“Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head, and by his light I walked through darkness, as I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent, when the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were all around me, when my steps were washed with butter, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!" - Job 29:2-6 ESV
“But now they laugh at me, men who are younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the dogs of my flock." - Job 30:1 ESV
Job once enjoyed the praise of men. He was once the helper of the afflicted. But now he must endure the disdain even of the “rabble” of his community. I’m afraid that is a very common secondary effect of loss, the loss of the companionship and praise of those around you.
The grief-stricken often feels abandoned by whoever has passed, whether their husband or child or parent or sibling, but they also must wrestle through feelings of abandonment by God. To then experience the loss of their place in their community or “friend circle,” is to heap grief upon grief.
In reading through Job, I want to apply what I’m reading to how I treat my friends who are going through loss. I want to be better at reaching out and walking with them. How about you?
Heavenly Father, thank You for all of Your grace. You are impartial. You do not love us better when we are enjoying the praise of man. You do not love us better when our houses are full of children and laughter. You are with us in the dark and trying times. I pray that I would go and do likewise. Help me to draw near to the brokenhearted, to be close to those who are in times of deep distress. Help me to hear these words of Job and apply them to my own life. In the name of Christ I pray, Amen.
Read through the Bible in 2 years: Job 16-17; Psalm 23
After Job’s friend, Eliphaz, shares his human wisdom with his grieving friend (Job 15), it comes Job’s turn to reply. Job’s first words to his friends are, “I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all.”
Ain’t that the truth? Miserable counselors they have been. When you’ve lost all ten of your children, all of your possessions, and even your health, do you really want to hear words like, “Why does your heart carry you away, and why do your eyes flash, that you turn your spirit against God and bring such words out of your mouth?” (Job 15:12)
Remember, friends, there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. I pray that we learn to speak those words that fit the occasion, to ask the Holy Spirit, our great counselor, to guide us in what to say to a grieving friend.
So, how amazing it was to then read Psalm 23 right on the heels of the words of Job’s heartache.
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me." - Psalm 23:1-4 ESV
Job’s friends truly were miserable comforters, but God’s rod and staff bring comfort to His sheep.
According to GotQuestions.org, the shepherd’s rod was a “sturdy wooden stick used as a weapon to fight off wild animals” while the shepherd’s staff was “a long, slender stick, often hooked at the tip, used primarily to direct the sheep…. The shepherd used his staff to keep his sheep out of danger and close to himself…. Together the rod and the staff of Psalm 23 paint a picture of the divine Shepherd who wields them. He is strong, competent, and trustworthy; He is present with His sheep, able to defend them and watch over them through all the dangers they face.”
Jesus truly is our very good shepherd who comforts us in all our affliction. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
Please help us to be patient with our friends when they say stupid things because they just don’t know what to say. I’m sure it hurts them to see us hurting. Help us to have grace toward them when they are terrible comforters and say things that make our pain even worse.
I pray that we will trust You all the more as we see what miserable counselors even our dearest friends are. You, Father, are our greatest comforter. Apply Your Word like a balm to our hurting soul. Speak to us through Your Words, healing our brokenness for Your glory, comforting us that we can comfort others.
Lord, I want to thank You in all circumstances and trust that You have purpose in my pain. As I walk through the dark valley, will you please grow my faith muscles? Help me to see Your light glowing at the end of the tunnel, guiding me with your merciful staff and fending away my enemies with Your righteous, rugged rod.
I pray that You will someday use my pain to comfort others who find themselves in pain. Teach me how to speak fit words for hurting hearts. Lead me with Your wisdom to when to speak and when to be silent, when to exhort and when to encourage. I want to be an instrument of Your peace, to be my brother’s keeper, to love my neighbor as myself, and to comfort others with the comfort that we have received from You.
In the Name of our Perfect Comforter, Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.
You can feel Job wrestling between how he feels in his heart and what he knows is true in his mind. On the one hand, Job wishes that God would go far away from him and leave him alone, yet he knows that God is good and his only hope for salvation.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever wrestled between your mind and your emotions?
And in the middle of that wrestling Job says these nine profound words.
Can we say that with Job?
No matter what God puts us through, He is still our only hope. What is this life without hope? How can we get through the tragedies of daily life without trusting in a good and Sovereign God?
