I know a guy. In a tragic set of circumstances, his children were killed. His business is ruined. He has inflamed ulcerated sores all over his body. He is depressed. He has difficulty breathing. He has a loss of appetite and weight. And he is in excruciating, continual pain. At the very least, he is struggling through very TOUGH STUFF.
Before I tell you anything else about this guy, let’s think about you and the folks you know. Anybody lost a job? Has the doctor started a conversation with you that began, “Medicine has come a long way in treating this kind of tumor”? Is there stress in your marriage? Do you struggle with pain? Is it hard to see yourself working at the same job five years from now? Is a teenager breaking your heart?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you too are struggling with TOUGH STUFF, just like Job did in the Old Testament. All those things in the first paragraph happened to him. All those things in the second paragraph happen to you and me.
Aren’t you glad that God was gracious and slipped the ancient story of Job into our Bible so we would have a reference book for such TOUGH TIMES? If all that happened to Job and he could still find perspective, (see Job 1:21, “…the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord”) so can you and me.
Perhaps the place to start is with a reminder that God doesn’t make mistakes. Our Bible assures us over and over that He is both in charge and in touch. He knows and He cares. Things do not happen accidentally in a Christian’s life. God is actively and strategically using EVERY circumstance for our ultimate good (Rom. 8:28).
In the book of Job, God outlines at least five ways that He plans on using suffering in our lives. In chapter two, it is clear that sometimes God uses suffering to test our resolve and our commitment to Him (see 2:3 and Deut. 8:2). In chapter five, God demonstrates that occasionally, suffering is a kind of discipline for God’s kids (see 5:17 and Deut. 8:5). He also uses suffering as a way to humble us (see 22:29). And once we are humbled, sometimes the Lord uses suffering to help rearrange our priorities (see 42:5-6).
But an often over looked result of suffering in the life of the believer is found in Job 42:10, “And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” Truth is, sometimes suffering happens to prepare us for future blessings.
You may not exactly know why you are experiencing TOUGH STUFF right now but you chose to hum along with Beth and Matt Redman and their great song, “Blessed Be Your Name.” When the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say…Blessed be your name!