There is Promise in Pain (Week Fifteen)

Week Fifteen Study Overview: Today is the day we’ve been waiting for! We will study Job chapters 38-41, and finally hear God’s response to Job’s lamenting!

Key Point of Struggle: How do we handle ourselves when conviction finally arises?

Key Proof of Comfort: Job 41:11

  • If you haven’t read Job chapters 38-41, now would be a great time.

Last week, we learned that Job’s three friends stopped responding to him. Job made one final plea, but after his words were finished, a man named Elihu walked on the scene choosing to make the most out of this moment of silence in hopes of sneaking his opinions and mixed theology into the conversation. After his lectures are finished, it’s as if Elihu was never there. In fact, we never hear another word about him. Chapter 38 begins with a mighty wind.

  • To put all this in context, it might help to reread the last defense Job spoke before Elihu came. (See Chapter 31)

I picture God watching every detail through Job’s suffering, hearing every word he prayed, and listening to every argument between Job and his three friends… until He couldn’t allow one more second to pass without setting Job straight.

We know that Job did nothing to cause his suffering, but he did feel as if God was absent throughout his affliction. With every breath in his body he made his feelings well known about the Almighty’s presence leaving him. Job acted as if God picked up every ounce of favor He ever bestowed on his life and left without looking back.

God never leaves.

If you’ve ever felt that way, or feel that way right now, I need you to know that God does not leave anything He created. Friend, He created you! You aren’t alone. (See Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5)

However, it can feel that way at times. Job definitely started to rely on feeling as if God was absent. And so God did what only God can do… He showed up in a way that Job could never deny.

When I start to read chapter 38, it’s as if I’m there. I picture a strong wind swirling, and a thunderous voice booming as God quickly calls everything and everyone into order. I can almost see Job drop to his knees in awe of this majestic God who was breathing life back into him through that very same whirlwind and a barrage of questions.

My favorite question comes in Job 38:4…

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding…”

-Job 38:4

God pours out question after question, but this is the one that keeps me shaking in my boots. When it comes to my own life, the truth is I wasn’t anything until He said I was, and Job wasn’t anything until He said Job was. We have no understanding of why certain situations turn out the way they do, because we have no control.

We aren’t the Creator, we are simply the created. (And yet we are so precious to Him.)

Chapters 38-40 give us glimpses into the creation story and make us more aware than ever that we must learn to be fully dependent on the One who holds everything together.

He has a perfect order and it’s not for us to understand it, it’s for us to serve Him throughout it.

None of us want to live inside sorrow, but I believe there is purpose inside every circumstance we will ever face. There is purpose in our pain. We might not ever understand it this side of heaven, but it’s never for nothing.

In Job 40, we have a chance to hear Job respond:

“Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You?”

-Job 40:4

Sometimes God gives revelation and opens ears to what hearts are finally ready to hear. Throughout, the process of conviction comes swiftly, but it’s not meant to make room for condemnation to grow. Instead, it’s meant to create a further dependency on who this great God and Father is to us, and the direction He has for our lives. It teaches us trust, how to wholly repent, and grow in holiness.

Our comfort comes through the following verse:

“…Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is Mine.”

Job 41:11

EVERYTHING under heaven is mine! That means we belong to Him, there is nothing under heaven that doesn’t belong to Him. There is no greater comfort. We belong to the God of the universe. We belong.

Next week, we will finally arrive at the conclusion of our There is Promise in Pain study. I’ve learned so much through these last few months, and I hope you have as well. This Friday, in our #WordforYourWeekend subscriber only content, I’m going to talk about my “God in the whirlwind moment.”

  • In your Journal, please write the last part of Job 41:11 …Everything under heaven is mine. When you’re done, list someone who is having a difficult time understanding they belong to God, it can even be you, and write a prayer for them. Ask God to give them a mighty revelation as to who they are in Christ.
  • Please read Chapter 42 in preparation of our last week of study.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: next week I’ll be announcing a new study and some fun things coming to the blog! Subscribers will hear about it first!

There is Promise in Pain (Week Fourteen)

Week Fourteen Study Overview: Today we meet Elihu and find out what he thinks regarding Job and his friends.

Key Point of Struggle: When facing tragedy, we often forget the wondrous works of God in our lives.

Key Proof of Comfort: John 10:10 tells us we are meant to have abundant life.

  • If you haven’t read Job chapters 32-37, now would be a great time.

After hearing so much from Job’s three friends, we find out in chapter 32 that there is someone else on the scene. His name is Elihu, and if you read him like I do, you might find him a bit arrogant. The speeches he made have been heavily debated among scholars. The reason for strong argument is because when God becomes vocal with Job near the end of the book, Elihu is not mentioned with the other three friends. We aren’t sure exactly where he stands with God. Theologians are still desperately trying to figure out the significance of what he had to say and why.

In chapter 32, he begins contradicting Job’s three friends. The men stopped replying to Job’s defense, so Elihu seizes the opportunity to speak up. He made his feelings known about how disappointed he was with what these men, who were much older, had to say.  He obviously thought age contained wisdom. I think we can all agree that it depends on the individual, right? Now, before you start cheering in response to someone other than Job telling these guys off, you need to know that in chapter 33 he makes some strong opinions toward Job. He tells him he needs to repent, and shouldn’t demand an answer from God.

