"What do you [God] gain by oppressing me?
Why do you reject me; the work of your own hands,
while smiling on the schemes of the wicked?"
Job 10:3 NLT
Confession time: When I opened the Bible app last Friday to find that we were heading into the book of Job, I wasn't thrilled.
Job is so gosh darn agonizing to read. And dramatic. And disconcerting.
It's a lot of things, really.
While I've never had my farm animals stolen; my children crushed; or broken out in unbearable boils, I do know what it's like to lose everything dear in life.
When I was a teenager, my parents divorced and life as I knew it forever changed. Everything I had ever known and loved seemed shattered to pieces, irreparable.
At 16 I found myself shaking my fists at God and demanding answers, much like Job.
Because also, like Job, I had a skewed view of God.
I grew up religious, and much like Job's friends, the church and my incorrect assessment of the Bible told me that I must have done something to deserve this punishment. Understandably, I pulled away.
But I was wrong.
And so was Job.
The advantage we have in reading about Job's life is we see the behind the scenes.
Job 1 seems like something out of a sci-fi film, as we find Satan approaching God, I imagine with a sly up-to-no-good smirk on his face.
"I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that's going on," Satan says.
Then the Lord asks Satan, "Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless-- a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil."
Wow. Just wow.
What if Job knew that God had said such honorable things about him?
What if Job had the insight to understand that God was allowing these things to take place in his life not to punish him, but to prove his character?
While the events to follow would still have been painful, I think Job would have found shelter in God from the get-go, instead of the drama that ensued.
The same goes for my story.
(Hindsight is 20/20.)
I wish I understood then what I understand now-- that divorce was never God's plan A. But He allowed those trials to happen my life to refine me because He loves me.
Isaiah 48:10 says, "See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."
God wants to see what I'm really made of. When all the niceties of life fade away, and He is all that remains.
Spoiler alert: God eventually answers Job's challenge. 28 chapters later He "answered Job from the whirlwind", putting an end to Job's pity party pretty quickly and silencing the "wisdom" of his friends.
Job encountered God.
And his response? "I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance."
In times of trouble I must trust that God is good (Psalm 145:9) and He is good to me (Romans 8:28).
God does not punish His children; He proves them.
He tested Abraham loyalty when He asked Him to sacrifice Isaac. He was proven a wholehearted follower of God by his willingness to sacrifice his own son.
He tested Ruth, a young widow who had every right to play it safe and return home to her family. She was proven noble by her resolve to stay with Naomi and care for her.
He tested Joseph when he found himself engaged to a pregnant virgin. He was proven honorable when he chose to obey God, despite public shame.
Man, I wish I had the knowledge 16 years ago that I have now. But that's the essence of wisdom- it comes with experience.
It only seems appropriate to wrap this one up with one of my favorite, most encouraging verses that I've come to experience firsthand- James 1:2-4, which says,
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
Trials don't define us, they refine us.
Dwelling in Him.
A little about me...
Hi, I'm Katie!
Wife to Craig, mom of three, author, writer, Jesus-follower, Bible teacher, and coffee enthusiast.
Follow me as I follow Christ and share my heart throughout the journey.
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