Thursday, August 4, 2011

There Once was a Man....

“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"
Job 2:10

I am apart of a support group for mothers that have suffered losses through stillbirth, miscarriage, infertility and failed adoption. My heart literally breaks hearing each story and how they have had to suffer through all of the emotions that go along with this type of loss. We all can easily relate to each other’s stories. These women are full of hope and strength. They are also very humble, genuine and they welcome me into the group with open arms. Some of them are still trying to get pregnant while a few of them have healthy and happy babies in their arms. I think of other people in the world that have to suffer unimaginable things. It brings me to the question, “Lord, why do some of us have to go through challenging circumstances and others do not?”
There were several moments in my grief I would question God’s love for me.  At the time, I found it difficult to understand why others were blessed with children while I was left with the desire to be a mother and empty arms.  By no means am I saying that I am not happy for people that have their children safely in their arms. I would not wish this type of loss on anyone. However, at times, I would wonder what I had done to deserve this sadness and loss.
This brings a story to mind about a man named Job.  For those who don’t know, Job was a man that was considered “blameless” in the eyes of God.  In other words, Job was probably a better person than anybody you or I know.  What happened to this “good man”, however, was not so good.  In a very short period of time, Job lost all ten of his children, his health and his wealth. As if that wasn’t enough, his wife left him.  The introduction in my Bible describes the book of Job as “an exploration of righteous people who not only are not rewarded, but who actively suffer, through no fault of their own.” This is quite a traumatic journey that Job has to go through to answer his most pressing questions on loss and God’s judgment. It also helped him find a love and dependence for God that he never realized he had. In the end, Job came to the most basic of conclusions; God is the creator of the universe.  What gave Job the right to question His motives or plan. God is God and He will use whatever He can to teach us something about ourselves. Job had to lose his whole family, his wealth, suffer from physical ailments and had to deal with a not so encouraging circle of friends to get to these truths. They preached the message of how God punishes the wicked and rewards the good.  Even his wife was discouraging. She advised him to curse God and be done with Him. She wondered why he was still being true to God after all of this suffering.  But Job knew better and his reply is something I try to embrace everyday; "You're talking like an empty-headed fool. We take the good days from God—why not also the bad days" (Job 2:10)?
Job was a righteous person. He treated everyone with love and respect. He was also obedient to God. He is described as a God fearing man. This is not the kind of fear with think of, but a respect, adoration and an awe that Job had for God. He wasn’t afraid of Him, but He knew God was an all-powerful, all knowing being. Job put God before anything else. He most definitely had his priorities in line. Job loved God and God Job.  But let’s be honest, would any of us still love God if He took away everything we owned and loved?  Job’s trial, although extremely difficult to fathom, eventually revealed that his love for God should be unconditional.  It should not be based on what God has or hasn’t done for him today.
My Bible asks the question, “if goodness is always rewarded, how can it be known whether anyone is ever good out of love for God, rather than out of a desire for a reward?”  Most of us subscribe to the “prosperity gospel”.  As long as we are doing good works by going to church, saying our prayers, giving to the poor, etc., we will have a right standing with God and will be blessed with many rewards. All of our dreams will come true, right? Not in Job’s case. He felt this in the beginning, but his experience helped him see life through a different lens.
Job went through a whirlwind of emotions, many questions and several doubts. He wondered what he had done to deserve all of this and at times was in complete disbelief of what had transpired. He even cried out to God to take his suffering away, but God was silent. But as Job suffered through his circumstances, he continued to search for God’s wisdom. Eventually, Job began to open his heart to the fact that God was present and loved him, even in his suffering and disbelief.  This fresh perspective helped Job gain a new outlook on suffering, perseverance and patience.  Perhaps Job, “Mr. Blameless”, realized that “good deeds” weren’t enough.  Perhaps it became obvious to him that we can never be good enough.  Although Jesus wasn’t in the picture yet, Job’s story makes it that much easier for me to understand and appreciate what Jesus did for me on the cross.  He bridged the gap between us, and our heavenly father.
This story encourages me to embrace the fact that God knows what I need better than I do. I don’t want to be fearful throughout life waiting for this so-called storm that I have put in the back of my mind. I can be confident in knowing that I do not have to understand God’s motives, but trust that He is strengthening, maturing and growing my faith with any circumstance He gives me. 

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