In chapter 34, he gives us a little sermon on God’s justice and sovereignty. As we move into chapter 35, we see he doesn’t believe any man could have the ability to be righteous. Shortly after, in chapters 36-37, he speaks of the Almighty’s goodness and majesty. This guy had a lot to say and didn’t hinder one word. Once again, throughout his speeches, we become acquainted with a bit of sketchy theology mixed with some nuggets of truth.

Elihu’s appearance in the book is interesting because it provides a pause within the constant dialogue between Job and his friends. It’s after this that the heavens broke loose, literally. God came out of the whirlwind. We will get to that next week. It’s awesome!

In the meantime, now that we’ve discussed context, let’s dig deeper into one particular verse.

“Listen to this, O Job; stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.”

-Job 37:14

I’m just wondering how often any of us actually take time to reflect on those words from Elihu? How often do we simply standstill, sit still, or lie still, and consider the astounding works of God? In my life, I’ll be honest and tell you it’s not nearly enough. I study the word, pray, and thank God for who He is, but lately I’ve been in the middle of crisis. Today would have been my brother’s 34th birthday, and I can’t wish him happy birthday. I can’t take him to Red Lobster, which is where he loved me to take him on his birthday. I can’t buy him a gift or hug him. I can’t do anything today but miss him.

In the midst of all that, it’s easy to forget the wondrous works of God. My focus seems to easily shift to what I don’t have rather than what I do have.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.

-John 10:10

The enemy of our souls would love for us to focus solely on what seems missing rather than the abundance of life we are meant to live. On Friday’s Word for Your Weekend Video we are going to examine this passage of scripture in John along with what comes next. For today, I would love you to do this:

  • In your journal, make a list of what you have rather than what you don’t have. Focus on writing a short prayer of thanksgiving for each person, place, or thing on that list.
  • Challenge yourself to consider the wondrous works of God.
  • If you’re having a tough time with this because of whatever hard issues you’re facing, find a time and place to be still and ask God to remind you of who He is.

We serve a God who does not disappoint. Job’s friends disappointed him, but next week, we will find out that God never disappoints. Never ever.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week Thirteen)

Week Thirteen Study Overview: Today, we will cover a lot of ground as we study Job chapters 25-31 and look at what it takes to be righteous.

Key Point of Struggle: Bildad asks an all-important question in chapter 25 that seems to cause all of us a fair amount of contemplation: “How then can a man be righteous before God?”

Key Proof of Comfort: Though we will discuss much today, there is a key verses we will isolate to show how we can find comfort in our ability to be righteous. (Job 27:3)

I had the beautiful opportunity to attend the IF:Lead conference in Dallas, Texas last week. There was a brilliant amount of wisdom throughout the room as one-by-one humble women of God took the stage to teach. Jill Briscoe was a keynote speaker. If you aren’t familiar with her, please do yourself a favor and order her books or YouTube some of her speaking events. You won’t be sorry.

  • If you haven’t read Job chapters 25-31, now would be a great time.

You can imagine how quickly I gave all my attention to her as she started speaking on the subject of Job. She wrote a book about Job and admitted that as she was preparing to write it, she had these thoughts: “Perhaps God might give me some illustrations.” I immediately began to weep because throughout this study I’ve had my fair share of horrific illustrations. However, as she spoke those words, I was reminded of something she said in a breakout session only the day before. On the topic of fear in ministry, Jill Briscoe said, “Learn to do it frightened. I’ve never done scary things unafraid. Courage is doing the right thing. There’s enough courage on the other side of obedience.”

As we read Job chapter 25, we find that Bildad makes another appearance asking a rather deep question. It’s a question we all seem to ponder at one time or another. “How then can man be righteous before God?” As I’ve said over and over again throughout this study, this time period in Biblical history is well before the cross. These men could not see how to be righteous through the blood of Jesus. Instead, these friends of Job believed only evil people were made to suffer as a consequence of their disobedience to God. Thankfully, because we are able to see grace through the shed blood of our Lord, we have the luxury of understanding their theology was misguided.

Jill Briscoe actually gave the answer to Bildad’s question in one life-changing word: obedience. Our righteousness is a result of believing in the one and only God who paid the price on the cross. It is our obedience to answer His call that defines us righteous.

In Job 26, Job reprimands Bildad for being unsupportive to him throughout his trouble. In chapter 27, I believe Job gives us the answer to Bildad’s question in his own words.

“As long as my breath is in me, and the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. Far be it from me that I should say you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live. “

-Job 27:3-6

Job claimed obedience to the living God at all costs. Regardless how much he suffered, he would declare righteousness. To be righteous is to be obedient.

As we move on to chapter 28, Job gives a discourse on wisdom. It is in this chapter we find another beautiful nugget to hold tightly.

And to man He said, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.”

-Job 28:28

Job makes the point that we cannot understand why bad things happen. Though sometimes God makes us aware, there are many circumstances for which we will never have answers. We live in a fallen world, and unfortunately, it touches each one of us. There is suffering all around. Making the decision to seek God, know God, and refuse to let go of His righteousness is the only way we will survive.

