I bet you can guess the one person from Scripture I've been thinking a lot about over the past month...
You got it! JOB.
His story is pretty fascinating (depressing, but fascinating none the less). Here's a guy who lost everything, I mean... everything! He lost all his livestock - his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, and his camels; he lost his servants... that's all his livelihood. He lost his sons; he lost his daughters; he even lost his health! He got painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. The only thing he didn't lose was his nagging wife and his judgmental friends. Can you imagine? What a bad week!
I can't help but empathize with Job. He's a guy who's just doing his best to serve the Lord and then... wham! life takes a completely unexpected detour. He's hit with pain like he's never experienced before and I can't imagine that he didn't have a million questions for God in the process. His head must have been spinning! Then, on top of it all, his wife tells him that he should just curse God and die, and his friends are convinced that he must have sinned to deserve such punishment from the Lord. I mean, wasn't he already beaten down enough by his circumstances?
Yet, Job did the unexpected (or maybe it's better stated - he didn't do the expected). Job 1:22 says, "In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." Then in 2:10, he goes on to say something utterly profound... "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" That single question hit me like a ton of bricks. Will I soak up all the good God has for me, but then shake my fist and rail against him when trouble comes? May it never be!
Beyond that one life-shaping question, there are some important things I've learned from my partner in suffering, Job. First of all, as the readers of this tale, we have a distinct insight into the back-story. We see Satan going before the Lord. We see God almost bragging to him about Job's righteousness and we see God giving Satan permission to bring demise to Job as a test of his faithfulness. The one thing I never really recognized before this is that Job is not given that same insight. In fact, through fourty-two chapters, he's never given that insight! Job just finds himself square in the middle of unforseen and inexplicable circumstances. He finds his world rocked by pain and loss, and he's never given the answer why. Yet, through it all, he does not sin. In fact, he worships God in the midst of his anguish!
How does he do it? I mean, did he not have any feelings or doubts? Was he some kind of super-believer or something? I don't think so. I think Job was an everyday kind of guy with feelings, doubts, dreams and fears... just like the rest of us. Job was a man who made a choice. He was faced with suffering like few people have ever known and he made a choice. He chose to remain faithful to God.
In the midst of my own trial, I've come to realize that I am who I am based on my choices alone. I can choose to be angry about my circumstances; I can choose to let them bring me down and be depressed; just as well, I can choose to thank God for all things in my life - good and bad; and I can choose to remain faithful and worship him. I never realized before this how much of my faith really comes down to a matter of my will. In every circumstance I face, whether good or bad, I choose how I will respond to it. So, in this circumstance, I choose to keep my focus on my God. I choose in faith to believe that he's working something greater through this. I choose to worship him in the midst of my suffering.
What about you? Every one of us faces trials. Every one of us has some kind of difficult circumstance in our life. What will you choose in the midst of it?