Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Recently I have been studying the story of Job. Anyone who knows his journey in the Old Testament knows that he was one of the most faithful of all biblical figures in that time period and his story is marked as one of the oldest books in the Bible. For those who don’t know the story I am going to briefly summarize a portion of it for you now.
Job had a very good life. In thinking about LIFE leaderships 8 F’s I would say Job ‘had it going on’ in all eight categories. He was strong in his faith – he worshiped God in everything he did; and all other categories were exceedingly abundant. “He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.” Job 1:2-3
While Job was not perfect (but he was darn close) Job knew that he was a fallen man and was very humble despite of all his blessings. He always knew Who to give the credit to. “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8
God loved to brag on Job because he was the model man for all of God’s people. Satan didn’t like that and was sure that Job was only faithful because he had been blessed abundantly. “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” Job 1:9-11
God sets out to prove to Satan that Job is not righteous just because he is being blessed. God challenges Satan telling him, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger” Job 1:12. Job lost just about everything; his sheep, his oxen, his camels, his servants, and all of his sons and daughters, but remarkably he did not lose his faith in God. What was Job’s response? “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” Job 1:20-22.
Job’s reaction during such a trial is so encouraging. He never lost faith. He worshiped God, he said that he came into this world with nothing and will return with nothing, the Lord has taken away all he had except his wife and even his wife told him to “curse God and die” and Job continued to bless the name of the Lord (Job 2:9). In all of this, “Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong!” Job 1:22. Satan must have been angry at Job’s response. Job suffered unjustly and yet he did not blame God.
There is a lot more to this story. I encourage you, if you have not read it, to learn the intricate details of Job’s faith despite all of his challenges and even more, learn the ending. This is a very basic summary describing Job’s faith but I share it with you today because it is quickly becoming one of my favorite books of the Bible; and here is why.
I am reminded that even though the story of Job is so old, it is very much applicable and comparable to most people’s lives today. Let me be very clear that I am not saying people’s lives today can even compare to the sufferings of Job, but his story is a measure of struggle in our lives and allows us to examine our own faith. For example, when everything falls apart (whatever that may be for each person) does one curse God and blame God for their suffering or worship Him and draw closer to Him in faith? Those are the questions I continue to ask myself as I examine my own circumstances.
For those of you who have followed the journey regarding my brain tumor last year, you already know that by God’s grace and love and the support of amazing people in my life, I was healed last August. At the time I closed the book on that story and attempted to put the pieces of my life back together when everything fell apart. I just knew God was faithful. I knew He had a plan. And to my amazement His plan was carried out in one of the most miraculous ways possible. Looking back on all the intricate details of that journey and how each decision was carried out and examining God’s mighty hand throughout all of it, I am humbled that He gave that story to me. But, while I thought that story was over, God must have known it was just the beginning. Just another reminder that we can never predict God’s plan.
In a follow up MRI in late January I was told that there is another tumor – different diagnosis from the first but similar location, but it is benign. I didn’t quite react as foolishly and fearfully as I did the first time knowing that my options were completely different than the first time around. In knowing this diagnosis and realizing that God led me to homeopathy last year through amazing friends in LIFE leadership, I have decided to choose the homeopathic route again, completely trusting in Jenn and knowing that God is in control of this outcome as well.
However, in addition to the most recent diagnosis in January, just this past week at a recent appointment I was told that another tumor has been spotted near the back of the brain, attached to a nerve. This one is described as malignant. Yes…cancer. So now there are two. This recent news has forced me to think about my entire journey so far and in doing so it has also allowed me to re-examine my faith; hence why I started this post with the story of Job.
The very essence of this has certainly caused me to think deeper about life but beyond that, it has forced me to draw closer to God in searching for answers and accepting the reality that this is serious… but not fatal. Why? Because I have one of the wisest homeopathic specialists in the country working with me and I have a very powerful and mighty God. I know with certainty that God did not cause this to happen. This is not God’s fault (so non-believers get that out of your head), how could I possibly get mad at him? The reason things like this happen isn’t because of God, it’s because of sin. God didn’t create sin and He didn’t create evil. We (humans) did – way back in Genesis. God only provided a Savior (when He knew we would be faced with injustice and suffering) in His son Jesus Christ to overcome all the sin and evil of the world – even brain tumors..yes Jesus died for me so that someday I could live eternally with him, tumor free! Even if not in this life, I have hope that this plague isn’t forever… all because of Jesus. And for that I will always thank Him and draw closer to Him.
God is the hero, not the villain. In fact, it’s an even stronger reason why our relationship with Him is most important – especially during challenges. One day those challenges will cease to exist. One day we will know why bad things happen. But until then all we can do is what we know God has given us the power to do – trust in Him, pray, love Him, live for Him and draw closer to Him. Because in the end, our relationship with Him is what will really matter.
So with this recent news I thought it would be fair to ask this question:
Has an obstacle challenged your faith?
Has a terrible loss of a loved one burdened you to the point of giving up? … If so, draw closer to God.
Has a difficult relationship with someone in your life torn you to pieces? … If so, draw closer to God.
Is your health on shaky ground? … If so, draw closer to God.
Are you faced with a financial challenge that you can’t seem to overcome? … If so, draw closer to God.
Are you questioning your purpose? … If so, draw closer to God.
Are you lonely? … If so, draw closer to God.
Are you afraid? … If so, draw closer to God.
“For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
(Sequel to Part 4: God’s Plan is Always Perfect)