Now, if you ask me, it’s when we finally arrive in chapter 29 that we see Job begin to throw a bit of a pity party for himself. He begins a defense that possibly crosses the line. For example, Job makes the following remark:

“Oh, that I were as in months past, as in the days when God watched over me…”

-Job 29:2

Friend, I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt this way. It’s easy to feel as if God no longer watches when we face hardship, or watches and does nothing to intervene. Feelings lie. Truth says He’s always there. He is for us not against us. (See Romans 8:31)

Job was very busy defending himself to his unsupportive, misled friends, yes. However, personally, I believe the need to defend his actions began playing with his mind. It’s just the way I see it. It’s so easy to become caught up in defending ourselves against error. If we stay in that place too long, we end up entangled in strong emotion threatening our cause. We cannot be our own defender. In my life, I’ve found that is a job reserved for God alone. If you feel unseen, or unheard by the Almighty, I want you to know He sees you, and He hears you. You are not forgotten. Job was not forgotten. You have a defender. Job had a defender.

Job did not know the whole backstory of the enemy approaching the throne in chapter one. (Refer to beginning of study for this explanation in context.) And, just like Job, there’s so much we can’t see, either. This is why faith must come into play.

Our obedience led by faith will secure righteousness in Christ.

In Chapter 30, Job continues the defense of his righteousness, which thoroughly breaks my heart while making me furious with the enemy of our souls. Job was a good man with a good heart. He was a lover of righteousness. He was weary and felt he had no other choice than to defend how he lived his life. Oh, Job, I so understand you.

  • Do you believe you can live a righteous life?
  • Have you ever felt overlooked by God?
  • In your journal, please write a prayer asking God to help you find faith in His hand upon your life, even when you can’t see it.
  • What does obedience mean to you today?
  • Do the words of Jill Briscoe, where fear and obedience are concerned, cause you to think about your situation differently?
  • Next week’s reading is Job chapters 33-37. We will meet Elihu.

On this week’s #WordforYourWeekend subscriber only content, we will talk faith and discuss a story where Jesus showed one woman and one man how much faith matters.

Love,

Jennifer

There is Promise in Pain (Week Twelve)

Week Twelve Study Overview: Today, we discuss Job chapters 22-24, and think through God’s timing.

Key Point of Struggle: When God’s timing does not match our own.

Key Proof of Comfort: Our God of the impossible lives without the confinement of time, and teaches us what it means to wait for His perfect plan.

  • If you’ve not read Job chapters 22-24, now would be a great time.

In my own life, I’ve often struggled with God’s timing versus my own.  His timing usually seems inconvenient and forces uncomfortable circumstances. When we were trying to have another baby, fifteen years passed and not one step of the way was easy. Other people who hadn’t walked a day in my shoes wanted to tell me all about God’s timing. It did nothing but aggravate me.

I was aggravated because they were right. Good, godly people had great intentions and wanted to comfort me with truth. Let me tell you, it’s difficult to accept something might take years to come to fruition, or possibly might never happen at all.

This whole thing about time and space, where God is concerned, is tough to wrap our brains around. He does not adhere to the laws of physics. He’s everywhere at once and yet sometimes it feels like He’s not where we need Him. Or at least, it feels as if He’s inactive in that space. Too often we become caught up in the idea that God should have some kind of magic wand and wave it whenever we call on His name. It doesn’t work that way. It never will.

In chapter 22, we hear from Eliphaz again, and though he mixes some truth within his upside down theology, he really just uses his breath to belittle and persecute Job for sins not committed. In chapter 23, Job talks a lot about judgment. (This will be the topic of our #WordforYourWeekend subscriber only content.) And, in chapter 24 we take a front row seat and watch Job struggle over the feeling that God seems absent and deliverance is coming slowly… if ever.

In one way or another, we can all understand Job’s feelings. We need rescue and when we cry out to God, it’s as if the only voice we hear speaking back is the echo of our own. It’s frustrating. Job begins chapter 24 with yet another question.

“Since times are not hidden from the Almighty, why do those who know Him see not His days?”

-Job 24:1

It seems to me that Job begins to feel as if living a righteous life has earned him the right to understand God’s timing. He’s unsure as to why he cannot grasp the plan of God and see things as He does. All of this is about the divine will of God. Yes, we CAN expect Him to work on our behalf. No, we CANNOT expect it to be according to our timetable.

When we seek a close relationship with the Almighty and feel as if He’s actually our Father, it becomes easy to feel overlooked when enduring trial. We expect our Father to pick us up, hold us, and defeat our foes. And, friends, He does. However, He does it according to perfection. Our time and plans are not perfect, only His. We cannot begin to understand what it means to live according to perfect will. This is why we struggle. Our flesh gets in the way. The enemy wants to whisper lies that God isn’t there, isn’t fighting for us, and isn’t working according to a perfect will. We must be ready to battle.

In all of this, Job couldn’t understand why the righteous and wicked seemed to be treated in the same manner. I believe it’s because we have a tough time comprehending what a perfect will is. We think we understand, but tragedy and trial makes us weary. Job was weary. I’m often guilty of the same weariness.

Faith takes perseverance regardless of how we feel.

