For the past ten years or so, Job has become my BFF. I think I’ve now met ALL his friends and his nasty wife, too. Sorry, but it’s true. In a land of such non belief it is not uncommon for people to tell you, “just curse God and die. All your problems stem from your faith.” Then those people will go on to win the lottery right in front of you. Seriously, that happened a few years ago and had me cackling hysterically with lots of gallows humor. Really God? You’re going to bless those who curse you and curse those who bless you?
Really. Sometimes that is exactly what happens and it is tough to lean into Him rather than our own understanding.
I’ve always loved the book of Job, the poetry to be found there, the stories within a story, the way God comes out of the whirlwind. “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?”
How incredible it is to me that those verses have come to me when I have needed them most and they have had a very practical application. All in good humor here, but that is a miracle indeed, because my brain is a bit like hard drive that needs a good defrag. The fact that God could pull up a verse I read once some 20 years ago, and pull it up with such clarity, such uncharacteristic sharp memory, is quite miraculous to me.
In times of great stress and affliction, I can walk into the kitchen, have no idea why I even went in there, and yet there is God speaking to me, handing me exactly what I need in that very moment. This is why we read scripture and why we write those words on the tablet of our hearts. God can retrieve those files at any moment and use them to speak to us, even when our own brains fail us.
There’s a shift in mindset I’ve really had to cultivate in the past decade or so, in the face of trial after trial after trial, a mindset that hangs onto the idea that affliction is not rejection. Bad things do not happen to us or to those we love, because God hates us. God is good always. Like Job, sometimes bad things happen because we have the Lord’s favor, because there is none so righteous as Job. Because we are highly favored.
James says, “Dear brothers and sisters when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”
It’s a tough, tough mindset to embrace, one that sometimes has you croaking half heartedly, “Hallelejah Lord, thank you for the opportunity to use every skill you’ve taught me, the chance to reflect and display everything I have learned, faith pulled up from places deep down, right to my very toenails. For your honor and glory, of course.” It’s a great privilege you know, to be given these chances, these opportunities. Not affliction as rejection, but affliction as being highly favored.
There’s a real miracle hidden in there too, a keen awareness of having been made for such a time as this. How extraordinary that the past twenty years prepared me spiritually for what was to come. That didn’t have to happen, bad things can hit whether we are emotionally and spiritually prepared or not, but I can see clearly how I was trained, molded, shaped, my “endurance given a chance to grow.” What an amazing thing that is.
And because I am never content with two or three evident and obvious miracles, with all the evidence I need that God is real and God loves me dearly, I’m left grieving for those who just walk around muttering, “God hates me.” I’m done protesting and arguing about it. God loves me dearly and I am highly favored. If He hates you, perhaps you should turn to Him and ask Him why.