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

 

 

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

There is Promise in Pain (Week One)

Week one study overview: Today, we will discuss the uncertainty surrounding what we know about Job, and then jump into chapter 1.

Key Point of Struggle: How can a just God allow such unjust circumstances?

Key Proof of Comfort: Romans: 8:18

Have you ever felt like Job? After my stepfather died, suddenly at the age of fifty-eight, I remember having a day where the anxiety from grief was so tortuous I thought I might jump out of my skin. I laced up my tennis shoes, walked out my front door, and took off running. I’m not a runner, so you can only imagine the burn in my lungs mixed with persistent urges to vomit along the way. Grief attached to my soul like super glue and was relentless in the fight of letting go.  I felt a little like Job that day.

Believe it or not, there is a benefit to experiencing grief. It has potential to drive us straight into the arms of Jesus. Through my own experience with grief, I’ve learned that God is for me. As a result, nothing else has a chance against me. I make my residence on victorious ground. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a battle taking place, but it does mean the cross already declared victory. Nothing has the power to steal it from me. And nothing has the power to steal it from you, either.

Job’s struggles were very different from ours. As much as I’ve felt like him at times, and I’m sure you have, too, there is no comparison. Jesus has always existed, but in Job’s time period in history, our Savior hadn’t yet come wearing flesh into the world. The resurrection and ascension hadn’t happened yet. Our Father God is a good Father, a merciful and loving God, so I have no doubt Job knew what it was to be in relationship with his Father. We see that in the text. However, I also know hope doesn’t hold the same definition when the cross is absent. Because of this, Job had it much, much tougher than us.

From the get-go, there’s a whole lot of uncertainty swirling around this man named Job. There is no genealogy at the beginning of his book and the brief mentions found in Genesis, 1 Chronicles, and even James do not give us much insight as to the stock from which he came.  Scholars argue over the true meaning of his name, and there is no conclusive evidence as to where his homeland of Uz was located. In addition to all that, we have no real, sufficient answers as to who wrote the book bearing his name. Job is a bit of a mystery.

Spiritual knowledge tells us the Holy Spirit inspired someone, and that someone wrote a story full of lessons that would teach generation-after-generation to have mighty faith in a God who holds everything together. Job lived through trauma like none other only to come out whole on the other side.

It appears to me that the author, whoever he was, grappled with the idea of a just God allowing unjust circumstances. He couldn’t understand how a man, who was faithful to make atonement not only for his sin, but the sin of his ten children, would have to endure such hardship. And, friend, don’t we all wrestle through seasons with that very same question in mind? Sometimes it seems as if God just stands there and watches us suffer. We beg for intervention only to receive the loudest silence we’ve ever heard. In the weeks ahead we will learn all about suffering, silence, friendship, faith, trust, and hope. We will examine the words God spoke to Job, and hopefully, through His word, we will hear Him speak to us.

Let’s get started.

In the beginning of chapter one, we learn Job was an upright man. The text actually says he was blameless, feared God, and shunned evil. The writer goes on to tell us he had ten children and a very large household including much wealth. But then something peculiar happens in the story; it shifts to the throne of God and those who were present there.

The Bible says the “sons of God”, who were angelic beings, were gathered. The interesting part is that among those godly beings, evil lurked. Satan stood in the midst.

We are going to investigate this section of scripture and when we do you’ll see that God asks Satan a question. This is intriguing to me, because God knows all things, which means He already knows the answers before He asks the questions, but He still asks. And that particular characteristic of God doesn’t just show up in the book of Job, we see it all through the Bible. Let’s take a closer look at this conversation.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”

So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.”

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

-Job 1:6-12

It’s almost as if Satan is taunting God, and God responds with certainty knowing that above all else Job will be faithful. God was proud of the humble and upright man Job was.

This is very difficult to understand because if the Bible says God is for us, then why would He allow a righteous Job to endure such suffering? I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you this: “My Servant” is a title of honor. I believe God wanted the opportunity to brag on Job’s character, letting the enemy know that not everyone falls for his schemes. James the half-brother of Jesus has this to say:

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

-James 1:12

The truth is we live in a sin-soaked world, and because of Adam and Eve’s first bites in the garden we will endure affliction. Not because we did anything wrong, but because evil lurks. Whether we realize it or not, we are at war with that same evil every day. The big difference between Job’s life and our lives is that our hope comes from a place of grace. The shed blood of our Savior flows down in the form of grace giving new life and hope to grief-filled places.

