Counted Worthy

I have been thinking a lot about the story of Job.

The story of Job is right in the middle of the Bible. It’s one of the most interesting stories in the Bible because in it we get to see behind the scenes where Satan is talking to God and this helps us understand why we go through trials. If you haven’t read the story of Job, I recommend reading it, just for curiosity sake. It’ll intrigue you.

The book of Job begins with telling us all about Job and how he was blessed beyond imagination. And he also was a man who loved and obeyed God. But then the story gets interesting as we get to see how Satan comes to God and has a request to make about Job;

One day the angels[a] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan[b] also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
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.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “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. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (Job 1:6-12)

Wow, Satan has noticed Jobs faith and obedience to God and Satan is so bold to say that Job only worships God so devotedly because of all the ways God has blessed him. It is a honest assumption. I could look at Jobs life and make a similar conclusion. What’s amazing is that God actually lets Satan take everything away from Job. If you keep reading you will see how one by one, Job loses everything. All his possessions and all his children, gone. And then we get to see Jobs amazing and humble response. His response to all of these hardships is;

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:20-22)

To lose everything and still be praising God, now that is a faith to aspire too. It didn’t make Satan happy. Satan went right back to God with another request. This time he asked to take away Job’s health and inflict him with diseases. And God allowed it again! Job lost his health and he became very sick with sores and boils all over his skin. Job’s own wife and his friends were even telling him to curse God. But this was his response;

His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[b] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. (Job 2:9-10)

Again, I am just overwhelmed at how Job is able to still praise God and glorify God when he lost everything. Job was a righteous man. He didn’t sin or do anything that caused him to lose all these things. He wasn’t suffering because of the consequences of sin or his choices. Job was never told the reason why God allowed him to be afflicted with so much suffering. I can’t imagine what thoughts and feelings must have been going through Jobs head. He trusted and followed God all his life and this is what God dealt him. This must have been very discouraging. Yet Job didn’t complain, he still praised God and refused to despair at his unfortunate circumstances.

What is my sufferings compared to the suffering of Job. My heartache is small and insignificant to losing everything. Yet I can’t say that my natural response has been to praise God. Like Job, I feel as if I have done all that I could to follow God and obey God. It’s always been my hearts desire to please God. I didn’t sin or do anything to deserve the pain in my life right now. I have cried out to God and asked him why. Why did he do this to me when I all I wanted to do was follow him? The biggest question that has been on my mind with my life right now is why God would let me get so close to my hearts desire and give me all these good things, like a new family whom I love dearly and a new home that I was beginning to make my own, just to take them all away. I don’t know the answer.

But like Job, I know that God truly is the one who gives and takes away. God is the one calling all the shots and He doesn’t always tell us why he does things or allows us to walk through the fire. And like Job’s story, suffering and pain is not always a result of us sinning, it happens to the most blameless of people. I think that suffering often happens to those whose faith in God is great because God wants to test their faith and show to the world how great their love and devotion is. This is what he did with Job. God knew Job was strong enough to lose everything and still praise Him. God knew that Job would be faithful to him even when his friends urged him to curse God and die. God wanted to make a spectacle of Jobs great faith for everyone to see and also to kick Satan in the back. God looked down and he counted Job worthy enough to walk through the fire. Worthy enough to suffer for the cause of God’s plan.

I can’t help but wonder, is this what God is doing with my life? When I suffer things and lose things simply because I am choosing to follow God, is it because God is counting me worthy? Have I been counted worthy enough by God to walk through the all trials he has put before me? Maybe God has given me greater pain and heartache because he knows I can take it and I can still praise him through it, like Job did. Is there a similar scene going on in heaven, with Satan and God when it comes to my life? I can’t help but get this feeling like God is using this in my life to be a spectacle to those around me, to those watching. As I walk through the fire, God is my strength, and as others are watching they will see my faith. Oh what an amazing perspective this is to have! I suffer because God has counted me worthy! I can lift up praises to my God even though my heart aches because oh what joy it gives my heart to know that God looked down and saw that I was worthy enough to walk through this hard season of waiting. This is the reason why I can praise my God during this confusing and painful time in my life!

But there also one more aspect to Jobs story that should be added before I finish. If you jump to the end of the book of Job you will get to see how God restores all of the things Job lost, and God restored it back twice as before;

the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver a and a gold ring.
12The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.  (Job 42:10-12)

God never does tell Job why he went through all those trials. But after Job remained faithful to God during the hard times, God gave everything back. Just like with Job, God doesn’t tell us the why behind every trial we go through. But God promises to be with us and promises to never take us through something we can’t bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). And I also believe that just like Job, when we are faithful to God during these hard times, God will bless us beyond our imagination at the end. Even if those blessings don’t come until we are in heaven one day, it’ll be worth it. Because to be counted worthy to endure suffering and pain for following God is a reward enough in itself.

If you are enduring any form of suffering or trial, I pray that this story in the Bible can encourage your heart as much as it does mine. It is a reminder to keep on praising God, to keep on choosing God, because God is using this pain in your life for his own purposes. Even if God never tells us ‘the why’ behind the things that take place in our life, we can trust that His ways are always best. Keep on following and walking with God through your hard seasons and know that you will be blessed beyond imagining when you get to the end. Rejoice that God has counted you worthy to walk through the fire and suffer so that He might be glorified through your example.

Lastly, I again want encourage you to read the story of Job and let the story of Job’s faith encourage you. And I wanted to share my favorite verse from Job. This verse is such an encouragement to my heart that God’s ways are always best and we can trust God even when we don’t understand what He’s doing.

I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Job 42:2

One Day at a Time

What do you do when you don’t want to do anything?

