When my husband first became ill many years ago, we were determined to “put on a happy face.” (Maybe you remember that old Dick VanDyke song.) Little did we know that we were in the first stage of grief—denial. I’m sure our optimism was both perplexing to some people and admired by others. The truth is that we were simply ignorant of the devastating consequences of the disease. We were young and could conquer anything.
As the weeks and months passed and the prognosis became more negative, reality set in. Never would life be the same. Our well-defined roles vanished, and I was overwhelmed with the responsibilities of our “new normal.” Thinking that Job in the Old Testament had gone through loss and devastation like no one else on earth, I decided to study the book to discover the keys to overcoming heartache. (This may have been my bargaining stage of grief.)
Of course, Job’s faith-affirming words spoke to me and even strengthened my faith:
- “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him (God)” (Job 13:15).
- “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. Yet in my flesh I will see God: I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart years within me” (Job 19:25-27).
- “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
I had known these Scriptures, and they were meaningful to me, but I was looking for something new. After weeks of reading and finding nothing that “clicked” with me, I chalked up the time to a good Bible study.
It would be years before I understood the truths of Job, chapters 38-41—God’s words to Job. In those closing chapters, God was simply telling Job that his knowledge was finite and could not compared to the all-knowing God, Who was both Creator and Controller. Job’s responsibility was to trust God Who knows everything. I came to realize that God did not allow those terrible losses to destroy Job but to bring him to a realization of who God is. The same was true for me. God did not allow difficulties to destroy me, but to bring me closer to Him. In 42:5, Job says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job declared God’s sovereignty in all things. I’m rather sure that Job’s restoration, which is recounted in the last six verses of the book, covered many years.
In these last few weeks we have seen great devastation with hurricanes and flooding in Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina and fires in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Some people have lost everything and are in the throws of great grief. We grieve for and with them and are helping through those who are responding to the tragedies. But what is God saying?
Just as with Job, God wants us to know that these great challenges are not to destroy us as Americans. So God is calling us—all of us—to examine our lives in these difficult days. He wants us to acknowledge that in ourselves we have no power to make changes. He is waiting for us to call out for His help. It’s His desire to make something wonderful out of the every tragedy, disappointment, challenge, and problem in our lives.