As I reflect on the current collective climate of struggle people all over the world are facing today, I thought I might share a repost from a few years ago. I trust you will be encouraged by it.
Challenging Thought for Today: Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Job 38:3 (NIV)
King James Version
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
No matter which version you read, the results are the same. In the book of Job, after almost 40 chapters of silence during Job’s suffering, God speaks. And, the first thing he says is “brace yourself like a man.” I have read that story more than once, but this verse hit me hard last week.
When I was young I used to hear older people say all the time that you can read the same bible verses over and over and get something new every time. I don’t know what I got from today’s challenge verse or the entire book of Job for that matter, all of the other times I read it, but I know that last week, I stopped and said, “Wait, did God just tell Job to Man Up?” Of course, I realize that translation is from the SG (Shelia Gaines) version. But, that’s basically what he was saying.
He didn’t say. “Job, don’t worry about it. One day your name will be synonymous with patience. Books will be written about you and sermons will be preached about your contribution to the topics of suffering and sovereignty. Besides, none of this was your fault anyway. I allowed it to happen. I knew you could handle it and that you would eventually see my glory.”
Nope. God did not mention any of that, although all of it was true. He simply reminded Job that as the sovereign God, he is still in control. His grace is still sufficient. Earlier on in his suffering, Job questioned the justice of God in taking him through such a trial. In the end, he repented of that error in judgement and humbly re-submitted himself to the will of God. Occasionally as I face my most intense challenges in life, I will compare them to the suffering of Job and that of Christ. Yep, you guessed it. They pale in comparison.
However, I don’t mean to imply that our struggles aren’t serious or that our pain isn’t real, just that we are not alone in the struggle. Notice I didn’t say “every time” I face a challenge, I compare it to the suffering of Job, just occasionally. Besides, if I got it right every time, there would be no room for growth, right?
Seriously speaking, however, we have probably all been guilty of making permanent mountains out of the temporary molehills in our lives. As my pastor often alludes to, there is a big difference between having a bad day and having a season of struggle.
The story of Job’s struggle is much too long and complex for one blog post, but suffice it to say that he didn’t just have a bad day. Without warning, he lost everything, his wealth, his children, his health, and his good standing within the community. Everything. He had a bad season. But, God!
Job held to integrity and he didn’t lose his faith.
Did you ever wonder why we weren’t told how long Job had to suffer? Maybe because the fortitude of Job during the suffering is more important than the length of time he had to endure it.
Are you in a season of struggle? Perhaps you just came out of one. Maybe you see one looming ahead of you. Why not broaden your perspective and read the book of Job again or for the first time? And when you feel like giving up, reflect on Job’s struggle and maybe, just maybe, instead of giving up, you’ll have the strength to Man up!