I have been doing a “deep dive” into the book of Psalms this summer and ran across this troubling thought in Ps. 60:3: “you (God) has shown your people desperate times.” Another translation states, “God has made His people see hard times.”
But it is true that the Lord often uses hardships in our lives. Sometimes those hardships humble us (Deut. 8:2). Sometimes those difficulties test our spiritual resolve (Deut. 2:3). Other times, tough stuff helps us rearrange our priorities (Deut. 8:3).
Usually, we see hardships as a way for the Lord to get our attention or discipline us (Deut. 8:5). And He certainly does do that.
But, He also uses trials and tribulations as a way to prepare us for future blessings (Deut. 8:7).
A great illustration of that principle is the life of Job. His sorrow began in devasting grief. He lost his possessions, his servants and his ten children. And if that wasn’t enough pain, he had to endure a great deal of personal misery in the form of sores, difficulty breathing, foul breath, pain and anxiety.
Job reacts like you and I likely would. He complains to God. He has three specific gripes against the Lord. You don’t hear me (Job 13:3, 24); you are punishing me (Job 6:4) and you are allowing the wicked to prosper while I sit in misery (Job 21:7).
Job attempts to contend with the Almighty (Job 40:1). That discussion goes nowhere. In fact, the Lord verbally takes Job out to the wood shed for a spanking. And then Job “gets it.” He acknowledges that God is God and he (Job) is not!
“I am unworthy, how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth…” (Job 40:4)
Finally Job is ready to embrace the sovereign plan of God. The hardships, misery and pain that he has endured are seen through the lens of God’s love. He trusts His Lord. He trusts that God has been using all the hurts for a purpose, a purpose directed by God. Job finally agrees to wait on Him, “I know that you can do all things, no plan of yours can be thwarted.”
And chapter 42 confirms that “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first…”
So this week, if the hand of the Lord seems a bit heavy in your life, consider Job. And trust that all the hardships are being directed by the God who loves you. Sit back, and watch for His future blessings!