“Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” – James 5:11
Last year, at this time, as Christmas music played in my apartment and I decorated as much as I could (and rearranged my furniture, with my sister’s help, because I was going stir-crazy!), I was still in a state of shock and trying to comprehend my “new normal”. I was still doing speech therapy, still healing from the surgery, just beginning to eat solid foods and had graduated to gentle chewing, physical therapy, and so much rest.
The future seemed blank. I had no idea how the next year would unfold. There were so many beautiful things still to come…but at that moment, as we pushed my couch to the opposite wall and hung the lights on the tree, I was completely in the dark.
I’m what you might call an “avid journaler”. I figure life out on paper; writing my jumbled thoughts into cohesive sentences, copying down favorite quotes or Bible verses, immortalizing moments in time with ink. It’s a pastime and a habit that I refuse to quit. Being able to look back on situations or circumstances to see how God worked…to realize the truth hidden within the moments…to understand, as best I can, grace and mercy and sovereignty.
Wonder if Job felt the same way?
Job had a life worth being envious of. He was rich, blessed, and famous. He was THE man everyone wished they could be. But on top of that, he was wholly devoted to God. He even secured a whole book in the Bible named after him!
But his life wasn’t without hardship.
When Satan decided to test the waters of Job’s loyalty to the Lord, Job experienced huge losses: his children were killed in a freak storm and his land was completely devastated. But he still remained faithful. So the Enemy attacked him physically, causing chronic pain and illness that drove him to his knees, crying out for answers. As Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries) puts it so well, “Satan wants us to believe the lie that if our circumstances fall apart, then so will we.”
But he never once turned away from God, even when he was laying in the dust, skin covered in boils, and considered cursed by all who knew him.
In the end, Job received the compassion and mercy that James mentions later on in the New Testament. Job’s life was restored, and all that the Enemy had taken was returned to him- at an even greater capacity and blessing than he had before. God had a purpose in the pain, and Job’s suffering was redeemed.
But in the midst of the struggle, although we can read ahead and see how God worked it all out, Job couldn’t see the ending of the story. All he knew was the reality of the moment, and how bleak it all seemed to be.
I’ve been there.
When the reality of the moment seems like gigantic weight that we simply can’t bear much longer, when our bodies betray us with illness or disease, when our finances are making our stomach twist and keeping us awake at night, when the vision or dream has died, when our relationships fail, when we lose the ones we love…there are days we don’t have the strength to keep our head up.
But if our hope is in Christ alone, if we are children of God, if we believe that we have a glorious inheritance waiting for us and the best is yet to come…then we can trust that just as God worked out the future for Job, Esther, Ruth, the children of Israel, Mary (the mother of Jesus), Paul and the early church and countless other stories of His compassion, mercy, and faithfulness…
He’s going to pull through for you too.
It might seem impossible right now, and you might not have a clue about how He’s going to work it all out. But take heart. Stand firm. I know from personal experience, from reading chapters of my own testimony, from studying His Word, that He is just as true to His promises today as He was for those who put their hope in Him thousands of years ago. Our God never changes, never wavers, never fails us.
So this Christmas, as I celebrate in a new home, fully healed, in a completely different place than I was last year, I’m more than confident that the baby in the manger who we sing about (and many times gloss over in the hustle and bustle of the season) is the same Savior and Lord that I serve today. And I know that I can trust His plan and purpose for everything in this life- even when I don’t understand.
I can’t skip ahead to read the end of my story, but I know the One who is writing it. And that His glory is revealed every step of the way.