Truly He is our only hope in life and death.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the hope that we have in this life, that even our pain has purpose. Thank You for the hope that we have in eternity, that You will wipe every tear from our eyes and we will behold your glory face to face. We lift up our grieving sisters to you and ask you to encourage them. Please do not take your hand from them, even when they ask you to. Hold them close in your hand even when they’re in the fire. We love you and worship you and thank you for giving us the book of Job to know that we are never alone. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
Read through the Bible in 2 years: Psalm 21, Job 8
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults! You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head. He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever. His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him. For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence. - Psalm 21:1-6
Reading Psalm 21, I think about how much the Lord has blessed me. No, He never made me a king like David with power and riches and splendor and majesty, but He has bestowed on me the greatest blessing: He has made me glad with the joy of His presence.
But then to read Job chapter 8, and to ponder the words of Job’s friend Bildad who though he spoke truth – God is just, God will restore Job’s fortunes and bless his life, the godless will surely not prosper – I was reminded of Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Bildad’s words were not fitly spoken because they did not come from a heart of humility and tenderness. How can our words be fitting when our heart is not right? How can we speak such words when a friend has just lost all of their children and possessions? Friends, we must be careful not only in what we say, but how and when.
Will you pray with me?
Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Let me look upon Your glory and see Your face. May my words be as heartfelt as they are true. Thank You for the joy of Your presence. You have indeed made me glad as I have trusted in You. You are always good. Make me more like You.
The two lowest times in my life were in March of 1994 and October of 1998. Yet these were also the two times when Jesus began to radically transform my faith.
March 1994 was when I finally broke up with my fiance, Eric, and moved to St. Louis. Shortly thereafter I met Jesus and began a whole new life with Him by my side.
October 1998 was when I found out that our stillborn son’s body had been lost by the hospital after his autopsy. I couldn’t understand why God would allow this to happen. My son being stillborn was painful enough …. Why this?
I wrestled and struggled and mourned and questioned and grieved for months. What had I done wrong? Was God punishing me? I didn’t want to go to church. I didn’t want to have playdates with my friends and their children. I just wanted to curl up in bed and stay there.
My friends couldn’t understand the depth of my pain. “He wasn’t even full-term.” “You’ll have another.” “I had a miscarriage, too, once. You’ll get over it. Give it some time.” “It was just a body.” Their words dug into my heart like so many little piercing arrows.
I distanced myself from my friends, and they distanced themselves from me, too. I couldn’t relate to them … And they couldn’t relate to me, either. They didn’t want to just sit and grieve with me day after day. A few days of crying was enough, wasn’t it? Why was this still going on weeks and even months later?
This was when the book of Job really entered my life for the first time. Actually, I had first met Job casually in college when I read it as a “great work of ancient literature” in one of my liberal arts classes. But 1998 is when Job’s words pierced my heart even deeper than my friends’ words.
Out of all that pain and confusion God again did something new in my heart. He grew my faith in new and profound ways. He taught me to trust Him even when I don’t understand. He taught me that He is good even when people aren’t. He taught me that I can always turn to Him in my pain and suffering.
This week, reading Job again, really taking time to sit and study and journal and think, Job’s piercing words are aimed at my heart in a new way. Have I withheld kindness from a friend? Have I made light of a friend’s suffering? Can I look my friend in the eye and hold her hand in her grief?
Sisters, let’s not make the same mistakes as Job’s friends. Let’s run toward our friends in their pain, being willing to mourn with those who mourn, rather than running away out of fear and discomfort.
Let’s pray together.
Your grace is sufficient for me for Your power is made perfect in my weakness. Thank You for giving us this book of Job, that we could better understand the grief of men and the goodness of God. Please help us to be good friends, to run towards those who are hurting instead of running away. Help us to be willing to sit and listen, instead of always trying to speak and fix. Make us vessels of Your love and peace and kindness and comfort.
I’ve often found myself in the position of encourager. People come to me when they need prayer or encouragement or words of wisdom. This is certainly a blessing from God, and I’m honored to serve my sisters in this way. But … what about when it’s me who needs the prayer and encouragement and words of wisdom? Will I be able to take my own advice or will I crumble under the weight? Will my friends take the opportunity to encourage me, or will they point out my shortcomings in my sorrow?
After sitting silently with Job for seven days and nights (Job 2:13) Job’s friend, Eliphaz, finally speaks. His friend’s first words aren’t, “I’m so sorry, Job. I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through. I’m with you and I’ll stay with you through thick and thin. I’m glad to have you as a friend.”
