There is Promise in Pain (Week Fifteen)

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

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

Key Proof of Comfort: Job 41:11

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

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

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

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

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

God never leaves.

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

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

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

My favorite question comes in Job 38:4…

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

-Job 38:4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Job 40:4

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

Our comfort comes through the following verse:

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

Job 41:11

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

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

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

Love,

Jennifer

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

There is Promise in Pain (Week Fourteen)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Job 37:14

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

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

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

-John 10:10

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

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

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

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week Thirteen)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Job 27:3-6

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

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

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

-Job 28:28

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

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

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

-Job 29:2

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

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

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

Our obedience led by faith will secure righteousness in Christ.

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

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

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

Love,

Jennifer

3 Truths Breathing Life into Weary Lungs

I rarely write on other topics throughout a Bible study series, but there’s something I need to share with you today. I hope you’ll find some hope through this post, because it comes from the deepest, most tender place inside my heart. I have a very strong feeling there are a lot of people who, like me, are struggling. Maybe you’re one of them. If you’re not, maybe you’ll choose to share this with someone who needs it.

__________________________________________________________________

I have a lot to say and rarely know how to say any of it. Last week, two women showed up at my door to share their faith, and though my belief system is much different than theirs, I was confused as to how to communicate what I wanted to say. I shied away from a God-given directive to invite them to my table for coffee. As I closed the front door, choosing not to extend an invitation, the Holy Spirit conveyed this thought: “I don’t need you to defend me, Jennifer. I only need you to show I live inside you.” Though there is no condemnation in Christ, I still felt as if I’d failed.

These days, I often feel like a failure. My mind is overrun with thoughts of not writing well enough, speaking well enough, parenting well enough, and the list goes on. I’m living with anger, fear, and good-old-fashioned remorse. I’m not who I was and can’t seem to figure out who I am. I find myself looking at the sky asking, “What is it? What do I need to know, so I can feel like me again?”

I walk around angry inside and no one knows it. I attend functions, and smile for selfies, without allowing a hint of the crumbling happening way down deep to show. I laughingly play with my kids and make my family dinner all the while feeling lifeless inside. I’m not upset with anyone in particular, and I’m not at all faulting God for any of this. It just so happens, like many others, I’m on the battlefield of life. This particular battle might just be the toughest one I’ve ever fought. The struggle to choose joy is real.

However, when I find myself overthinking how I feel, the wind blows…

I’ve been fascinated with wind for several years now. We see the power of it inside storms and feel its gentle breeze when our skin needs cooled. The Hebrew word ruach literally means wind, spirit, or breath. Because of this, every time the trees move I picture the breath of God. All through the Bible we see the significance of the Almighty’s breath. In Him we live, move, and have our being and it’s all because our God breathes.

I’ve been in need of some spiritual resuscitation, and there are three pieces of truth continuing to breathe life inside these weary lungs.

  1. I don’t have to be enough, because He has always been enough for me.

This can be tough to comprehend, but it is what it is: We weren’t meant to be enough on our own. It’s the mighty power of God that equips, making us conquerors. It’s never about us and always about Him.

  1. I breathe only because He gave me breath.

We breathe because He allows it. It’s that simple. The most incredible part of this is He knows each one of us, and purposed before time that we would carry His breath in our lungs. Anyone who has ever walked this planet was chosen by the Almighty.

  1. The one who designed redemption is more than capable to redeem my pain.

In the midst of grief, the only reason my mind is sound is because He makes all things well. Believe me, I look at my situation and question the meaning of redemption. I don’t see it, but I know He redeems everything. I have to trust in His blueprint of restoration regardless of how much I wish I could have drawn the plans. My human condition cannot begin to engineer any worthwhile design at all. Christ alone.

I lost my brother this summer, and with him went part of me. I’m learning how to be an only child. I feel a little lost and a lot confused. I won’t ever be the same, but I must stand up and start shouting hallelujah!

You see, I’m not meant to stay the same on this earth. Comfort cages, cages confine, and as much as I loathe suffering, I don’t want the Spirit of God inside me to be soft, sweet, and content. I want the Spirit of God inside me to be a raging wind. His breath blustering through my lungs is all I want. It’s His life-giving power that transforms, heals, and overflows into other lives. I need to shut down all other feelings. What about you?

Dear friend, regardless of what you’re going through, do not allow horrific change to hinder your growth. Instead, let it propel you forward into the arms of the only One who can give you spiritual CPR and heal you from the inside out.

Do not be contained; be contagious.

  • Your hope is in Christ.
  • Your life is in Him.

And it all starts with the power of His breath.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

In Greek, the word transcends means to throw over or beyond, to run beyond.

  • However you feel today, run beyond it.
  • Whatever your circumstances are, run beyond them.

Run into the wind… into the mighty breath of God.

Love,

Jennifer

There is Promise in Pain (Week Eleven)

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

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

Key Proof of Comfort: Psalm 118:19

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

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

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

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

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

-Job 21:7

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

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

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

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

-Job 21:15

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

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

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

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

-Psalm 118:19

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

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

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

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week Nine)

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

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

Key Proof of Comfort: Proverbs 27:17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Jeremiah 23:23 (ESV)

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

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

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

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

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

Job asks the following two questions in verse 15:

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

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

We don’t have to see hope to own it.

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

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

-Hebrews 11:1

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

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

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

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

 

 

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week Eight)

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

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

Key Proof of Comfort: Exodus 3:14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Job 11:7

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

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

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

-Job 13:15

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

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

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

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

-Job 13:23

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

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

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

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

 

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

There is Promise in Pain (Week 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 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