Quite a few times in my life, I have been. Even the last couple of years have been quite a painful struggle to step forward in faith to God’s calling in my life. Sometimes I have brought my own suffering upon me. Other times it has been beyond my control. The latter have been my jOb moments. I can live life with my suffering more when I know I have caused it, but when someone or something else has caused harm to me…it can become unbearable.
“Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?” Job 4:6
We can get overly confident in our salvation at times and start to wear it as our badge of courage (or humilty, which in essence becomes pride), faltering towards being wise in our own eyes. At this time of year, I chose the theme of suffering because there are so many out in the world today that suffer. Especially during the Christmas season. And it was our Savior, Christ Jesus, who came for those who are needy and suffering (even those that don’t know how needy they are).
Don’t you think God suffered by limiting Himself to a human form? The beautiful babe in the manger is our God with us in all His glory, humbling Himself to endure human physical limitations, to come to a lost and hurting world of people to redeem mankind by suffering on a cross. He endured it’s scorn and shame for all of our sins, once and for all. And the beauty of it was, that He lifted Himself out of the depths of the earth to glorify Himself again (there you go, my Christmas sermon for you). In other words, God knows suffering more than any of us.
jOb suffers greatly as God allows Satan to approach him with tragedy after tragedy. So much so, jOb becomes extremely depressed and believes the only answer to his suffering and pain is death itself and he longs for it. In fact, jOb says he loathes his life because of his suffering. He questions God, “make me understand how I have gone astray”. jOb knows he has been righteous before God in following the laws and commands. He has been a man of integrity. He can’t figure out why God will allow this.
In the same way, we can question, “God, why did you allow this to happen to me? What did I do wrong that made me deserve this?” We can’t seem to find the answers for why. In fact, jOb even thinks he must have sinned in order to deserve such calamity to the point of feeling sorry for himself and having his own pity party. I have heard people say this about others who have suffered, but they couldn’t be any further from the truth. It’s wrong thinking to believe that bad things happen to godly people because they have sinned. Nope. God is sovereign. He causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
In trying to understand why God would do this, jOb makes a decision to complain from the bitterness in his soul. He even goes so far as to try to liken God as a “joy killer” that any man would bring upon another man. And he begs God to leave him alone, so that he could find some happiness somewhere in the days that he has left.
“because God has loosed my cord and humbled me.” Job 30:11
No matter how humble or righteous through Christ we think we are…we can still be brought lower by a Sovereign God. Let pride bring us low every time. jOb was righteous in his own eyes, even though by our standards he would have seemed like a devout and humble believer of our day. When I find that I accept God as Sovereign in my life, it frees me up to stop worrying about things that seem so unfair to me and it silences my argument before God. I am quieted by His righteousness…and His love.
Maybe your lyre needs to be turned to mourning and your pipe to those who weep?
“But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty that makes him understand.” Job 32:8
“God is mighty in strength of understanding.” Job 36:5b
Is there something we can learn by being in a jOb kind of way?
If you have been hanging in there with me by reading this long blog, let me get to why I was inspired to write it. There is a new CD out by Rick Elias that I just have to share with you. It’s called jOb. I love it. I love it even more so, as a mental health counselor, because hurting people need real music that can speak to their soul and human condition. It is raw in it’s musical talent and lyrics as it depicts the story of jOb. You can’t help but ache with jOb as you listen. It strikes a chord in my own heart for the times that it has ached and still aches. It is real music. Real pain. Real suffering. And I feel like I am crying out with jOb (or possibly even Rick), “Help Thou my unbelief, lest I fall away”. I, too, am in awe how He still loved me anyway. God “undoes” us, so that He can finish His work in us. “Father you know me, the seed of your creation, made in your image with little indication of my poverty.” (Rick Elias, Help Thou My Unbelief). The moment we realize our depravity…is this not the way God shows us humility?
“Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable. For he draws up the drops of water; they distill his mist in rain, which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly.” Job 37:26-28
When It All Came Down has to be my most favorite song of the album (you’ll have to listen to it to see why) and I confess, I cried when I heard A Kind Of Brilliance. I think Rick had a kind of brilliance when he wrote it. It reminds me of myself and the woman at the well. Searching for water in broken cisterns. I need the water that is overflowing and full of life that will never leave me thirsty again. Quite frankly, I love all the songs on this CD and I want more of it. (Sidenote: you can purchase jOb at Rick’s website).
I like how God is spot on to ask jOb to step up to the plate as he questions jOb…be a man, and I will show you who is in charge! “Where were you, Job, when I laid the foundations of the earth?”, “When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”…kind of wakes you up to reality.
I think God must love jOb’s honesty and boldness to tell him to even approach, even in his arrogance. It reminds me of Jacob wrestling with God and then God putting his hip out of alignment so that Jacob never forgets who is in control. Likewise, I think God asks us to step up to the plate and be bold enough to speak our minds so He can show us who He is and then we find out (we really have no argument at all).
To be sure, God, cares for the broken-hearted. He just has interesting ways of showing His compassion that is so unconventional to a worldly understanding.
“He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity.” Job 36:15
I am listening, God…
About Rick’s CD, jOb:
I think it’s important to have good music that speaks to the soul when it aches. “Mourn with those who mourn”. Romans 12:15b If you have been in a jOb kind of way, Rick’s new CD jOb, will be a true comfort and balm for you. You are not alone. There truly are no strangers at the table of suffering: loss of a job, a home, loved ones, a marriage or significant relationship, searching to end the pain with whatever one can find…you can truly relate to jOb in this album and ache alongside him. This CD reminds me, I too, am not alone and it lifts me in a way that reminds me that the One who made me, knows me so well and knows how to reach me. Traveling with a person in their journey of suffering can help to bring them back to truth.
In evaluating the musical aspects of the album, I hear sounds of the Beach Boys, Joe Walsh, Billy Joel, and other classic rock from the 70’s and 80’s that I am wracking my brain over and can’t think of just off-hand. I guess you could say it is eclectic, which creates it’s own appeal to me. There is also some great acoustic guitar and really cool electric guitar distortions. I love Rick’s honest vocals and melodies; he is true to himself as a writer and musician. I believe this album goes back to Rick’s time with Rich Mullins and it will make you miss Rich (well, it made me miss him). Such great Ragamuffins! Nothing like REAL music. I highly recommend this album and you have to get it! 😉 Thank you for your gift, Rick!
*Read another great comprehensive blog and review of Rick’s new CD here from Craig Daliessio: http://shinnyandshavings.blogspot.com/2013/11/rick-elias-job-re-posting-my-review.html
It was the reason why I bought the album!
May the Year 2014 reveal to you God’s Sovereign Grace!