In all this, we must recognize that God is God. He gives and He takes, but it’s never for nothing. He doesn’t just stand by and watch us suffer. We will find proof of this as we deepen our study of Job.

I know this is a tough section of verse to comprehend. Because of that, we are going to stop here for today. If you are a subscriber, you know I’m taking what we are learning each week and expanding it in something we call “Word for Your Weekend.” If you want access to this, consider subscribing to the blog. This Friday, I’m going to tell a story about a time in my life where I had to tell myself day-after-day that God was bragging on me. If I didn’t, I don’t think I would have made it.

  • As a faith building exercise, please read Romans 8:18 and write it in your journal. Consider committing it to memory as a reminder that whatever it is you are enduring isn’t for nothing. it’s never for nothing, friend! Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:18 helps focus our eyes on the future He has for us.
  • Please finish reading Job chapter 1. Next time we will step into his world and watch what happens as his suffering begins to unfold.

 

Love,

Jennifer

Sunday is Here to Stay!

Sunday is Here to Stay!

I often wonder what it would have been like to occupy earth with Jesus before the cross. Would I have followed Him or turned away? In my mind, when I place myself in the multitude, I’m no more than a woman intrigued by a man who looks familiar, yet different. In the middle of my wondering, healthy fear begins to rise because of the uncertainty of who I would have been. I’m overtaken by what ifs…

What if I was overly sensitive or easily offended? What if my very existence defined the word skeptic? What if I didn’t like what I heard, turned around and walked away? What if I never looked back?

Once again, in my mind, I see Him there in the midst of the multitude. He’s preaching and teaching, giving away everything for every soul. I’m still there hanging onto every word while peeking behind a tree, hoping not to make eye contact, because what if He decides to speak directly to me, and what if I don’t want to accept His truth? The next thing I know, my wondering walks me straight into Peter’s shoes. What if three steps on water turned into a three time betrayal of everything holy? Here’s the question: if I were there, one of them, would I have believed?

After the resurrection, there was evidence of an empty tomb and full hearts. To this day it remains. However, we are living in a world wanting to omit what we should amen. Truth can’t be changed and yet we’ve practically made an Olympic sport out of trying.

Today is the Saturday before Easter. Two thousand years ago on this day there was a heaviness of grief that tried to choke out life and hinder hope. But little did those believing souls know what would happen only one day later. Throughout the in between time, inside the solitude of a lonely Saturday, there was a baptism happening. The heavy tears of grief baptized every heart of those who would forever stand for the peasant king, once dead yet coming alive, in preparation of purpose, second chances, and the hope of living holy.

I want to believe that had I been there, I would have given my heart while standing in the multitude, and I would have followed Him to the cross, been dumbfounded by an empty tomb, and baptized by grief in waters of tears so deep that I would have used every last breath in my mortal body to share about the immortal Savior.

Dear friend, Sunday isn’t only coming, it’s here to stay. There will be no more darkness because Light has resurrected. May you amen the hard words in His book so the sweet ones can be sweeter. May you live and love and find freedom in the midst of a world who wants to live for themselves rather than for a God they cannot see. May you know that when deep grief wants to settle inside your bones, you can be baptized by your tears because your Savior lives and breathes. He’s working for you, and He will never stop working for you. But make no mistake, He already won, which means you’ve already won, because Sunday is here to stay.

 

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

Do NOT Lose Heart

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.-2 Corinthians 4_16

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

-2 Corinthians 4:16

“Therefore, we do not lose heart.” The apostle Paul was a very matter-of-fact kind of guy and when it came to faith in Christ, there was no arguing anything the Holy Spirit guided Him to write. “We do not lose heart.” Translation: there’s no other option but to march full steam ahead in faith.

In the middle of life’s upheaval, that command isn’t easy to follow. This is why so much of our faith in Christ must be rooted in discipline. After all, the word disciple comes from the word discipline. We must discipline ourselves to follow Christ. So, how do we not lose heart? How is it possible to live victorious in the middle of trials and tribulations? It’s a faith journey, friend, and we are all on one.

