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 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 Five)

Week Five Study Overview: Today, we will discuss chapter 3 focusing on what Job speaks after seven days of silence.

Key Point of Struggle:  Why does it seem we were born for nothing other than enduring trials?

Key Proof of Comfort: 2 Samuel 22:26-34

If we could time travel and watch Job during this period in his life, we would probably become miserable while waiting for him to speak. God knows our modern day addictions to status updates and Instagram stories would have us pacing in frustration. From what we know, he just stayed put for seven days without a word. Not. One. Word. Through the sound of silence we would witness him scrape boils, suffer fever, infection, and deep pain from head to toe. Could we even stomach it? Would we, like his friends, have thought: what did you do, Job? What curse have you put on yourself?

You see, it’s easy to condemn those three friends, but it frightens me to think it’s entirely possible I may have reacted the same way. We will deal with that subject matter in the coming weeks. For now, anticipation builds as we wait for this poor, suffering man’s words to formulate. As the overwhelming silence of seven days comes to a close we quickly learn that, unlike the end of chapter one, there was no falling in worship. In fact, Job seemed to put the focus more on himself than God. He cursed the day he was born.

  • If you’ve not read chapter three, now would be a good time.

As we read, we find that Job started questioning why in the world he was ever born. I’ve been through a lot in life; I’m suffering deep grief at this very moment. In all honesty, if I envision myself standing there with Job at this time, I’m in agreement shouting, “Yeah, God, why?” And Guess what else? My fists might even be raised.

When my son was a teenager he was going through a difficult circumstance. In the middle of it he lied to me about something. I was irate. I found myself so angry that I stood up and lunged at him. (This, by the way, is not my normal temperament. Frustration found me empty and needing control of something I had no control over whatsoever.) Anyway, I went to grab him, but he was quicker and grasped my hands first. He tried to apologize for lying, but I continued yelling. He remained even tempered while repeating “Mom, mom, mom” over and over again. He was standing calmly as I was flailing around fighting against his strength. In that moment, I realized something very quickly. My son was much taller and much, much stronger than I. He protected himself by gently grabbing my hands and holding them in place as I lost my ever-loving mind for about sixty seconds.

Though the situation is much different, when I dare to put my fists to the sky, I picture my Father in Heaven doing the same thing my son did. He gently grabs my fists and speaks, “Daughter, daughter, daughter” until my spiritual sanity returns. As a result, my fists-to-the-sky moments are becoming less and less. Why in the world does our humanity want to fight a God who is already on our side? We often think that just because God is on our side, we shouldn’t have to endure hard trial. The truth is that because God is on our side, He’s gifted us endurance. We, no doubt, will suffer trial. However, we will have the ability to endure that trial. Why?  Because He is who He says He is.

“With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; with a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; 27 with the pure You will show Yourself pure; and with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. 28 You will save the humble people; but Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down. 29 “For You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness.30 For by You I can run against a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall. 31 As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. “For who is God, except the Lord?  And who is a rock, except our God? 33 God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect. 34 He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places.

-2 Samuel 22:26-34

God is our strength and power. He’s everything we need to fight the battles we face. I’m learning, especially through this current round with grief, that my fists need to be open palms of surrender lifted humbly before my King. Friend, He’s everything He says He is and so much more. We don’t need to curse the day we were born. We are warriors meant to declare victory through each and every awful trial that comes our way. We are meant to find purpose and promise in every moment. As we continue to study, we will view Job as he comes into full recognition of his purpose. There is promise in pain. Really, there is.

  • Please look up Romans 8:31 and write it in your journal. What does it mean to you in your current circumstances? Write about it.
  • For next week, read Job 4.

For those of you who are following along with the subscriber only Word for Your Weekend content, this week’s video will be surrounding one statement that Job makes in chapter three. I can’t get it out of my head, and if you deal with fear, it might help you in your struggle.

If you aren’t a subscriber and would like to receive this content, just enter your email in the subscriber box on the top right of this page and journey deeper with us in the study of Job.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: I recently wrote an exclusive piece for iBelieve on 3 Tips to Help You Cope with Grief. You can read it here.

There is Promise in Pain (Week Four)

Week Four Study Overview: Whether we are the mourner or the comforter, we must ask for wisdom through grief.

Key Point of Struggle: How do we comfort others through deep grief? How do we accept comfort through deep grief?

Key Proof of Comfort: Genesis 37:36

When we last saw Job, he was having an incredibly difficult conversation with his wife who advised him to curse God and die. After that, the text invites us to meet his three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.

Upon introduction, we learn these friends made an appointment to come together and comfort Job. When they caught sight of him, even from a distance, they began to cry out, tear their robes, and sprinkle ashes on their heads. This tells us two things: first, the sight of Job was frightful. Second, the friends followed strict tradition.

