is always in complete control of the situation, that satan can’t do a thing without God’s permission, and that the reason behind all the testing is to prove that Job is a Godly man and to make him even more of one.

But Job had no idea what was going on! He lost everything; he was brought to the lowest point any of us can experience on earth. And he never knew why.

He questioned God the way we do. He was human and he wanted an explanation, just as many of us do. And, like many of us, he may have even felt entitled to one.

He got an answer, but not an explanation. Job 38-41 records God’s answer to this just man who felt unjustly afflicted. It is truly humbling. I wish I could record it here, but space fails me so let me sum up:

“Because I am God, and you are not.”        -God

We are granted the tiniest of glimpses as God’s might through these few verses. More importantly, we are shown that God owes no man, either explanation or blessing. Sometimes He does give us answers, but He doesn’t have to, as so many of us (*raises hand*) seem to think.

Job presumably went to his grave never knowing the reason behind the darkest days of his existence. But he still praised God.

Phil. 1:29 tells us:

“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,”

See that? ‘Granted.’ As though to suffer for Him were a gift and an honor. Funny how we never ask Him ‘why’ when it’s sunny.

It is not a sin to bring our questions to God. Just look at the book of Psalms. But it’s dangerous to obsess over the answer, especially when one of the reasons we want it is so that we can manipulate the situation. “Why me?” very quickly turns into “How do I make it stop?”

God has a plan. And it is a good plan, because He is good. He is in control. He doesn’t owe us an explanation for what He allows to happen to us, or for the blessings He withholds from us.

He doesn’t owe me an answer. But I still owe Him praise.

Casting Crowns released a song awhile ago called ‘Praise You in this Storm,’ and I have been trying to do that. But I think that true obedience and faith goes even further than that.

From here on out, through the strengthening and enabling of the Holy Spirit, I’m going to praise You for the storm.


Wimpy Prayers

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I wanted to share something really cool that happened to me earlier this week. As some of you may know, my husband recently found work after several months of searching.

In fact, he found two jobs. Unfortunately, both positions are temporary so we have already started planning our next steps. Step one: reactivate my husband’s CPA license.

I spent many, many hours on the phone calling all over the place trying to figure out how it could be done. When I finally reached the bottom line, I was slightly discouraged.

In order to reactivate his CPA, my husband would have to take 80hrs of CPE training. To compound matters, his license is in TN, one of only a few states that doesn’t accept self study courses.

So now, my poor hubby, who’s already working 70+ hour weeks, had 80hrs of class work to look forward to as soon as things calm down. Plus, we had no idea how much these courses would cost.

There was one ray of hope: the second job my husband took was at H&R Block and as a prerequisite for being hired, he had to take a 75hr long tax course. After being hired, he took several more hours of training.

Eagerly hoping all that work would count for something, I called to find out if these CPEs qualified. The reply was “Only if they were taken live in a classroom.” Unfortunately, his 75hr long course was a mix of live and self study, so I didn’t know what if any of it would count. All the other training he took was self study.

Nevertheless, I got together all my husband’s recent certificates and found four that looked promising. After going through the criteria, I calculated that best case scenario 61hrs would qualify. Worst case, only 4hrs.

As I sat in front of my computer, preparing to send the certificates, I began to pray for those 61hrs. But something stopped me.

I’ve been thinking lately on the power of prayer and about how I’m really timid in my prayer life. I’m not given to bold prayer. My prayers are wimpy.

I’m more apt to pray “Lord, do whatever You want, just please don’t let it hurt too much.”

I don’t think God is pleased with this sort of praying. Praying that the Lord have His will is a powerful thing and I believe every prayer should end on that note. But the Bible says in James 4:2b, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”

Obviously this doesn’t mean that we should all hit our knees and ask for BMWs, but I believe that God wants His children to be honest with Him in prayer.

He knows our desires anyway, so why should we try to hide them from Him with weak prayers? Doing so is like telling Him we don’t think He’ll come through, so we aren’t bothering to ask.

So I started praying, “God, it would be amazing if all these hours counted. Please let the hours from these courses satisfy all the necessary requirements for the 80hrs. I know that Your plans for our future are good and I trust Your will.”

This for me was a bold prayer and after I said amen, I emailed the certificates. Within an hour I had my answer.

Best case scenario, 61hrs would count. I asked God for 80hrs. He gave me 82.

My husband’s application and required CPE hours are now on their way and I’ve been blessed with a very tangible illustration of God’s absolute goodness!

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Heb.4:16

Are you coming before God with bold prayers or wimpy ones? 


Items Sold Separately

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When I was little, I was big into Barbie Dolls. My sisters and I played with them all the time. When birthdays and Christmas rolled around, anything ‘Barbie Land’ was a safe bet for a gift.

We would un-rap new dolls, outfits, furniture sets, whatever, and be elated for all of five minutes. Then we’d really look at the box and the advertisement pictures thereon. You know, the ‘Items Sold Separately’ pictures.

“Oh,” we’d say to each other. “Look at that beautiful dream house. I wish we had that to put our new dolls in.”

I do the same thing today. If you’ve been following my blog for the last few months, you’ll notice that I’ve mentioned my husband’s job search more than once. Well, praise report, he found work!

He works part time as a tax preparer and full time at a temp job. Both jobs are a major blessing and though I miss him like crazy when he’s gone all day, we are both very grateful for the money.

An interesting timing aspect of the job is that the contract on it runs out ten days before our lease does. We’re not sure yet what the new rent will be, but just in case it goes up, I’ve started looking for a new place to stay.

I’ve discovered that a mortgage on a small condo or townhouse could well be less than the rent we pay for an apartment now. So I’ve decided I want a house. And when I say ‘decided’ I mean decided.

I’m heart set on the idea and try as I may, I can’t seem to get a release on it. The result? I’m no longer enjoying the blessing that God’s given us by providing work and money.

This new longing is robbing me of the peace and joy I felt for those five elated minutes after the jobs were offered. When I should be rejoicing and praising my Savior for His provisions, I’m starting prayers with the word ‘please’ again.

In Luke 12:15, Jesus says:

“Take heed and beware of covetousness,for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

There is no life in the things of this world. Each wish once granted will only lead to another wish. I may get my dream house but I won’t even be unpacked before wanting new curtains and wall paper.

See, I’m wise to the enemy’s scheme. I know that want only breads more want. I know the enemy’s here to steal, kill and destroy (John10:10).  By the grace of God, I’m not gonna let him!

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Heb.13:5

Honestly, you’d think that would be enough. The Almighty Creator of the Universe has given me His personal assurance that He will never leave me. What on earth could possibly compare to that?!

So I will be content with what I have. It could be that God has a house for us, or it could be that we stay in this apartment of the rest of our lives.

Either way, we’ll be where God is, and by His grace, that’s enough for me.


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