Faith comes by hearing the word of God. (See Romans 10:17) Hearing, and hearing, and hearing some more! Over and over again we must discipline ourselves in the word of God that we might gain faith by connecting to His message on the pages. (As a side note, I believe in reading the Bible out loud whenever possible. It helps!)

Whatever it is you’re facing today, it’s part of your faith journey and the story of that journey is being written each day as you take steps in confidence that God is big enough, strong enough, and capable enough. He is enough.

Listen, I know it seems ridiculous that my answer to your trouble would be to hear the word  of God and actively pursue a faith journey. But I have no regrets in saying it. As absurd as it sounds, we have no other choice. There is no other road or way that will lead us to peace. There is no other form of healing or help. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.

I love the way it’s phrased in the King James Bible:

My Help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

-Psalm 121:2

There’s no doubt about it, right? My help cometh! It’s coming!

Think about this: What if we all allowed our tragedy to fuel our trajectory, leading us to deeper faith and complete peace regardless of the circumstances?

Therefore, we do NOT lose heart.

Love,

Jennifer

I Didn’t Know What to Say…

I Didnt Know What to Say._

For two weeks I contemplated a Mother’s Day post. I desperately wanted to write something encouraging mothers to continue seeking Christ for their children. I needed to convey they can climb mountains steeper than the steepest on record. I think I felt stirred to say this because there’s a lot of writers out there trying to pound the following thought in our heads: We can do hard things. Yes, of course we can, but in all honesty, we don’t really have a choice, do we? We are often forced to face challenges we never thought possible. When I was newly married, I remember hearing sad stories about events that rocked the worlds of other people, but I never thought that level of suffering would ever touch my life. Until it did…

Paul and I have been through some tough stuff and we live to tell the story. That’s how I know there’s a God, by the way. There’s no way to endure the kind of grief capable of hollowing out the entire heart without Jesus. No one can change my mind. Jesus saves and He’s skilled at healing the hardest of hurts.

The reason Mother’s Day posts are always difficult for me to write is because when I was practically a baby myself, my husband and I welcomed our first baby, a healthy son. After that, we endured five miscarriages and stillborn baby girl. Obviously, my heart is bent towards women who suffer miscarriage and stillbirth. It’s not only the death of a baby, it’s the death of dreams and hopes for the future. It’s hard. However, Mother’s Day travels a course that covers quite a massive expanse of the heart. I have to be honest and say that even though I know what it is to suffer loss, and years of secondary infertility in between, because of the word secondary, I don’t fit in the traditional category of infertility. There are lots of women out there waiting to become a mother for the first time, and even though I know more than I like about loss, I really don’t understand their pain.

Many of you who read my blog are Jesus loving women who serve tirelessly, love wholly, and give more than you have to help others. Yeah, God sees it.  And because I know we’re on the front lines of ministry together, let me pass on something I’ve learned throughout the years… One of the first lessons we all need to comprehend as we begin ministering out of past grief is that it’s okay not to understand someone else’s pain.  And, guess what? it’s even more important to admit it. That’s when the real ministry begins.  Pretending we can identify won’t get us anywhere. Some of the wisest words to ever leave our lips are, “I don’t know; I don’t understand.”

Some of the wisest words to ever leave our lips are, “I don’t know; I don’t understand.” (Tweet that.)

Here’s the good news: God does know; He does understand.

The Bible tells us God is love. He actually is love. Crazy, right? And because God is love and we love Him, that means our willingness and obedience to minister to hurting hearts is enough for His love to bridge the gap between what we don’t understand and what someone else is living through.

For many, Mother’s Day isn’t all brunch and beautiful sentiments. Instead, it’s sorrow and suffering. Friend, if that’s you, then I’m sorry and if your pain comes from a place I cannot identify with, then I want to tell you this: I don’t know and I don’t understand, but God does and He wants to heal you. And if you’re wondering how and when? Again, I don’t know. But you have to believe. You have to. Really.

I don’t know if sharing this might help or not, but the other day I was talking with my oldest son, who is now twenty-three, and all I could think about during our conversation is that He’s my unsung miracle. We tout the twins as our miracles because of the fifteen years of pain that produced the story of their lives, but my oldest son lived in a womb that ended up to be anything but a safe place. After he was born, the babies conceived there didn’t stand a chance. My body rejected them. My oldest son is a true miracle.