Do you remember when we talked about Job’s response after losing his children? We discussed the tradition of tearing the robe and shaving the head. In this scenario, Job’s friends were also following tradition. And then we learn something else…

When they approached Job, they sat next to him and said not one word for seven days. In my opinion, this is the best thing they did throughout their entire stay with Job. However, there was a reason why they had some wisdom in this area.

The Talmud is an important collection of rabbinic conversations discussing law. It is a book of study, and according to the writings within those pages, Job’s comforters would have been adhering to tradition. Comforters were not supposed to speak until they were addressed. This gives us some insight into Job’s disposition at the time. He didn’t communicate to these three men for seven days, which says a lot about the agony he was enduring.

I don’t know how you handle grief, but I like to be silent. I don’t mind texts or an occasional phone call or even a visit to check in, but for the most part, I want to process alone. I don’t want to congregate when feeling my lowest. Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to receive comfort because in all truth, I only want to receive from God. I know He’s the only One who can help me.

If you’ve followed my writing for any length of time, you know three years ago, July 16th, my stepfather died suddenly of a heart attack. For a long time, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I hated accepting help, and in all honesty, I just wanted left alone. Two weeks ago, on July 19th, my brother died unexpectedly, and this time, unfortunately, I’m well trained in grief. To shut everyone out not only cuts myself off from support, but it also makes others feel as if they aren’t welcome in my healing process. When people make a contribution to aid in grief, they heal inside as well. Everyone needs to be part of something bigger, and grief caused by death creates opportunity for community to rise up.

I’m smack-dab in the middle of grief right now. The kind that keeps me awake at night unable to turn off my brain- The kind that makes me not eat, or eat too much –  The kind that makes me want to cut myself off from the whole world as if I can run, find my brother again, hold him tightly, and fix everything. And the worst part of this pain is the knowledge no one can help me.  I, most certainly, have no control to help myself. Only God.

In the story of Joseph, there’s a moment after his brothers sell him into slavery where his father refuses to be comforted. The brothers led him to believe Joseph was dead. And while his brother’s allowed their father to grieve heavily, we learn something else, somewhere else, was taking place.  In Genesis 37:36 it says, “Now the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard.”

I have the word now boldly italicized because it’s key in God’s plan.

You see, other translations use the word meanwhile, which holds the same connotation as the word now in this context.

  • In the meanwhile, God is working.
  • In the meanwhile, God is able.
  • In the meanwhile, God never leaves us.
  • Even NOW God is faithful!

God was working a greater plan for Joseph in the midst of sorrow. Friend, I have to believe the same is true for me right now. And, for you!

If you are the one grieving, allow your community to rise up. It provides opportunity for the Spirit of God to move in other lives through your tragedy. If you are the one comforting, be a gentle support, not offering too much or too little. Ask God to give you wisdom.

Job’s friends were at their best when they quietly offered support for seven straight days.

On Friday’s Word for Your Weekend subscriber only content, I’m going to talk about a recent encounter I had with a friend who offered quiet support. We will talk about prayer through grief, and what we can do both as comforters, and grievers, to truly allow peace to fill us. If you aren’t a subscriber and would like to receive this content, just type your email address in the subscriber box on the top right corner of this page.

  • As a faith building exercise, choose one person you know who is enduring grief. Write a prayer for them in your journal, and pray it over them each day. Consider sending a text or handwritten card in the mail to let them know you’re thinking of them and praying peace in their life.
  • To prepare for next week, read Job chapter 3.

Love,

Jennifer

There is Promise in Pain (Week Three)

Week Three Study Overview: Today we will look at the relentless pursuit of the enemy against Job, and the response from his wife.

Key Point of Struggle: Why must we deal with consistent attacks?

Key Proof of Comfort: Isaiah 41:13

For those of you who are not blog subscribers, I announced something very painful in Friday’s subscriber only Word for Your Weekend content: my brother, who was only thirty-three years of age, died suddenly and tragically Wednesday, July 19th. All the principles I spoke about in the video I must once again put into practice. Grief is all consuming right now. I feel like I’m living out of my body, but I have to continue writing this study. God knew what he was doing when He led me to write about Job. He knew what I didn’t, and I won’t allow what He wants us to learn about Him be interrupted by grief. I’m going to warn my subscribers that I will probably look like a hot mess in Friday’s video content. I am honest, and I will honestly walk with you during this stage of my life as we open the Bible together and study. Please pray for me.

Job chapter 2 opens at the throne of God. Once again, the sons of God are there and the enemy is lurking in the midst. We see a familiar scene play out as God offers Job’s name, but this time He throws in Satan’s face that even though he did not deserve the affliction he was forced to endure the first time, he didn’t turn on Him. Job proved to be faithful. That, of course, wasn’t what the enemy wanted to hear, and so he responds with this retort: “Skin for skin.” Satan wanted to disease Job’s body saying, “Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.” Physical pain is torture, and the enemy thought for sure it would be a pained, sick body that would turn this trusted servant of the Almighty away from Him. God tells Satan he can have Job, but he must spare his life.

