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 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

What it Takes to Boldly Approach the Throne (Part Four)

If you are new to studying with me, welcome! For some tips to help you gain the most from what we are learning together, click here.

This month our study is focused on prayer and what it means to come boldly to the throne of God.

Week Four Study Overview:

Today, we are wrapping up our series on prayer by discussing what it means to pack up pieces of pain.

Key Point of Struggle:

Why am I always given a bunch of Christian cliché’s to deal with the hard things of life?

Key Proof of Comfort:

Psalm 23:6

I’m slowly working my way through Lysa TerKeurst’s book Uninvited. In it, she has a chapter titled When Our Normal Gets Snatched, where she tells the story of a friend who went through a divorce and was forced to move from her home. The last item to pack was a wedding portrait. Lysa’s dear friend called her and posed this question: “What do you do with the things that have no place anymore?”

I was struck by that question because in life we’re always packing for something. Maybe it’s for a vacation or an address change that requires suitcases and cardboard boxes. We clean out the closet or basement where there’s been an over-accumulation of stuff. Or, much worse, maybe we’re forced to pack away friendships, marriages, or the death of someone we love deeply. We hit the unfriend button, speak through legal representation, or pack the left behind contents of life belonging to one who moved to eternity. If there’s anything of which we can be certain, it’s that there will be seasons of packing, and it won’t always be for a tropical trip.

I’ve been spending time preparing for a teaching series, and I keep coming back to one solid point that won’t ever require packing away. God will never leave us. Go ahead; take a moment to allow those words to sink deeply inside. Let them settle in peace. God will never leave. Not ever.

Throughout the month of June we’ve been looking at some powerful prayers, and there’s one particular Psalm written from the hand of David that begins with declaration, turns to conversation, and ends with powerful affirmation.

Let’s look at Psalm 23 and then single out one verse in particular.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

-Psalm 23:1-6

 

Now let’s look at the last verse one more time:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

-Psalm 23:6

I want to tell you this: whatever you find yourself packing away at this time in life, know that God is with you. His goodness and mercy will follow you every day of your journey on this side of heaven. Even when you cannot see or feel any indication of His presence, He is still there.

  • In your journal, write this familiar Psalm, highlight verse 6, and then list everything you’ve already done today or will do throughout the rest of the day. Look for purpose in every moment, every activity, and every breath. Write about it, and then choose to stand strong in truth knowing you have a God who will never leave.

Lysa’s friend asked what to do with things that no longer have a place. There are no easy answers for that. Let’s just be honest and say that when life is hard, the last words we want to hear are a bunch of Christian cliché’s strung together to make us feel something we don’t. But, do you want to know something else? It doesn’t change the fact that Jesus refuses to leave us, won’t forsake us, and wants us to pack all the things that no longer belong in our lives inside His life. When we do that, we will gain strength that has no other explanation except the supernatural. We will stand on truth that comes solely through faith alone.  A cliché is a bunch of overused words and expressions. The truth is if you want peace, then you need to overuse the Bible. Whether or not you find what’s in it to be nothing more than a plethora of platitudes or not, if you need to find life, you’ll find it in the pages of that ancient text.

Go boldly to the throne, hand over the packed up boxes of grief that no longer have a place and gain strength. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but you were made for hard things.

Love,

Jennifer

It Takes Courage to Believe

fall road_nWhen Paul and I were living the nightmare of infertility and pregnancy loss , I memorized Joshua 1:9. It’s one of my absolute favorite verses.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

-Joshua 1:9

After putting those years behind us and reaping joy from our tears, I quickly realized that I wasn’t finished fighting battles. New issues continually arise and we will be forced to suit up for combat all over again. We live a cycle of joy and pain. It’s a wheel that never stops spinning, and courage is a must.

I’m big on memorizing scripture and then quoting it in the face of adversity. What I’ve learned overtime is that when I’m having a panic-filled, anxiety-ridden moment, I’m not always able to think straight enough to retrieve the Word from the files in my memory. However, there are a few that I’ve quoted so often, that they remain burned on my brain. Joshua 1:9 is one of those scriptures. It applies to all different kinds of circumstances. No matter what it is that might be trying to rob my peace, I say it over and over again. It’s not a quick fix. It’s not as if I speak the words and everything that has caused me angst disappears. However, I choose to believe that God is working in my situation, I choose to believe His Word paves a path for me, and I choose to believe it will lead me to a place of shelter from the storm. So much of life is about choice and perspective.

I’m praying for courage, because I have some opportunities that require bravery that can only come from God. And I don’t know what cycle of life you are in right now, but I have some encouragement for you: If you’re in a season of pain, I want you to know that joy can coincide. And when you throw courage into the mix, then look out! Nothing can hold you back! Our greatest strength rises from our deepest pain. So, friend, choose courage. Fight your war with the Word of God. Choose to believe there is joy somewhere inside. There is hope.

I need some courage, and I bet you need it too, so let’s pray for each other.

Be blessed and have a wonderful weekend!

Love,

Jennifer

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31 Days to Surviving the Battle:For When You Feel You Can’t Make It (Day 17)

City building blog photoRegardless of how much progress you’ve made on the battlefield, there will be moments when you feel you cannot go any further. Let me share a secret: you can make it, and you will!

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected;
but I press on, that I may lay hold of that
for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;
but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

– Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)

I wrote a piece for (in)courage based around this scripture. You can read that here.

Sometimes right before the finish line, we feel as if we can’t continue – not one more step, not one more ounce of pain. It sears deep in our souls and we want to collapse, but it’s not an option. It can NEVER be an option.

Right before I had my oldest son (if you are unfamiliar with my story, I struggled with secondary infertility), my mother-in-law told me, “Just when you feel like you cannot bear the pain anymore, it’s almost over. Remember that.” She was right.

When giving birth, those final few moments seem like an eternity. Just when the pain level becomes more intense than ever anticipated, the baby makes a grand entrance and it’s all over. Every single second was worth it in the end.

You must reach forward regardless of how much pain you are enduring, or how tired you are from the race. Regardless of what your specific battle is, you must press on.

However, pressing on requires a decision – an active choice.

Make the decision to press on, dear friends. Press on!

Love,

Jennifer

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