I don’t know what it is you’re waiting for. Personally, I’m waiting for a few big things right now. Everyday I’m conditioning myself to remember I need the perfect will of God. I want what He wants. And, I want it when He wants me to have it. It’s like spiritual exercise to tell myself those same words every day. And just like physical exercise, the more I discipline myself, the more results I see.

If you find yourself feeling worried about God’ timetable, let me encourage you to stand firmly in His promises while reminding yourself that His will is perfect. He never fails.

  • In your journal, write a list of everything you’re waiting for God to do. Prioritize it, and then write a prayer to God underneath asking Him to help you find contentment in His perfect will. Ask Him to unveil what perfect really means, and even if you are having a hard time seeing it, allow faith in His perfection to help you carry on. Jesus will help you, He never disappoints.
  • For next week, please read Job chapters 25-31. We will cover a lot of ground!

If you’re a subscriber, I’ll see you Friday on Word for Your Weekend. If not, you’re only an email address away from deeper study!

Love,

Jennifer

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week Eleven)

Week Eleven Study Overview: Today, we will discuss the manipulation of the enemy while enduring crisis as we study Job’s discourse on the wicked.

Key Point of Struggle: Why does it seem that people who reject God live without scars?

Key Proof of Comfort: Psalm 118:19

We have finally hit the halfway point in the book of Job! The story of his life is so alive to me, and though I look forward to progressing through the study, I’ll be sad when we turn the last page.

  • Today’s reading is Job chapters 20 and 21. If you haven’t read those, now would be a great time!

In chapter 20 we see Zophar give his second argument, which once again condemns Job, declaring him guilty of wickedness. There was no consideration for anything Job said to defend himself thus far. After this, in chapter 21 Job speaks about how he feels regarding the wicked, and then it seems he goes onto mock them for their belief systems.

There are two verses in particular I want to pull out of chapter 21.  Let’s discuss the first.

Why do the wicked live and become old, yes, become mighty in power?

-Job 21:7

This is definitely a key point of struggle for me. I’ve watched family members, who know and love Jesus, leave this earth way too soon. I’ve sat in the middle of tragedy watching others who reject God live seemingly unscathed. The truth is, no one lives unharmed by the evil of this world, and it’s not for me to judge hearts. It’s also not my job to critique God’s decisions. Only God knows why. In my opinion, the question Job presents as he’s replying to Zophar’s views is a fine line to walk. The enemy is a master manipulator, and he wants nothing more than for us to question God’s wisdom in all circumstances. He wants us to feel rejected without cause, not only by people, but also by God.

Just yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend about this very subject. When we are hurting, it is way too easy to look at the circumstances of others and judge their lives based on our own insecurities and despair. We want what they have, and so we rationalize why we deserve it more. It’s rather scary, because many emotions, especially rejection, can evoke these feelings. From dire financial needs to needing healing, wanting a child, marriage, or even a best friend can take us down roads leading to sin. If we aren’t aware of the enemy’s manipulation, we won’t even recognize we’re heading there until we arrive. In our own battle to defend ourselves against rejection, we only end up rejecting others, and ultimately hurting ourselves.

There are two more questions posed by Job in verse 15. In this verse, he is actually mocking the wicked by quoting how they might think.

Who is the Almighty that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?

-Job 21:15

I believe it is perfectly okay to ask God questions, as long as we don’t stay in that place expecting to receive and understand all the answers. Sometimes, peace comes through whispers of promise inside pain. It’s about learning to breathe in the scary spaces rather than receiving direct, definitive answers as to why we landed there in the first place. At some point, “faith mode” must override “question mode.” When we stay overly inquisitive for too long, the possibility of asking questions like we see in verse 15 grows greater and greater.

Our questions should be designed to lead us closer to God, not further from Him.

We live in a society where everyone’s lives are on display. If we aren’t very careful, social media statuses and the pictures that go along with them can leave us hungry for what others have. And here’s the thing you might not want to hear: what we feel as a result of what others seem to have, or how they live their lives, very rarely has anything to do with them. It almost always has everything to do with us! Ouch. I know. We all have issues to work through, so let’s start working.

Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, and I will praise the Lord

-Psalm 118:19

I memorized this scripture last year. The Psalmist’s words in this particular passage bring me great comfort. I refuse to allow unfit emotions, which usually prove nothing more than manipulation from the enemy, dictate my life. I reject self-pity and accept God’s best for me.  I will continually ask the God who I know sees me to open up His gates of righteousness that I may walk through them with praise on my lips. It is within that space where I will find my comfort. And, friend, you’ll find it there, too.

  • Please read Psalm 118, and in your journal, write down the parts of this chapter that speak to you regarding whatever situation you find yourself battling.
  • Next week’s reading is Job chapters 22-24.

I’m looking forward to discussing this further on this week’s #WordforYourWeekend subscriber only content. If you’ve not subscribed yet, you’re only an email address away from deeper study!

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week Ten)

Week Ten Study Overview: Today, we will look briefly at Job 18, and dig into chapter 19 as we learn what it means to truly trust our Redeemer.

Key Point of Struggle: How do we trust our Redeemer when loneliness whispers lies that we will never be redeemed from anything?

Key Proof of Comfort: We will work to discover the power in Job 19:25-27.