No, Job’s friends’ first words are:
"If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? Yet who can keep from speaking? Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed." - Job 4:3-5
Can I just say how much a simple word of thanksgiving and encouragement can strengthen a heavy heart? Today, at a youth Bible study where I teach, one of the students’ moms approached me and asked if she could take my picture. She went on to explain how much her daughter loves me and that she’s always telling her grandma about “Mrs. Kim.” That put wind in my sails like nothing else. Those few words encouraged me to keep on keeping on.
Something as simple as a hand-written note or a comment on a blog saying, “Thanks for taking the time to write this. Your words really ministered to me,” might just be what that person needs that day. Click the “like” button. Forward a message to someone else who is hurting.
Will we be like the one leper who returned to give Jesus thanks for healing him? Or like the nine who received healing and kept right on their merry way, healed but unappreciative? (Luke 17:11-19)
Sisters, will you pray for me? I’d sure appreciate it.
Will you encourage those who have encouraged you? I know they’d appreciate it.
Thank You for Your faithful, never-ending grace and encouragement. You never grow tired. You never feel hopeless. You always see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I pray for my sisters who are facing trials today – who have lost a child, a parent, a job. I pray for the one who is losing hope today, who feels like the sun will never shine again, who feels like they can’t make it one more step.
Will you please send someone to them to encourage them? Will You please use me to speak life to someone who needs it? Will You please pour Your love lavishly into my heart, so I have love to give to the next one? Make me Your vessel. Make Your Word a balm to their heavy soul.
Father, I am so weak and I grow weary. Please, Father, encourage me. Pour into me. Lift up my hands and my head. Let me not lose heart. Please send friends around me to lift me up, that I will not faint.
Read through the Bible in 2 years: Psalm 20; Job 3
When I was a new Christian learning how to pray, I noticed that people would often pray for “a hedge of protection” around someone. I had never heard that phrase before, but I started using it myself, asking God to put a hedge of protection around my children, my husband, my house.
Yesterday we looked at Job 1:9-11, “Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.””
But what about the previous verse, Job 1:8?
I simply love this verse. Job was a blameless, upright man who feared God and turned away from evil, and yet the Lord said, “Hey, Satan, have you considered my servant Job?”
The Lord removed that hedge of protection, allowing — inviting — the enemy’s attacks on His righteous servant, Job, and Satan stripped everything away from him – his possessions, his children, his health, even his wife’s encouragement, yet “in all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10) Lord, may the same be true of me.
Today, though, my heart broke as I dove into Job 3, reading about when Job cursed the day he was born. But if I’m honest with myself, I can relate all too well to Job’s pain.
I’ve gone through the pain of my husband losing his job and our family being forced to move to a new city for a job. I’ve gone through the painful loss of a one-year-old nephew and a preborn son. I’ve gone through the pains of an aging father and more health scares (click here or here or here or here) than I care to recall. Sometimes I have wished that heaven would hurry and get here.
And yet, I can say with full assurance, all of God’s ways have been right and good. He has grown my faith in Him during those times of pain. He has indeed sheltered me under His wings. He has taught me the wisdom and truth of Psalm 20:7.
So, today, whether you are feeling the glorious hedge of God’s protection (Job 1:10) or the painful hedge of thorny trials (Job 3:23), I pray that you will put your trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Will you pray with me?
Your grace is sufficient for me. Your strength is made perfect when I am weak. Whether I can feel Your presence or You feel a million miles away, help me to trust that You are always with me. Whether I’m on the mountain top or in the valley bottom, help me to see Your rod and staff guiding me.Let me not trust in any man-made rescue plan, but place my trust fully in You and You alone. You are trustworthy. Thank You for the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. The blood of Jesus is my faithful hedge of protection.
"Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” Job 1:9-12 ESV
Like I wrote yesterday, “We learn of God’s grace as we are humbled. Surely these afflictions are for our good. It is good to recognize that nothing on earth will ever be enough. Treasures on earth – whether monetary or relational – will never satisfy. Our lives are better because of the thorns that the Lord has in His mercy given us. Our faith grows as it is stretched.”
No one is a better example of this than Job!
Friends, it’s a blessing to have your faith tested. When your faith is tested, it GROWS and it shows you and everyone around you that it’s REAL!
Thank you for the gifts that You have given us – our health, our children, our home, our jobs, all of our possessions. They are gifts.
Draw our hearts to You, Lord. Forgive us for turning to these gifts instead of turning to You.
May we say with Job, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed by the name of the Lord.” None of us want to go through the sorrow of losing our children, our possessions, or our own health. But, Father, none of those things can ever truly satisfy.
