Two weeks ago, we took a look at Job’s suffering and questioning and the counsel of his ignorant “comforters.” Finally, tired of their useless ramblings, God breaks in and assures them that only he knows everything that can be known. In fact, only he holds in his hands the explanation for all that happens. We don’t, and can’t!
Last week, we focused on the bedrock truth that we all fall back upon when we have no other understanding of our own lives and troubles—Psalm 100:5: For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
In other words, when, in despair, we run out of human theories about why this or that happens (or doesn’t happen), we can rest in the truth that God’s character never changes, and that we can absolutely trust in three things—his goodness, love, and unfailing faithfulness, no matter what! In the end, we discover, through going through the valleys and coming out safely on the other side, that we don’t need to know more than that.
Yet even during our trials, God, in his mercy and care, still grants us more insights into some of the lowest points in life. In their clearest form, it comes in the New Testament, spelled out in passages like 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
And, again, in 1 Peter 1:3-9:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
This coming Sunday, focusing on these verses and those saints who have endured to the end, we’ll be discovering some of the whys and why-nots of our troubles in this world. To the cry, “Why is God doing this to me?” we learn from the first Christians that all the ups and downs, twists and turns, and everything else in this roller-coaster ride has a solid purpose and, ultimately, a very happy result. How can we be certain that God hasn’t abandoned us? Because we read, Jesus wept (John 11:35).
Just stop and think about this revolutionary and unique idea: God, our Father, and Jesus feel our grief and loss as much as, or even more than, we do. If you hurt, God hurts. If you’re shedding tears, the Creator of the universe not only knows all about it, but weeps with you.
When our minds and hearts assimilate this fact, it will begin to transform what’s going on inside us. In our sorrow, we may blame, accuse, and even resent God—not knowing that he is weeping with us and bringing a day in the future that is far better than we had ever imagined. Isn’t it better to know this hope right from the start than to waste much of our time in despair and hopelessness?
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. -Psalm 62:1-2
Photo credit: Mike Page