Poor Job… It doesn’t matter what he said in defense of himself, it was never enough. Bildad didn’t like Job’s previous response in chapters 16 and 17. And, not only did Bildad not like what was said, he also didn’t believe Job. His doctrine dictated that only the wicked were punished, and that meant Job didn’t stand a chance in his sight. We can all be thankful our Father in heaven is the Supreme Judge. Job understood that principle, and the trust He had in His Redeemer helped him stand against Bildad’s confused theology.

In chapter 19, Job continues to defend his cause. In verses 13-20 he pours his heart out concerning his loneliness. No one wanted anything to do with him.

  • Please read Job 19:13-20 to refresh your memory.
  • Have you ever felt alone in your trials? If so, consider writing a prayer in your journal asking God to fill the void showing you promise inside pain.

As I’m walking through grief, I often hear myself say things like, “Nobody understands how I feel.” It’s true that not everyone has dealt with my exact loss, but most everyone has experienced loss on some level. I’m awakening to the fact that sometimes feeling lonely inside struggles leads to withdrawal. In the long run, retreating does nothing more than propel the cycle of feeling all alone. It’s important to allow other’s to speak into our lives. Most importantly, we must allow the truth of the Holy Spirit to break down walls blocking our healing.

As Job continues emptying out the contents of his soul, he says something very interesting.

“Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever!”

-Job 19:23-24

He wanted his theology recorded, because he knew what he believed and wanted his account on record. And, guess what? God did just that! The book of Job was admitted into the canon of scripture for a very specific purpose. And what Job says next is what keeps me going through every dark place I’ve ever traversed through.

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

Job 19:25-27

There is no possible way I can describe the power those words hold. They aren’t simply platitudes meant to strike emotion. Instead, just like the writer of Hebrews tells us concerning the Word of God, those words are living and active. Job released those words into the air, and God made sure every life would have opportunity to claim it as promise.

Even before the cross, Job knew his Redeemer lived! That’s crazy amazing to me!

  • Please write Job 19:25-27 in your journal and read it out loud at least once a day for the next week. You’ll find power in that confession of faith!

On our #WordforYourWeekend subscriber only content, we are going to talk about what it meant to be a “kinsman-redeemer.” We will also look at a couple in the Old Testament who walked out that principle. And, of course, we will point everything we’ve learned to our redemption in Jesus Christ. I hope you join me!

If you’re not a subscriber, you’re just an email address away from deeper study!

 

Love,

Jennifer

There is Promise in Pain (Week Nine)

Week Nine Study Overview: Today, we look at Job chapters 15-17, cringe at what Eliphaz has to say, cheer as job responds, and step into enlightenment as we examine his prayer for relief.

Key Point of Struggle: Our key point of struggle is based straight from the mouth of Job: Where then is my hope? As for my hope, who can see it? Job 17:15

Key Proof of Comfort: Proverbs 27:17

  • If you haven’t read Job chapters 15-17, now is a great time.

The more I step into Job’s world, the more disdain I feel for his so-called friends. In Chapter 15, we find Eliphaz on top of his soapbox using a sarcastic tone. He took Job for a liar and a fool. The lack of compassion is unbelievable.

Job may have been covered in boils and dealing with overwhelming loss, but he was not a doormat for these men. In chapter 16, he refuses to suppress his true emotions. Within the ragged, torn mess of everything he felt both physically and emotionally, he draws enough breath to speak wise words of truth. Let’s take a peek at a few of his statements.

“I also could speak as you do, if your soul were in my soul’s place. I could heap up words against you, and shake my head at you; but I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.” – Job 16:4-5

He was floored that these men were accusing him of sins he did not commit. They were staring at a man who had lost everything, right down to his physical appearance, and not one of them was able to offer true comfort. Job couldn’t begin to imagine treating anyone else the way he was being treated. He said, “…the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.”

  • Have you ever experienced true comfort from a friend? If so, how did it help you in the midst of your struggle?
  • Have you felt looked down on by a friend in the midst of sorrow? If so, what do you wish that person knew about your heart? Have you taken that circumstance to God asking him to heal you of your pain?
  • Has dealing with your own grief affected the way you comfort others?

“Surely even now my witness is in heaven and my evidence is on high.” – Job 16:19

There have been times in my life, that through great sorrow, I have examined everything I’ve done. I have wondered if I’ve stepped out of God’s will and somehow caused my own grief. While it is true that sin has consequence, it’s difficult to feel as if you’re dealing with painful consequence while walking upright before the Lord. The enemy wants to manipulate our minds, so it’s important to be aware of God’s mercy and love through tough times. Beyond dealing with your own worries about what is happening around you, it’s even more painful when people with a skewed theology look to place blame regarding the condition of your heart, especially when they have no idea of the details.

Job did not question the position of God. He knew God had answers for his sorrow. This is why he spoke confidently that God was his witness. He knew his Father in heaven was privy to every piece of evidence.

Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.