You are our God, our refuge, our hope, our joy, our strength. Our faith is in You alone. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
In the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.
"So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt." Genesis 45:4-8 ESV
I have a quick question for y’all – Have you ever been sold into slavery by your brothers? No? Me neither.
Have you ever been hurt by anyone in your life? Yes? Me, too.
When someone hurts you, it can be hard to forgive them. Sometimes it feels like you can’t “let them off” by forgiving them. You can take on the roll of punisher – wanting them to pay for what they’ve done to you.
But let’s think about Joseph’s words here — what if we saw God’s hand at work even in our pain? How would that change your desire to punish someone who hurt you? Wouldn’t that make true forgiveness a whole lot easier?
The truth is that God is always at work, accomplishing the best ends through the best means for the most people. Sometimes people get hurt during that … And sometimes those people are YOU …
Will you pray with me?
I trust You. I trust Your heart. I trust Your mercy and kindness and grace and power. You have proven Yourself to be good and faithful – in Your Word and in my life. But, Father, sometimes things look really bad to me. In fact, sometimes those things really are bad. It’s wrong to sell your brother into slavery. That is wrong. Yet, Lord, you worked through that unthinkable tragedy to bring great good for a great number of people with fruit still being born even today.
I pray that I would trust You with all my heart, soul, and mind. Help me to remember Your steadfast faithfulness to Joseph and me now and forever.
Genesis 42 kicks off with the famine having spread to the land of Canaan, thereby forcing Jacob to send his sons to Egypt to buy grain. Jacob sends ten of his remaining sons, but refuses to send Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin, the only other son of Rachel, “for he feared that harm might happen to him.” (Genesis 42:4) Jacob is still playing favorites, like I wrote about here.
As though that’s not bad enough, even after Simeon (Jacob’s second son from his unloved wife, Leah) is left behind in Egypt, Jacob continues to insist that Benjamin cannot go to Egypt, saying, “My son shall not go down with you [Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn son], for his brother [Joseph] is dead, and he is the only one left.” (Genesis 42:38) In fact, Jacob still has eight other sons in addition to Reuben left at home, namely Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, and Zebulun.
How would you feel if you heard your father say such a thing about one of your brothers?
Wouldn’t you want to scream and cry and stomp your feet, “Hey, Dad, what about me? Don’t you love me? Aren’t I your son? What about me and my children? What if we starve here from this famine?”
When the famine becomes even more severe and all the Egyptian grain has been consumed, Jacob is finally willing to send his sons again to Egypt to buy food. (Keep in mind, Simeon had been left in Egypt as a captive all this time.)
Judah, Jacob’s fourth son who was also born to Leah, solemnly pledges to his father, “From my hand you shall require him [Benjamin]. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.” (Genesis 43:9 ESV)
To which Jacob finally relents, “May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. As for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” (Genesis 43:14)
Now, put yourself in the shoes of Judah, or one of Leah’s other sons or worse yet one of the sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah or Leah’s servant Zilpah. Imagine hearing your father refer to Simeon, your big brother as “your other brother” while Rachel’s son is referred to by name. Benjamin, Jacob’s last son. Benjamin, the only remaining son of Rachel, Jacob’s dearly loved wife who died during his birth. Benjamin, the “son of my right hand.”
Whether spoken intentionally or not, Jacob’s words communicated to his children that Benjamin is more valuable than they are. Read Judah’s own words to Joseph about his dad at the end of Genesis 44.
In spite of the pain that his father has caused him, Judah still loves his dad. He may not be expecting a prodigal son’s welcome home — no father running to him with arms open wide. Rather, he is expecting to arrive home to a father who is looking behind him to see if his baby brother is there. And yet … Judah is still worried about the deep pain that his brother’s loss will cause his father.
Are you having a hard time loving someone who has hurt you again and again? Are you struggling to forgive someone who repeatedly has broken your heart?
How I long to see you face to face, to sit at your feet and have every tear wiped away from my eyes. How I ache for the pain and sin and sorrow of this world to be over.
But, Father, in the meantime, help me to love as Your Son loved. Remind me how much You have forgiven me. Show me my sin.
Help me to forgive even those who forget me and reject me and spit in my face. I want to forgive others as You have forgiven me.
Lord, I can’t do this on my own. I need Your strength. Help me to see the log in my own eye, to accept responsibility for where my own sin has contributed to the pain that I find myself in.
I want to overcome evil with good for You are good and I am Yours.
In the Good and Gracious name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
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