“You want me to do what?” -
Delighting in hardship
How we love to praise God when our bank accounts are full, our relationships are enjoyable, and the world around us has a rosy tint. It’s so easy to lift Holy hands up to the Redeemer when we’re basking in the nearness of the sun’s warmth on those lofty mountain peaks. However, the majority (or so it seems) of our lives is spent in shadowy, rain-drenched, valleys and many of us spend more time in rain-mingled tears than exuberant delight while there. Though it is “only human” to get down when things are low, we need to realize that we’re of better stuff, we’re more than conquerors (Romans 8:37), a Holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). As such, we need to curtail the “natural” only-human flesh and exist with complete focus in the Spirit.
Every person reading this could enumerate a humongous list of valley tragedies, wretched heart-wrenching circumstances and Faith crushing (seemingly) situations. We’ve all had our bad times, but before we settle in on self-pity and misery, let us realize, in complete awe, that Job had it way worse! Of course, people tell each other that all the time, as if that should alleviate our heartache, when in actuality, most of us easily dismiss the thought. We all know the things he lost and the attacks on his health, but there’s one verse in Job that will blow your mind (maybe there’s more than one, but for the sake of this piece, please humor the author).
If you’ll turn to Job 1:20 you’ll discover something absolutely radical and quite frankly, unimaginable. Job had just been informed that he’d lost all his flock and more importantly, all his children! This is something very few who claim the Faith could endure. There’s no question that Job was emotionally destroyed upon that horrid news, yet, after shaving his head and covering himself with ashes he does what most of us would deem unthinkable, the Scriptures tell us he fell down and worshipped! Dare we imply here that most of us would rather curse God and die, as Job’s wife later suggested he do (Job 2:9), than get on our knees and tell Him how marvelous He is.
If we’re to be honest, we discover that our circumstances reveal our Faith-maturity. Babies, toddlers and children derive great pleasure in getting what they want from their parents, just as we delight in mountain-top gifts. However, should the parent remove anything desirable from that wee-one’s hands, great screams, tears and tantrums ensue. Such is the case with us when tragedy (in any form) strikes if our Faith has not progressed past the milk-stage (Hebrews 5:13). We see that Job’s wife was but an infant when she made such a recommendation to her horribly suffering husband. Herein lays a rebuke, not just for her, but for anyone who has a hissy-fit, gets her panties in a wad, or any other statement that describes a self-righteous, I deserve better, tantrum when God allows affliction to fall. Job says to her (and us, as we’ve previously stated), “You’re talking like a foolish woman, should we accept good from God and not bad?” (2:10).
When we’re living lives marked by mature Faith, the storms can come very near to our sinking boats, the winds can torture the structures of our lives, but we are able to remain steadfast in our understanding that the King of the Universe is in control. Remember, the winds and the waves obey Him, and so does every other aspect of His creation. So, the next time your Faith is tested, remember Job and fall down and worship your Mighty King even in the midst of your pain.