When getting out of bed is hard. When the days are so long and all you want to do is forget. Forget about all the memories that just remind you of everything you don’t have anymore. When the thoughts of how to move on are so strong that you feel crushed and unable to move.

I’m sure you know pain. Maybe not the same pain I’m experiencing, but it’s some sort of pain. Maybe your pain is harder. Who am I to complain about my broken heart when I think of what you might be going through. Maybe you’ve lost someone you love and they are never coming back. Maybe you are faced with a life-threatening illness with only days to live. Maybe, like me, you have a broken heart and nothing seems to make sense anymore. I realize that I have so much to be thankful for, but right now, I just want to do nothing and sometimes I just want to cry. Whatever it is that you are going through, if you feel that way, that’s okay. It’s okay to have these days. But here’s a little something that has helped me to get through each day.

Learn to take it one day at a time.

I find that I get the most overwhelmed and scared when I let my mind think too far into the future. I think about all the ways my life is changed and how it’s no longer going where I had wanted it to go. And then if I look to the past I find regret, shame, and sadness and those feelings don’t help much either. But when I look to God and focus on just the day ahead of me I find that I am able to make it. I am still scared of the unknown road ahead of me, but I can commit to making it through one day.

And that one day will turn into two days, then three days, then four… before you know it you will be feeling less of the hurt. New doors will open and new opportunities will come. God will reveal his plan for you and fill you with his joy while you keep on following Him. And it began with you simply taking it just one day at a time. So whatever you’re facing, can you commit to just taking it one day at a time? Commit to following your sweet Saviour today, and don’t worry about tomorrow. You can worry about tomorrow when it comes.

This is what I’m going to do. Take it one day at a time.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

Surrender

What does true surrender look like?

It looks like tears falling down your face. It looks like standing at a crossroads, knowing only one way is the right path to take. It looks like defeat. But it is not defeat. It is something beautiful. It is letting go of the things we hold onto so tightly and giving them to God. It is saying that what we want is not as important as what God has for us. It’s opening up the door for God to lead us to what’s next.

I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever be done learning my lesson of surrender. I’ve always partially surrendered things to God. I’ve said that I love God more but I only would walk away if I had too. I see now that it never really was surrender because I was still holding tightly onto what I wanted. I was saying I was surrendering while being ready to jump back as soon as God gave me the slightest sign.

But today I found myself at a crossroads. I had a choice to make. Two obvious choices were before me. Never in my life have I felt so torn between such a choice. One choice would keep me closer to the thing my heart desired most, holding onto my relationship. The other choice felt like a leap of faith because it took me away from that hope. Today an opportunity to stay do what I wanted most was placed right in my lap. All I had to do was say yes and I could keep holding on tightly to the thing I wanted most. But when I checked my heart something wasn’t right.

I have never before felt such strong resistance between making a decision then I felt today. I have been fighting to have my way but deep down I had this gut feeling about what was right. After much distress in my soul and prodding question from a dear friend I went on a walk to clear my head. I cried most of the way. I had a “hard” conversation with God. I begged him to speak to me and show me what to do. I even sat down and waited, hoping to hear a physical voice speak to me and tell me what to do. I didn’t hear anything. Probably because I already knew what God was asking me to do. The rebellious spirit in me just wouldn’t stop fighting.

I know that today was a defining moment in my life. I came back from that walk with a heart that was decided on what to do. I made a choice. I chose to choose the path of faith. The path of surrender. I gave the outcome of this relationship to God and I will leave it in his hands. Then I cried in my closet.

I wish I could tell you that once you surrender to God, the pain will all finally go away. I’m sorry, but it won’t. I’m still hurting immensely. I am choosing the path that is hard and everything that is within in me is screaming to go the other way. But I can tell you that surrender does bring peace. I know that if I chose the other way, I would never have peace. I would not be truly trusting God to work in this area of my life. There is much pain in my heart still, but it’s okay. It’s alright because I know God is with me.

I’m overwhelmed when I think about the possibilities that this choice may lead to and the hard days to come. But today I made the choice to surrender and that’s where I’ll start. I’ll take it one day at a time and follow God in this life because I know that in life that is what matters most. Living a life completely surrendered to God is what I am called to do.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

Disappointment

Oh the amazing amount of feelings that you can experience simply by one thing being changed.

When we have our hopes set on something we really want it is crushing to the soul when we don’t get it. Disappointment leads to hurt, sadness, and I’m learning it can even lead to anger.

I don’t like disappointment but I sadly have no control over the things that happen. I wish I could close my eyes and make all the feelings go away. And sometimes I wish I could go back in time and change things. I wish I saw the signs and got help sooner instead of letting things fall apart in such a messy way. I wish with all my heart I could still have my plans come true and just forget about the disappointments.

To be honest though, the truth is I like soaking into the feelings of hurt and pain. Feeling pity for myself feels oddly good. But in the end I just need to get up and keep going. Keep hoping, keep praying, keep moving, because I know God is working.

I think disappointment likes to tell us that we made a mistake, we failed in some way, so we don’t get what we want. It tells us that we must now wait longer to get what we want. The bottom line is disappointment is an unwanted request from God to wait. Waiting is the last thing we want to do, right? We want what we want when we want it. But without disappointments in life I don’t think we’d be able to learn about how beautiful the virtue of patience is or how sweet the act of surrendering can be.

I may be preaching to myself mostly here. I need to not be discouraged about the huge disappointment life has thrown me so writing about this has helped. But whatever disappointment your facing in you life, I’ll be the first to join you and say disappointment sucks and waiting is no fun. But I also will say that it has a reason. Even though we may not see it, there’s a reason from God for every disappointment, unmet desire, or canceled plan. We just have to keep moving on and keep trusting God.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11