-Jeremiah 23:23 (ESV)

Whether we like it or not, God knows everything there is to know. Job didn’t need his friends to believe him in order to continue believing in the power of the Almighty. Beyond all this, we have a perspective Job wasn’t able to view: some versions of Job 16:19 say, “Even then my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.” I happen to love that particular translation, because though Job didn’t see the promise of the Messiah fulfilled, we have! We know that Jesus is our advocate! An advocate argues the cause of someone else. Not only does He advocate for us, He calls us friend! (See John 15:15)

“Oh that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleads for his neighbor.”  – Job 16:21

Taking ones needs before the throne of God is the single most powerful and loving thing we can do in friendship. We must pray for one another. This is what Job knew he needed, and let me tell you, it’s a crucial component responsible for the survival of friendship.

Lastly, I want to take a look at Job’s prayer for relief in chapter 17.

Job was weary, so weary. He opens the prayer by saying, “My spirit is broken…” And haven’t we all felt like that at one time or another? This man needed hope in the worst way. I believe hope is built on faith.

Job asks the following two questions in verse 15:

  1. Where then is my hope?
  2. As for my hope, who can see it?

If you are contemplating these questions for your own life, what I really want to say more than anything else is that we don’t have to see hope to own it. I’m going to repeat that one more time because it might take a second to hit home.

We don’t have to see hope to own it.

If we believe in the existence of God, then we believe in the existence of hope. Our God creates possibilities out of impossible, illogical circumstances. The writer of Hebrews tells us…

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

-Hebrews 11:1

So when we ask what Job asked, “Where then is my hope?” there is an answer. It’s in Christ. It lives with Christ Jesus, our living God who is our advocate, and lover of our souls. When we feel like Job felt, wondering where our hope can be seen, we know it is seen in our faith. Hope finds life in our souls when we choose to believe Jesus lived, died, resurrected and ascended. We can own hope. It was given freely to us through the power of the cross.

  • Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” That verse gives comfort because it allows us to be the hands and feet of Christ when others need Him most. Contemplate who you can pray for, speak life to, and minister hope to, despite difficult circumstances. After you pray, do it! Treating others this way not only provides comfort inside our own situations, but it frees us to be who we are meant to become in Christ.
  • In your Bible, please look up Psalm 31:24. Write it in your journal and consider memorizing it. There is power in hiding the Word in your heart!

If you’re a subscriber, I’ll see you Friday on Word for Your Weekend Subscriber only Content! If you aren’t, you are only an email address away from deeper study! Consider joining us!

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week Eight)

Week Eight Study Overview: Today we will pull out some key points of Job’s defense when his third friend Zophar speaks.

Key Point of Struggle: How can I live according to Job 13:15 and truly mean it?

Key Proof of Comfort: Exodus 3:14

Suffering of any kind shines a bright spotlight on the heart. It makes us vulnerable and forces an outpouring of emotion in ways we could have never imagined. We become painfully aware of not only our spiritual condition, but also our human condition.

Recently, I’ve been wishing more than ever I could just go back and change some things. The problem is I live in the confines of time. Time seems like an enemy these days. I go over and over words I said or wish I had said. I’m trying to figure out how I could have changed certain circumstances all the while knowing, deep down, there was nothing I could have done to manipulate the outcome. The hardest part of serving Christ is complete submission to His will, His way, and His time.

The comfort in all this is that He Himself is not bound by time, space, or anything else. Though we must submit to God, He submits to no one. This means there is always hope. We can hope in the impossible, because we serve a God of the impossible. He knows all things, can be everywhere at once, and loves us in a way we will never begin to fathom. He isn’t bound by our definitions or practices. I recall He once said to Moses, “I AM Who I Am.” (See Exodus 3:14) In all my life those words have never meant as much to me as they do right now.

Making space in my head to go back and change things only opens up my mind to overthinking. Overthinking often results in working to enforce head knowledge while eliminating heart knowledge. The mind can be a dangerous place if often left to wonder.

Job’s friends were known for trying to reason, rationalize, and overthink their friend’s situation. They could think of nothing else, so they blamed Job by telling him he must have sinned. Zophar follows the same pattern as his other friends when he urges Job to repent. This is when we see Job’s personality come out in full force. He would not allow his righteousness to be overlooked. Enough was enough.

  • If you’ve not read Job chapters 11-14, now would be a great time.

In the midst of his awful judgment, there was one wise question Zophar asked. He meant it strategically in an attempt to prove his point, which was ridiculous, but we can learn from it. The answer to his question is one we all must come to terms with.

“Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?”

-Job 11:7

The answer is no. It doesn’t matter how much we think about it, study the situation, or even pray. There are some things we are not meant to know. Please don’t misunderstand me. God reveals much of Himself to those who seek Him with an upright heart. However, there will always be deeper wells of who He is that is not meant for us to understand. This is where trust has to dominate.

I love Job’s responses to his friends throughout their arrogant assessments of his situation. He points out, more than once, that he is not inferior to them. You go, Job! I love it! But it’s not really his fight to defend his righteousness that should stir us. It’s what comes next that gives us potential to find promise inside pain.

Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him, even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.

-Job 13:15

Job’s issue was between himself and God. Judgment from his friends proved inappropriate and quite ugly. What we can learn from Job is that he made a decision, and that decision meant trust in a God he did not understand but knew held control of all things. He was not afraid to place himself before the throne refusing to move. God welcomes us there.

These days, I find myself before the throne quite often. With boldness I make my petitions known. And, if I’m going to be honest, I ask a whole lot of questions in the midst of my pleas.

