A long time ago there was this guy named Job…

He was a good guy, a real stand-up sort of guy.  He did things the right way and people liked him and admired him.  And he was a man of God.  Then, for some reason, the wheels came off.

We’ve all come to the end of our rope at one time or another and Job is at that point.  To be fair to Job, I can’t blame him.  In one day his ten children die; his servants are killed and his livestock perishes due to marauders or natural disasters.  Job mourns but still blesses God.  Then Satan causes him to be covered with horrible skin sores.  Job is in agony.

His wife encourages him to curse God and give up and die but he refuses while struggling to accept his circumstances.  Even his trusted friends are no help.  It’s their theory somehow all the awful things that have befallen Job were the result of something he or the other people did.  The bad things were punishment from God.  Job rejects this idea, offending his friends, but even Job in all his faith cannot deny his humanity.

When we’re down and out and things seem their darkest, we can’t help ourselves.  We complain.  Job, who had been through more than most of us can imagine, is there.  He’s tormented in his waking hours and in his sleep.  He’s ready to just be done with life.  You can read how he cries out to God here.  And can you blame him?

Our “first world problems” culture gets in a tizzy if we are delayed at the drive thru or someone cuts us off in traffic.  We think dropping our phone in the pool is a catastrophe.  While I doubt that we deny or curse God at these times (although maybe we do) we certainly wonder as Job did, ‘Why me?’  We wonder what we may have done to deserve all the bad luck we can seemingly identify in our lives.  When things go really wrong we try to explain it all through cause and effect like Job’s friends.  My guess is that our waterlogged phones and our 30 second delay in traffic aren’t a result of God allowing Satan to test us.

Putting the comparison aside between our difficulties and Job’s the lesson of Job’s story is that God is ever present.  The world, our world, isn’t a result of what we’ve done.  If you read further on in Job you’ll find that God eventually speaks to Job and makes His point.  God’s power and divine justice are beyond our comprehension.  We cannot justify his ways.  God’s plan for our lives may at times include hardship but just as iron sharpens iron and gold is purified by fire we are formed and cleansed by our difficulties.  God does not forsake us in our times of trouble.  He is there with us to get us through them.  Especially when we are at the end of our rope.

When have you been at your end?  How did the experience change and shape you?  Is there a way you could use this difficulty to help others?

Every week I write a bit about religiousy stuff I think applies to our lives and maybe we can learn something from.  It’s in the part of my blog called The Everyday Bible.  Click here if you would like to read more of that or other things I’ve written.

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