I need to digress for a moment and say that today I feel like Job. Over the last few years, I’ve experienced deep loss stacked on top of other loss, stacked on top of more. I keep fighting from my place of victory knowing that even though I must fight battles, Christ already won the war. But, friend, I’m growing weary. Not in the way you might think. I’m not losing faith. I know and believe God is good and only does good. I believe there is promise in pain, and I will die saying it. However, if I’m honest, I’m tired. I’m bone tired of the fight and the tears which have poured from my body freely over the last few days should be the quota cried in a lifetime. I feel like God keeps allowing tragedy and that the enemy of my soul wants to steal everything from me. Mostly, he wants to destroy my willingness to minister and go where God calls. My brother was young and handsome, a soldier in the United States Army. He suffered from P.T.S.D. and fought a hard battle. He also knew Jesus, and I believe God was on a rescue mission when He took him home. But I’m left behind. My mother is left behind. Job was left behind. I’m identifying all over again.

Stepping back into Job’s world, we watch as he’s struck with boils all over his body. The Bible says:

“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.”

-Job 2:7-8

I don’t want to dig into the description of what these boils would have looked like and done to him. If I did, you might very well lose your lunch. Let’s just say it was ugly, agony and Job actually needed to grate them from his body. A potsherd is a piece of pottery. This means Job had a broken piece of pottery and was using it as a tool to scrape his body while sitting in the midst of ashes. Job was a tortured man.

Friend, I don’t have boils all over my body but let me tell you my heart feels as if it’s covered with them. My tears are hot, they hurt, and they are aiding in the scraping of those boils. Have you ever felt like this? If so, hold on tight because God is our refuge and He will prove to hold us up with His righteous right hand. I know He will.

Next, we meet Job’s wife. We don’t have a name for her. We aren’t privy to anything about her life other than this small passage of scripture.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

-Job 2:9

I feel terrible for Job’s wife. I think she gets a bad rap. Let us, for just one moment, put ourselves in her shoes. Job lost ten children. Who was the mother of those children? Job’s wife. Job’s wife lost her children, her wealth, and now her husband’s health. She didn’t know which way was up, and faced a grief spiral so deep she couldn’t fathom how to crawl out of it. I’ve often identified with her. What about you?

But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

-Job 2:10

There’s something we need to look at closely in the above scripture, because the way I see it, two words invite us into the nature of Job’s wife before trauma. I have two words boldly highlighted in Job 2:10. Those words are as one. I believe Job was bringing to her attention that she was speaking as other foolish women, maybe women they knew, and by using those words as one, he was communicating that this was not her normal behavior. In other translations he uses the word like. “You talk like one of the foolish women.”  Job’s wife was grief-ridden, and I think we need to give her a break from judgment.

Job then goes onto speak wisdom that her vision was obviously too grief-clouded to see herself. “Shall we not accept adversity?” I almost always use the New King James Version of the Bible, but I love the way the question is phrased in the New Living Translation: “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”

And that is where I am today. I’m asking myself that question. I’ve been through enough grief to know there is no cursing God. I can’t, and I won’t. I love Him too much, and I trust Him with everything. But who wants to accept adversity? We pray for good because it is good things we want and expect from a good God.

I have another question to pose… Who can decipher what is really good or bad when it comes from the hand of God? I told you earlier that I believe God is good and only does good. This means there are things we cannot see happening all around us. God is orchestrating a greater plan. I know that to be true. I have no idea what it is right now, but I believe it.

I’ve done a lot of study over the years, and I know I deserve death and hell. However, Jesus came so that I wouldn’t receive the punishment my evil heart deserves. Mercy triumphs over justice when we call on His name. And let’s not forget the last part of the above scripture “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” I’m standing on Job’s ground right now refusing to sin and committing to trust Jesus further. What about you?

On Friday, in our subscriber only content, I’m going to share about what the Lord is speaking to me through my current grief. We will talk about our definitions verses God’s definitions, and the Righteous right hand holding us. I’m not really sure what emotions will surface when I turn the camera on, so please bear with me.

  • As a faith building exercise, please look up Isaiah 41:13 write it in your journal, and think about what it means for you in your current struggles. Journal about it.
  • For next week, please continue to read the rest of Job 2. We are preparing to meet his friends.

If you are not a subscriber and would like to receive Word for Your Weekend subscriber only content, please enter your email in the box on the top right hand corner of this page. You’re just an email address away from deeper study.

Please pray for me; I need it.

Love,

Jennifer

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week Two)

Week Two Study Overview: Today, we will step into Job’s world and watch him lose everything he loves.

