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Then Job gave a feast for his brothers and sisters and for his old friends. They expressed their sorrow for the suffering the Lord had brought on him, and they each gave Job some silver and a gold ring. Job 42:11 (CEV)

A friend of mine was in a horrific accident a few years ago. Before the accident John (not his real name) was known for his temper. When things were going well he was a friendly cordial business man in our small town. When things weren’t going well everyone knew to stay out of his way. The problem escalated when John had been drinking. He wasn’t just an angry man, he was (by his own admission) and angry alcoholic.

As a result of his accident, John lost both of his legs. He was in a medically induced coma for several weeks to allow the brain and body to heal properly. When the day came to wake him up, everyone was ready for the worst. It didn’t happen. John woke up fully accepting the news of his legs and with a completely different personality. John also woke up completely surrendered to Jesus Christ.

John tells me that he had accepted Christ over 15 years earlier, but had chosen to live his own way. He was never happy. Guilt was a part of his life. Misery was temporarily dulled by chemicals but the chemicals always demanded more.

John is quick to tell anyone that will listen that the accident that took his legs was no accident at all. It was God’s way of bringing him to complete surrender to him. He takes full responsibility for his actions.

When horrible things happen to you or to others, how do you respond? Do you become bitter? Do you become angry? Do you play your entire deck of blame game cards? Sometimes things happen in our lives that we can point to as direct consequences of our actions. Other times, things happen in our lives for no apparent reason. How we respond in either situation tells us what our character is like.

John will tell you he is suffering the consequences of sin. Job was a man in the Bible who suffered terribly as well. He lost his children, his wealth and his health. Yet he remained faithful to God. God never explained to Job why he allowed those things to happen, but when his time of testing was over he was completely restored. Once restored Job held a great party for all his family and friends. He wasn’t bitter about his losses. He wasn’t angry over unwarranted pain and suffering. He was thankful to a God who is both mysterious and faithful. When God allows something unjust or justified to happen to us we can become angry, we can become bitter or we can endure and then celebrate.

PRAYER: Father God, when I’m honest with myself I have to admit that many of my struggles are my own doing and I deserve what I get. Other times I question your actions. Show me how I can live a life of celebration based on who you are, not on what I want. Amen.

You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your care you watched over my life. Job 10:12

Ever said to yourself, “I wish God would just send me an email or text message and tell me what to do!”?

Some of our texts would go something like this: “So, how can I tell my mom and dad I’m [pregnant; gay; dropping out of school]” or “Where should I apply for a job?” or “What is going to happen with this relationship? Should I pursue it, or leave it alone?” or “I’m going to the doctor in an hour, can you heal me before I go? If not, what’s the report going to say about my cancer?” or “The bank just called, God. The house is being foreclosed on. Can you tell me what to do next?”

The list goes on and on of the questions that come across our minds. Questions about how we should act/react, searching for guidance, advice, direction, and information on how to trust God more, or make him more a part of your life. The God we believe in is not only loving, gracious and merciful, he’s mysterious. Sometimes our pursuit of him and of the best way to travel this journey we call life seems to find one detour and/or dead end after another.

Look at the life of Job. A man steeped in wisdom and understanding. A worshipper of the true God. A man of great wealth and generosity to the community and his family. Yet in spite of all the good things he had going for him, financial, physical and relational attack landed him in a pile of ashes and scraping open sores with a broken bowl. Even Job’s so-called friends could offer no comfort or no answers.

Yet in the midst of his agony Job gives this stirring testimony of God’s presence and love in his life. He says [my paraphrase] “I wish you’d talk to me and tell me why all this stuff is happening to me. I’ve lost my kids, I’ve lost my wealth, my wife has lost faith in you and me, and these great friends of mine keep telling me to suck it up because if I hadn’t sinned this wouldn’t be happening. I know better God. I’ve seen in my walk with you that you are a great and compassionate God who has watched over me all my life.”

That’s real faith! Faith says that even though God seems a million miles away from me and my situation, I know I can trust Him to see me through. You see, no one who has ever sought grace and forgiveness has ever been denied. No one who has called out to Jesus in true repentance and faith has been ignored.

Remember Lazarus who lay on his death bed, looking down the street for his friend Jesus to come. He knew healing was in reach but it never came…until after he died. Think of the woman caught in adultery. Guilty? Yes. Ready to be stoned? You bet. But one by one her accusers left because of Jesus. Think of the thief on the cross. Moments from death and eternity in hell, yet in his last gasp he calls on Jesus and is ushered into eternal life with the Messiah.

Need a message from God? Look to his son Jesus for compassion and strength. Remind yourself of the great promises he gave you in his love letter we call the Bible. In your deepest need don’t forget that he is with you and waits to deliver you from whatever is keeping you from seeing his face.

PRAYER: Father God. Even though I believe in you and your Son Jesus, I confess that I often wonder where you are in the struggles of my life. Forgive me for the doubt. Remind me of the great promises you’ve given. Empower me to live in the grace only you can give. In Jesus name, Amen.

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February 2023
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