The answer lies in the book of Job. Job…the one to whom we dare compare ourselves, secretly, way down deep in our hearts. Job…the one for whom we cheer, condemn, and eventually imitate. Job…the one who beautifully accepted tragedies few of us will ever endure; and then massively wiped out when further tested.
I live the Job cycle, going from "The Lord gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord forever," to long chapters (in the book and in my life) of contemplation. These are the times I would never verbalize but constantly try to understand –“Why, God?” Much of our walk is tied up too frequently in trying to understand the ways of The One whose ways are higher than ours (Isa. 55:9). We are not alone in this. Besides Job being mainly about this quest, we see this in many of the saints of old. Was that not the question of: Mary & Martha regarding Lazarus, Paul regarding the thorn in his flesh, Jacob regarding life, Jonah regarding God's heart, Elijah regarding his expected outcome of his ministry efforts, etc.? We could go on and on. Eventually, we will all be stumped by God’s dealings with us.
So, how did Job deal with this? He lamented his confusion about the ways of God. Many of us get stuck there. We carry on with an outward show of faith, but inside we are not in agreement with God- the question of “Why?” is ever present between us and our Maker. This results in "self-efforts" regarding our trials; we pray less and work more. We look for different ways out of our mess- sometimes so utterly disillusioned with God that we are unable to take our burden to Him anymore. In Abram’s life this resulted in Ishmael. In ours, it results in a pseudo walk with God- we are not in step with God unless we are depending on Him for everything.
So, we have the problem: the why question. We have the result: self- effort and distance in our walk. So where is the triumphant end?
THE END to the trial is not the FIX of the TRIAL, or the ANSWER to why the trials in the first place. THE END to the trial is surrender to the truth that we will not understand God, and frankly that is not our calling in the first place. The END is the END of the question... Job’s "answer" from God was not an answer at all. It was a proclamation of God's vast greatness. The message being: God is so infinitely awesome, mighty, and omniscient that we, as mere mortals, could never comprehend the reasons behind His works. In essence, God said to Job, "Son, you can't "get" me, and it is the height of arrogance that you would try." The tone of reprimand is clearly evident throughout God's response. Who are we to question God? If He takes all we have in this life, is He not still worthy of our praise? God is God and we are not. We must be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10).
We can surrender to God by accepting He is good no matter what our life looks like, that He may or may not change our circumstances, and that that is irrelevant. We must humble our hearts, and give up our pursuit and perceived right to understanding in exchange for trust. Trust in a God who is love and who can ultimately only do what is the best for us because of His very nature.
This is the heart we need to have, which then leads to the next result. Because, Job had humbled his heart, his faith took on a deeper dimension evidenced by: "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; (Job. 42:5).” Deeper faith is never about understanding God, but about understanding that He is too great to understand. This "maturing" in Job’s faith immediately brings about an outward work. He then prays for his friends. Notice his focus has completely left his trial and has changed to his being used of God for others.
This message has been put on my heart repeatedly by God throughout the last couple of years; however, the culmination to the message came to me Sunday when Pastor Winget brought to us nearly the same truth. God spoke to my heart this way:
Sarah, will you give up your desire for security in exchange for trust, and will you give up your complaining in exchange for thankfulness?This is what I want for 2015...
“But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.”