Key Point of Struggle: How is it possible to worship through such tragedy?

Key Proof of Comfort: John 16:33

I’m actually at the point where I feel like I know Job personally. When I read the text, it’s as if I’m watching his story unfold right before my eyes. It’s almost like I’m right there with him when his world flips upside down. As we study, it’s important to find a way to connect with who we’re learning about. With all my heart I believe this man, Job, lived and breathed, and when we can attach ourselves to his life, we open up our hearts to deeper study.

My youngest children are eight year old twins, and when we talk about life and purpose, I always tell them the most important thing they can ever do is to make Jesus famous through their lives. Any gift they have is from Him and they must return it in praise. To me, nothing else matters. And I want nothing else to matter more to my children than their God. Job made God famous through his life, and it’s an honor to dig into his story so we can learn about our famous One.

As I step inside Job’s space in time, I see him sitting down. I don’t know exactly where he’s sitting, or what the background looks like surrounding him, those details are sketchy for me, but I do know he was seated. I know this because later in the story the Bible says, “Job arose.”  As he’s seated he receives four visitors, all there to share devastating news. Before one messenger can finish, another barges inside interrupting him with more tormenting information.

I imagine Job’s eyes looking upward from one person to the next in complete dismay. He’s confused as his brain works quickly to process his present situation. Throughout the first three encounters, he remains exactly where he was seated, but then the fourth person enters and things take an intense turn. When the news of his children’s death, all ten of them, is delivered, the Bible says that he arose, tore his robe and shaved his head. I imagine him bolting out of his seat, frantically looking for tools to help him in those acts. It’s terrifying to watch his immediate suffering, but there was a reason why he did this.

In Job’s day, shaving the head was a customary sign signifying destruction and disgrace. Job communicated deep grief by this action, but to me that wasn’t even the intense part. It’s what came after the robe tearing and hair cutting that blows my mind. The word tells us he fell to the ground in worship. What? I know, right?!?! I don’t see him neatly on his knees. I picture his body thrown to the ground in a face-to-floor position wailing the following words…

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb. And naked shall I return there, the Lord gave. And the Lord has taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

-Job 1:21

I’m pretty sure this is the part in the story when we all tilt our heads in a gesture of confusion. Other than his wife, Job lost everything in the blink of an eye. In a situation where I think most of us would be overtaken by the shock of it all, Job had the presence of mind to remember God. He was able to recognize His mighty hand in the most terrifying scene of his entire life. And then what comes next is almost inconceivable.

In all this job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

-Job 1:22

I think tragedy brings out truth. It definitely births character. In my most devastating circumstances I asked God to help me, but I also asked the question why a lot. I certainly know what I didn’t do. I didn’t immediately fall to my knees in worship. I wish I could say I did, but sadly, I never even thought of it.

When calamity walks through the door, it’s very important to have a firm foundation. Otherwise, the earthquake it brings with it will tear everything down. What we know about Job’s life is that his relationship with the living God was built on a solid base of truth. That truth was so thick that it arose in strength when he fell to his knees. That’s not to say the emotion and trial of what would come next wouldn’t cause Job to feel the quaking, but we will see it won’t be enough to break the firm foundation.

Over the years, I’ve often thought about the day I learned my daughter was stillborn. I wonder what it would have been like if my first thought had sent me to the ground in worship…

33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:33

I’m still at a loss as to how Job reacted the way he did all those years before the cross. For me, it proves the disposition of our Father in heaven to forge relationship with His beloved. Even before the cross Job had a love for the Almighty. The cross clears my blurry vision in the midst of horrific situations. Job didn’t have that luxury. Jesus came so that in Him we could find peace. He told us there would be trouble, but He died so that we could stand firm in the midst of suffering.

Trial will come; tribulation will come, but it’s okay. Why? Because Jesus already came.

 Jesus came to give hope to the hopeless and life to the dead. May we all look at Job’s reaction and learn something mighty. Let us strive to worship in the desert the same as we would in land flowing with milk and honey. Let us learn to exalt God for who He is rather than what He can do. And let us trust in the only real hope we will ever know: Jesus.

  • Please read Job 2:1-10 in preparation for next week. Think about Job’s wife and give some thought as to how you feel about her reaction to Job’s circumstances. Journal about it. She will be a focus of next week’s study.
  • For a faith building exercise, write John 16:33 in your journal and consider memorizing it. I believe hope and peace is more easily activated when we remember what Jesus did and why he did it.

Every Friday, I provide extra content for my subscribers in something we call “Word for Your Weekend.” This coming Friday, we will expand this lesson with another scripture and discuss how God helped to change me from the inside out when my reaction to tragedy wasn’t nearly the same as Job’s. If you aren’t a subscriber and would like to receive this extra content, please enter your email in the subscribe box on the top right of this page. You are welcome here!

Love,

Jennifer