Later on in Job 13, Job asks a beautiful question in the middle of a despondent prayer…

How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin.

-Job 13:23

Regardless of what is going on in our hearts and lives, we must always check ourselves. There are times we might be wrong and not even realize it until we ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Job was wise in double checking. The apostle Paul often tells us throughout the New Testament to examine ourselves. We have to be proactive in keeping ourselves pure from sin. The enemy is sneaky, and he will use every opportunity, especially grief, to turn us wayward.

  • This week in your journal, write Job 13:15 and 13:23. Write a prayer underneath each. Within yourself, concentrate on asking the Lord to help you continue trusting even when it feels like everything is going wrong. Also, ask Him to help you examine yourself so that you might have clean hands and a pure heart before Him.
  • To prepare for next week, please read Job chapters 15-17

I hope you are enjoying the Word for Your Weekend subscriber only content! If you have any questions, comments, or would like something specifically addressed in the videos, please email or comment underneath this post.

If you’re not a subscriber, all you have to do is add your email in the subscribe box at the top right corner of this page. You are only an email address away from deeper study!

 

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week Seven)

Week Seven Study Overview: Today, we will look at Job Chapters 8-10, meet Bildad, and look at Job’s response.

Key Point of Struggle: Sometimes God feels far away.

Key Proof of Comfort: 1 John 2:1

It’s not easy to sit behind my keyboard today. With the click of every button, anxiety tries to clutch my fingers and steal my message. I’m having one of those weeks where grief seems blinding. I can’t catch a break. Frankly, I have no idea how Job did it. Only God.

In this week’s study we meet Bildad. From a parental perspective, this man’s argument about Job’s condition is far worse than the one his buddy Eliphaz communicated. Bildad had the audacity to suggest Job’s children were killed as a result of sin. He acted as if he could read the hearts of those gone too soon. He also used the word if a lot, which seems very passive aggressive. He said things like:

If your sons have sinned against Him, He has cast them away for their transgression.”

If you would earnestly seek God and make your supplication to the Almighty…”

If you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you, and prosper your rightful dwelling place.”

Job must have been much calmer in nature than someone like me, because this mama bear wants to come out with fists flying. I can’t believe Job didn’t respond with something like “If you don’t shut it I’m going to punch you square in the nose!” True friends are careful what they say about their close friend’s children. They love, pray, and guard their tongues. Not Bildad.

Here’s the thing: Bildad kicked Job when he was down and Job was having a really tough time processing. I do need to mention that not everything Bildad said was completely off base. There were nuggets of truth mixed in with foolishness. He said one particular thing I love: “He will yet fill your mouth with laughing, and your lips with rejoicing.” (See Job 8:21) This is so true, and it’s a hope we can all hold tightly.

However, through it all, Job had a question: “How can a man be righteous before God?” He couldn’t rationalize how there could be laughter without righteousness, and moreover, he couldn’t fathom how to truly become righteous. In Job 9:33 he made it clear there was no mediator to help bridge the gap. Job saw a divide between himself and Father God. He couldn’t begin to picture having the ability to cross it.

Friend, I’m feeling the divide. I don’t feel it every day, but today as I’m writing I feel absent of Holy Spirit help. This is a terrible time for me and there are other disappointments happening all around me. They are minor in comparison, but they are painful just the same. It’s easy to feel cast aside and far away from God, but there is good news: Job couldn’t fathom crossing the divide, but we can. Because of an old tree, rugged and chopped, strong enough to hold the weight of a perfect Savior, we can travel over the great divide with hope fueling each step. Jesus is our mediator. Even better, Jesus is our advocate.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

-1 John 2:1

The Righteous One gave us the ability to become righteous. When Job lived this promise hadn’t yet been fulfilled, but because of the power of the cross we can breathe in new life each day. We now have an answer to the same question Job asked: “How can a man be righteous before God?” The answer is Jesus. Only Jesus.

The truth is, I might feel far from God, but I’m not. He’s right here. His Holy Spirit resides in me whether or not I feel Him. My Father in heaven is active in my life, and though it seems I’m standing in the dark, Jesus is here. He is light.

I don’t know your situation, but I do know it’s not too big for God to intervene. He is God of the impossible and nothing can separate you from His love. NOTHING. He is rich in mercy and an expert at filling mouths with laughter… even after deep sorrow.

In our Word for Your Weekend subscriber content, I discussed Jehovah Rohi: The Lord is my Shepherd. A good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. Jesus is the good shepherd, and He gave His life for us. The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. I don’t have to want for anything because He fights for me. My mediator, my healer, my Jesus is my Good Shepherd. There is promise in pain!

May you trust in your Mediator more today than yesterday and more tomorrow than today.

  • Today in your journal, write 1 John 2:1 and list all the ways Jesus has proven to be your advocate throughout life.

If you aren’t a subscriber to Jenniferkostick.com, consider subscribing  and receive video content every Friday. You’re just an email address away from deeper study.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week Six)

Week Six Study Overview: Today we will study Job chapters 4-7 and meet Eliphaz.

Key Point of Struggle: How can we be set free from trying to understand the mind of God? How do we find peace when we don’t receive the support we need?