What does this have to do with you? Well, regardless of the specifics of your battle and the emptiness you might be facing, I believe there is a miracle living and breathing around you that you don’t even recognize as such. We are often so focused on what we need that we forget to give thanks for what we have and would never want to live without.

Every care we have is being cared for by our Creator. Let us give thanks.

Yes, we can do hard things; we can climb the steepest mountains, but only because He gives us the strength to do so. There’s no other choice. We cannot give up; we have to fight. And we will. So whether you’re enduing something hard or ministering to someone who is, it’s okay not to have the answers. It’s okay not to understand, because we serve the One who does.

And sometimes, it’s okay for an encourager not to have words for her readers on Mother’s Day. Some of you are hurting, and I didn’t know. I just didn’t know what to say…

I love you,

Jennifer

 

 

Two Pieces of Wood…

JenniferKostick.com

Lately, I’ve been traveling from point A to point B without knowing how I arrived there. The last couple months of my life have been insane.  The journey of seminary has been beautifully overwhelming and Lord knows this blog has been quieter than ever before, but through the mountains and valleys, I’m finding peace by learning how to manage chaos and embrace a new normal.

Good Friday would have been Dominic’s 60th birthday. As much as I wanted to share with you what God’s been doing, pressing my fingers to the keyboard to type just didn’t seem appropriate. Sometimes we need to be emptied out to fill back up. I’m full again.

Like most of us, I spent Good Friday feeling grateful for the work of the cross. I’m still amazed that two pieces from a tree were large enough to build a bridge to heaven. As I pondered the agony of my Savior, I was able to thank Him for making this world connect to the next.  Because of Jesus, death is never the end, it’s only the beginning.  Yet, even though I’m fully aware of the hope He suffered to give, I’m also aware that in the name of grief, the enemy tries to block hope. And the more I work to process this, the more I realize it’s because tragedy usually chases us to seek Jesus like never before. If grief keeps us away from Him, then hope slowly dies, but if we allow it to pull us closer, then hope becomes the great resuscitator. And, Lord knows, I often find myself in need of serious hope resuscitation!

I know it sounds strange, but losing those we hold dear awakens us to the eternal hope of what lies ahead. If we never faced adversity we might not ever experience dependence on Him, or desperation for Him. Listen, I firmly believe we need to need God through the best of times as well as the worst. And I believe many of us do praise Him in all seasons, but pain tends to show us how much deeper we can trust and how much stronger we can reemerge.  It doesn’t even have to be a major tragedy, one minor disturbance in life and the next thing we know our pull to faith and holiness is magnetic. We are quickly connected to the Father without any realization of how we got to Him so fast.

I was in the word constantly when Dominic was taken suddenly to heaven, and I still found myself gripped by the magnetic pull of seeking Jesus more than ever before. This leads me to believe that hope is found in the darkest of places, not just when things are better than ever and life is going our way. The very best parts of hope are found in the dirtiest, ugliest, and most unexpected places. Real hope is found in the grimy bits underneath the grossest garbage. And isn’t it something, that’s where treasure is found too!  Priceless finds are usually covered in dirt. Friend, when you choose hope, you choose life. When you hold hope, you hold everything!

Good Friday should have been a very bad day for my family. Instead, we rejoiced, each in our own way, because we believe firmly in the hope and magnetic pull of a God that says, “I want you closer, closer, closer still. “ Hello, Romans 8:28! And, in the middle of all my daily chaos and uncertainty surrounding how I’m making it from point A to point B within life’s responsibilities, I want to be overwhelmingly aware of what it is that leads me to my Savior.

Maybe today I can challenge you to do what I’m working hard to do myself. I never want to live one day void of hope, and because of that, even in tragedy, I’m learning to find my voice of praise. It seems to speak loudest inside dark places. Yours will too!  I’ve also been focusing on the vows I spoke to my husband so many years ago at our marriage ceremony.  I believe they should be what we think of when it comes to our commitment to Christ. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness in health, Dear Jesus, I do.

Never have I ever been so grateful for two pieces of wood.

How was your Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday?

Love,

Jennifer