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

There is Promise in Pain (A New Study Announcement)

Today, I’m thinking about all the things holding us back and hurting our hearts. As I study, I hear a whisper inside – a commencing of conversation. “There is promise in the pain.” “Oh, Lord, can You tell me who wants to sift through piles of ashes to find beauty?” “Oh, Jennifer, Can you tell me who else would have sent their only Son to die so you, and everyone else, have opportunity to find it?” Ouch. Checkmate. “Okay, I’ll get my shovel. I have promise to uncover.”

As I sit here writing and praying, you are on my mind. I picture you alongside me in your own pit of ashes desperately seeking to unearth your promise. And for every one of you who are working with shovels in hand, I see others helplessly sitting with no idea how to begin finding what lies underneath. I’ve been there, too.

For the months of July and August we are going to study Job. At one time or another we’ve probably all felt a little like him, so why not step into his world and learn? Are you with me? Do you need to find promise inside the pain? Do you often feel a lack of certainty in your circumstances?

All of my studies are usually published on Wednesdays, but for the rest of the summer, not only will we have our regular Wednesday study, but we will also have what I’m calling “A Word for Your Weekend.” This portion will be for email subscribers only. The content won’t be found anywhere else.  Friday’s entries will be a mix of short videos and blog posts, maybe even a printable, meant to encourage you in everything we’ve discussed the previous Wednesday. It’s meant for faith building, helping you dig deeper in study.

If you’re not a subscriber to my blog, let me encourage you to sign up. The Studies are sent directly to your email. We also have a lot of changes coming to the blog in the near future. Subscribers will be the first to learn about these changes and participate in what’s coming!

This coming Friday, July 7th, there will be a special introduction into the life of Job. Only subscribers will receive it.

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.

-Job 1:1

I’m looking forward to trekking through the life of Job with you!

Love,

Jennifer

 

He Promised

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John 14:18

I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (N.K.J.V.)

Comfort drips like honey from those words.  John 14 is an amazing chapter because of the introduction of the Holy Spirit as a Helper. However, I love to connect with the human element: the confusion and impending heartache of the disciples trying to piece together where their beloved Jesus would be going. In John 13:37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” After this Jesus goes on to predict Peter’s denial of Him.

Although the disciples could not yet grasp the concept of what was actually going to happen, Jesus is assuring them of His return which was by way of the resurrection. He is comforting them with the promise that He would not leave them orphaned. He was coming back!

We can hold tight to this same promise. Wherever we are, Jesus is there. He will not leave us. There is nowhere we can go that His love cannot reach. He WILL come.

When I study specific passages from the Bible, I look them up in several translations to see if one speaks differently to my heart. I want you to see the translation for John 14:18-20 in the Message Bible.

John 14:18-20

I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you. (M.S.G.)

When I read the words, “And you’re about to come alive.” I felt a quickening of the Holy Spirit in my heart. At the mention of Christ, how can we not come alive? When we think of His sacrifice enveloped in his undying love for us, how can we not come alive? He died that we might live.

Regardless of how alone and empty you might feel, I want you to know He will NOT leave you orphaned. He will come to you. Call on His name. Seek Him and you will find Him. Let not your heart be troubled.

C. S. Lewis said, “He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.”

He died for you. If it helps, look in the mirror and say, “He died for me.”

If it were only you, you would have been enough for Him to endure the cross. He won’t leave you orphaned. He promised…

My prayer for you today is that you cling to the promise of His presence in your life.

Remember you are not an orphan. At the moment you accept Him in your heart and life, you are a child of the King!