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

Why We Can’t Escape Suffering…

Grace and the flower photoIt’s lovely outside today. The sun is shining and spring is teasing us with her sweet scent and sunny skies. This winter has been long, dark, and messy. I’m excited to welcome flowers and fresh air. It’s time for something new to bloom.

I can’t help but think there are a whole lot of you suffering and wondering why. You can’t figure out how you ended up in the place where you are. You are doing what you know to be right and still feel as if your “bones” are broken.

I recently had the opportunity to share on Psalm 51:8…

Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice.

-Psalm 51:8

David wrote Psalm 51 out of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. Nathan the prophet was chosen by God to point out David’s sin to him. When David finally recognized the error of his ways he said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13) And then Psalm 51 was birthed.

It is out of a repentant, humble, heart that David’s words encourage me. Our weakest moments tend to move us closer to the Creator.

It is usually through the groan of life that we are able to stir others. (Tweet that)

It’s obvious that the broken bones David endured were because of his bad judgment. But what about Job? Job chapter one clearly states he did nothing to bring on his pain and loss.

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

What about Job’s bones? They were broken too…

I studied those two stories last week. I poured over them and pondered God’s intentions. One did wrong; the other did right. They both lost children. They both suffered “broken bones.”One of the largest questions asked of Christians is: Why do people following Christ and doing “good” still suffer? I had an epiphany.

As Christians we are meant to live the character of Christ. We do our best to emulate His actions. The goal is to become more like Him and less like us. So, if we are to live a life emulating that of Christ, then how is it possible to escape suffering? It isn’t. Why? Because if Christ couldn’t escape suffering, how can we?

 

38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.

-Mathew 26:38-39

Christ was rejected, betrayed, abandoned, abused, and made to die on a cross. He was perfect, yet He suffered. Though grace abounds through the One who gave His life for us, we will still face pain. We live in a world full of sin which we cannot escape. However, we can become closer to our Father through our suffering and He can make us hear joy and gladness. It’s a gift.

I suffered 5 miscarriages and a stillborn daughter. I did nothing to cause such losses in my life. I cried out to God to make me hear joy and gladness. Without his grace there is no way I would have ever experienced true joy again.

Through devastation there is a beautiful opportunity to move closer to the One who calls us beloved. Today, I live a life wholly devoted to Christ because of the joy and gladness I heard during my sorrow. It was in my darkest moments that He revealed His light.

I don’t know where you stand today. I don’t know where you’ve been or what you’ve faced. Maybe, like David, your trial is a consequence of sin. Maybe, like Job, you’ve done nothing wrong at all. Either way, His grace is sufficient for you. You don’t have to feel guilt or shame because He died for YOU. You can hear joy and gladness. He can make you hear it. He is pursuing you. He loves you that much – enough to chase after you through hurt and shame, through grief and pain.

When your marriage is suffering and your kids make you crazy. When your friends abandon and you feel like you have nowhere to turn. You do. Throughout every tear we cry and horrible situation we face, the Maker of joy and Deliverer of peace has a gift for you. It’s called grace. It breathes freedom. It brings hope. And it’s for YOU!

You are loved even in the midst of broken bones…

May the sweet scent of a teasing spring carry with it a fresh rain of grace, and may healing bloom in your heart.

Love,

Jennifer

I’m linking up today with Holley Gerth to encourage through Coffee for Your Heart. Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

 

 

Who is This God of Mercy?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

I’m sitting here wondering what to write. As I look out the window I see my husband happily playing with our children. Some parents are looking through rubble to find theirs tonight. My heart hurts for the ones who feel forgotten. Who is this God of mercy? Where is He in the storm?

The children who perished in the Sandy Hook shooting… Where was He then? I’m sitting in my comfy leather chair sipping coffee. My greatest worry right now is what the scale might say tomorrow morning. It’s shameful. I feel guilty, guilty that I don’t want to suffer anymore grief, guilty that I don’t want to be in their shoes. And I’m ashamed for feeling this way. I’m Saddened to admit it.

I want to bear burdens. I can and will cry for those who suffer. I will shout to God and beg for His goodness to show itself. I don’t understand Him, but I know He is near. Sweet Jesus, why so much suffering? I’ve asked Him that question a million times or more in this short life of mine. He says, “Pray.” So I am. I’m praying hard and long. I’m lifting my voice to the heavens and asking comfort for those who need it. When I’m done here, I will sit at my piano and allow praise to leave my lips while I saturate the keyboard with tears.

Psalm 10:1

Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?

David was transparent with God. He was a man after God’s own heart. He knew he couldn’t hide his feelings from the Almighty. What would be the point? No one can hide anything from Him. Darkness tries to hide and cannot. He knows all and is All. David asked questions, but in the midst of the questions, David trusted God.

My conclusion is this…

Every time I suffer and learn of horrific anguish and hurt in this world, I think of my Savior suffering for me. I think of His perfection and the injustice He faced to save my undeserving soul despite His sinless life. I think of a Father Who watched His only Son beaten and hammered to a cross. I think of the tears He must have shed as He traded the life of His Beloved for those He wished to call His beloved. If only we would choose Him…

Our God knows suffering. He is near to the brokenhearted. He will bind their wounds. I don’t always understand why or how, but I know He is Faithful. I know He is Just. I know He is Truth. And because I know, I will continue to believe…

2 Corinthians 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.

Pray for Oklahoma…