Key Proof of Comfort: Exodus 14:13-14, Galatians 1:10

  • If you haven’t read Job chapters 4-7, now would be a great time.

One of my favorite things about reading is visualizing the story. I make a movie in my mind and carefully watch every detail. Today, I want us to take a front row seat and watch the exchange between Job and Eliphaz.

Eliphaz was the first of Job’s three friends to speak. Some say he was probably the oldest of the bunch, which is why he was the first to throw his two cents around. Oh, Eliphaz, why didn’t you keep your big mouth shut?

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is a very big part of me that identifies with the way Eliphaz overthinks the situation. This can be a trap inside Christianity; we think we know the mind of God. Personally, every time I think I have a grasp on what God might be doing, He throws me a curve ball. He’s mysterious like that, and I’ve learned to love Him for it. If His logic lined up with man’s logic, chances are there wouldn’t be a whole lot of hope in our circumstances. God answers prayers and sees endings we cannot. He shines light in dark places. We are often so worried about trying to figure out why we’re stuck in darkness that we lose faith waiting to see His light.

Eliphaz couldn’t make sense of a righteous man being forced to endure such horrendous calamity, so he went to the only logical explanation he could think of: Job sinned. You see, we get the full story, so we know Job didn’t sin. We have a Bible to read; we’re a little spoiled that way. We know the end, but Eliphaz didn’t. Instead of seeking God himself on behalf of his friend Job, he jumped to judgment. He even claims to have had a vision. Again, I understand Eliphaz. It’s easy to think we hear from God when it’s not actually God at all. Discernment in this area takes time. It also takes lots and lots of prayer followed by confirmation. According to Job 42:7 I don’t believe Eliphaz actually saw a vision at all. I happen to think that’s why God called out his name specifically when reprimanding the three friends. That’s just my opinion. What I am saying, without a doubt, is that Eliphaz was quick to judge his friend thinking he knew the mind of God. In the process, he only added to Job’s suffering.

Eliphaz also showed some arrogance when he said the following:

“But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause.”

-Job 5:8

Why do we always think we know what we would do if faced with a certain situation? I realize it’s easy to sometimes put ourselves there, but I’ve really been working on praying for others rather than saying what I would do in the midst of circumstances I don’t understand. Friends, it is way easier to look at somebody’s shoes than it is to put them on and walk in them.

After listening to what Eliphaz has to say, Job goes on the defense.

To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend.

-Job 6:14

And everyone who has ever felt let down by someone they love shout’s amen.

Job goes on to defend his ground and put Eliphaz in his place. However, this lack of support was only the beginning. We have two other so called “friends” to hear from.

In chapter 7, Job goes onto explain his physical condition, which is far worse than we can even imagine. This man was suffering deeply both physically and emotionally. The grief from loss was nightmarish, he was facing a breakdown of his marriage, and his friends had turned against him. But the worst thing had to have been feeling as if God also turned against him.

  • Have you ever felt like God was against you? What did you do to try to change your mindset and live by faith? If your mindset hasn’t changed, what can you do now to remind yourself that you serve a God who is for you?

There are so many life-giving nuggets that we could extract from these passages of scripture, but if we did, this would turn into a book rather than an online Bible study. Regardless, I cannot end without quickly recounting a story from Exodus 14.

When the Israelites, led by Moses, were fleeing Egypt, pharaoh’s army was in quick pursuit. The people were full of fear, but Moses held tightly to promise. The Red Sea would split and escape would indeed take place.

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

-Exodus 14:13-14

The Lord will fight for you! Those words live strongly within me today. They shout louder than any evil from grief and hardship ever could. What God promises He makes good on. He will not ever leave His people, and He will never quit fighting for us! There is promise in pain!

When other’s think they understand and are quick to judge, bless their hearts, there is another word spoken from the apostle Paul’s pen to which we can cling.

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10

In that particular passage, Paul is speaking of not giving into sin just because it’s accepted by the world. The Galatians were quick to accept false teaching. However, I think we can also see those words from Paul as helpful in this circumstance.

It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes people are only trying to help with their words, and there is no malicious intent. When struggling something dark, it’s easy to become upset with those who have good hearts yet choose poor words. We need to keep an open mind and heart. However, regardless of our circumstances, pleasing God must be our goal.

Through the midnight hours, fight to please God. He is fighting for you. Jesus is there with you even when you feel alone. In all honesty, there are moments I feel alone through my grief. I wonder why God is allowing so much pain, but I also know He hasn’t left. Just because I don’t feel Him every moment does not mean He isn’t there. He understands our suffering and He is our Comforter.

  • In Job 6:11 Job asks a question that I want to examine: “What strength do I have that I should hope?” We have Christ who is our strength. In your journal, please answer this question with your own words using scripture to remind yourself of the strength you have in Christ. Whenever you feel discouraged, you can revisit it for encouragement.
  • For next week, consider reading chapters 8-10 as we prepare to meet the next “friend” to speak.

On Friday’s Word of Your Weekend subscriber only content, I’m going to speak about prayer and what I’ve learned to do that has strengthened me during this time of deep grief. It involves using the names of God, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

If you would like to subscribe and receive the video teaching, just add your email in the subscribe box at the top right of this page. You are just an email address away from deeper study.

Love,

Jennifer