We have all been through rough stages in life. Times of trial that are really hard to deal with. And try as we might we just can't seem to find the purpose behind it.
We know our trials are from God and we know why He does it. He puts us through these fires to develop our characters so we may come out from it stronger and more precious to Him.
Job 23:10 says “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”
Isn't that a really lovely idea? To be made like gold for God.
As lovely as it may sound, it's not so lovely while you are in the thick of it. In the heat of the fire it can be pretty overwhelming and often you can't see what on earth God is trying to teach you.
So how do we react to God when we are going through these tough times? Do we crumble under the pressure immediately? Do we start out strong but over time get worn down by the battle? Or can we stand there, faithful to our God even if that trial may last the rest of our life?
Well I reacted like Job’s wife.
Job's wife is never painted in a good light. It's fair enough I suppose because the only recorded mention of her in scripture does not show her at her best. Honestly though, if you were in her situation how much better would you be?
All her children died. She’d gone through all the excitement and pain of pregnancy and childbirth. She had raised, nurtured and loved her 10 children just to have them all die at once in a really out of the blue, and hugely tragic wind storm.
Not only did that happen, but also all of their families livestock and servants were killed or stolen. So all their income was gone as well.
This was all followed by Job being struck down with a hideous disease all over his skin from head to toe. She would then have to have become his nurse and caregiver in his affliction.
They had nothing left. All she could do was watch her husband just sitting there in the ashes and soot scratching himself with a piece of pottery.
Just imagine it! It's a depressing thought! If you have been through all they went through without doubting God once, I applaud you.
When we read the book of Job the lead character we read about is of course Job himself. We see the story from his perspective and see what HE went through. But what we don’t always think about is that it was equally as hard on his wife. She suffered through all of that too.
In Job 2:9 we see the only recorded words of Job’s wife.
She says “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
She was done. She was finished with these trials. She wanted them over by any means necessary, even death. In that moment it just wasn’t worth it for her anymore.
I’ve got to say, I get it. I get where she was coming from.
She's not the only woman in Scripture who when tried let her emotions take over and become overwhelmed.
I also reacted like Naomi.
In Ruth 1:20-21 Naomi says “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.
I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
The word Mara here means bitterness. Naomi had become a bitter woman and that was obvious in her words. She could only see the bad things that God had done to her.
Again, I totally get it. If I lost both of my son's and my husband I imagine I could get pretty bitter and upset too.
I'm Just The Same
Recently I've been going through a rough patch too. Boy oh boy, it’s been tough.
I'd love to tell you I've been an exemplary woman of God and remained faithful to Him throughout my trials but that would be a flat out lie.
Ladies, I have really failed. I've let myself get really angry at God. In my rage I have shunned Him. I have yelled at Him. I have hated Him. I have let my despair and anger get the better of me just as Job’s wife did. I have become bitter and self focused just as Naomi did.
But that's not the end of their stories and it doesn't have to be the end of mine.
When Job's wife speaks to him, Job responds by saying that it sounds like a foolish woman is speaking. This wasn't like his wife. In her grief she said a foolish thing. Job explains to her that they can't expect to have perfect lives. God gives and God takes away. Everyone has to go through trials.
At the end of the book of Job, his friends who have been giving him very bad advice are rebuked by God for the things they have said. In the record there is no mention of Job's wife being rebuked for her words. God knows we are weak sinners and at times we will slip up and say things we shouldn't. We are so easily taken over by the cares of the world and consumed by them.
God blesses both Job and his wife with 10 more children and restores their animals and wealth.
Naomi may have been bitter and sad for a while about losing her husband and children but over time she remembered God's faithfulness. She knew God would provide Ruth with a redeemer.
God blessed her by giving her a grandson, Obed so that her family line was not cut off.
When we are in the thick of our struggles how much easier is it to just give up, to get mad and to become bitter than to endure them faithfully.
It comes more naturally to get angry or impatient with God when we should be prayerful and trusting.
But don't forget that through it all God loves you. You suffer because He is divinely shaping you into a precious piece of gold fit for His kingdom.
How did you stand up to your most recent fiery trials? We're you burnt up and broken? Or did you walk out of it with a stronger faith like gold?
All quotes are in the ESV translation.