Getting through hardship
When I think about a person in the Bible who went through adversity, Job comes to mind. Job loved God a lot, and God was so proud of Job. Nonetheless, we know that Job went through a lot of hardship. Job lost his family, his household, and his wealth. He also lost his health. Finally, Job has nothing left but the ashes he is sitting in and his boils. His body was covered in boils. Somehow, God; a good, merciful, gracious, God, still allowed the hardship to happen. Job’s wife and friends tried to advise him on how to deal with the difficulty. They told him two things:
1. Give up
His wife told him to curse God so God would kill him. That’s how she thought he could escape the adversity. She told Job to give up; to end his process and not see it through. Job refused to curse God’s name, and he kept searching for an answer to why God would cause him so much pain. Sometimes we see people turn away from God when the storms come. Their foundation is not in Jesus’ teaching, and they give up.
If you know anyone who has given up, please encourage them to turn back to God and let God help them. Let’s help our friends build their life on Jesus’ teachings.
Job’s friends tried to convince him that he must have sinned against God, otherwise God would not have allowed tragedy to happen. THIS IS FALSE! Let me make this very clear; I am not against repentance, but in this specific instance it implies that God is the initiator of chaos, which He is not. Chaos is in our world because we live in a fallen world. Natural disasters; Storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, happen because sin and death is already in the world, not because of people’s individual actions. Sometimes chaos can be self-inflicted, still God is not the initiator of chaos. God is FOR people, not against people. God is not a God of punishment; He is a God of salvation, love and mercy.
Job’s perspective of God was that God equally gives but also takes away. He began his suffering with saying: “The Lord gives and takes away,” as if God was the one who intended all these sufferings on Job. Yet, the Bible clearly states that God does not take away his blessings; God only gives. Jesus clarified the difference between the Pharisees & Teachers of the Law and himself: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10-11)
Job’s math equation did not add up
If God is only good, then why does He allow suffering? While Job was mourning in the ashes, he demanded that God explained Himself to Job. To Job, his suffering was like a math equation. As if he was requesting a bill with specific charges, he had prepared an answer for each charge. Like a verdict from his Judge; he confidently expected to be declared innocent. In Job’s head, it all came back to sin; being punished for sin. But, God’s answer to Job had nothing to do with Job’s sin. It had to do with God’s sovereignty and character.
Look at me
Suffering in our world is a product of Adam and Eve’s sin. God allows suffering, just like He allows free will. He is merciful, which is why He doesn’t just rid the world of evil—cause if He did, He would have to get rid of humans as well. God chooses mercy. His mercy helps us THROUGH the suffering, just like God also helped Job through the pain. God said to Job: “Don’t focus on the pain. Focus on me. Don’t look at yourself. Look at me. See who I am. See me, because I am above your misery (paraphrased).”
Job 38:19 “Where does light come from, and where does darkness go?
Can you take each to its home? Do you know how to get there?”
God was pointing out his sovereignty. Job was so stunned by God’s response that he replied:
Job 42:2 “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
God permits suffering, but through it, God also allows us to see His face! I would dare to say that it is in our suffering that we are the closest to God. He allows us into a deep relationship with Him so He can guide us through the misery. He encourages us to worship Him in our suffering. God permits pain, but He uses himself as the cure.
Adversity makes us stronger
Final thoughts: I once read that “adversity, hardship, and difficulty write our story, and if our response is right, the story will be good.” If we focus our eyes on God, the pain won’t necessary go away, but it will become much easier to handle. Another quote I know is: “Hardship will either become a stumbling block or a stepping stone.” OUR response is in our hands. Hardship either breaks us or makes us stronger. With God’s help, you can become stronger than your suffering.
May God show you His face through your adversity!