Brokenhearted? Crushed Spirit? Find Comfort in Suffering
This week I am featuring a guest post from Heather Owen. Heather has a masters in theology, and I go to her with a lot of my Bible questions. You can see more from Heather at her site, Genuine Stewards.
Often, when Christians are struggling with loss or doubt of various shapes and sizes, we tend to turn to Psalms for comfort. Psalm 34:18 tells us that God is close to the brokenhearted, that He saves those who are crushed in spirit, and reminds us that even the righteous have many troubles. There is great comfort in that verse alone indeed, as there are in many Psalms.
He Lost Everything
I would like to send you to a less likely place in God’s Word for comfort; Job. Job is the poster child for loss and suffering. A righteous man “of perfect integrity who feared God and turned away from evil.”
God told Satan that there was no one else on earth like Job. Satan challenged Job’s righteousness as a product of divine circumstance. Satan basically told God “Sure, he’s righteous now, with your hedge of protection around Him and your abundant blessing. Let him suffer and see how quickly he curses you.”
Satan was given power over everything Job owned but was not given permission to harm Job’s person. All his herds of sheep, camel, oxen, and donkeys (source of wealth and provision) collapsed within a day, destroyed by natural disaster and raids, along with all his many servants. Within that same day, all his children were killed in a house collapse.
Can you imagine the suffering? To lose your home, your business, and your children in just one day.
And then more…
Satan then gained permission to attack Job’s health as well. Covered with incurable boils from head to toe, infected and oozing, Job was steadfast in his faith and would not curse God, even as his wife urged him to do so.
Rather than bringing comfort, his friends questioned his integrity, insisting that there must be some secret hidden sin causing his afflictions or that he just wasn’t praying faithfully enough, and eventually branding him a liar. Job questioned his afflictions, he questioned God, he railed against what he was enduring. He was human, but he still never spoke against God or spoke anything but the truth about God (Job: 42:7).
How is this Comforting?
The words of so many Psalms are certainly more immediately uplifting and encouraging. So why am I focusing on Job, poster child of suffering? Because Job is also the textbook illustration of restoration.
God restored Job’s wealth and multiplied far beyond what it had been. Job had seven more sons, three more daughters, and lived a full and healthy life after being restored to his former health. He lived another 140 years, in which he saw four generations of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When he begged and pleaded for death, when he cursed the day he was born, when he was literally covered with maggots and dirt and festering wounds, he could not imagine the blessings that were yet in store for him.
And neither will you.
What We Have that Job Didn’t
Here’s the really good news, we have something that Job never had. We have God’s specifically revealed Word in its entirety. This means that we know that we will not be relieved of suffering in this life, and that in fact, we are to expect it because Christ, our Lord, suffered first (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:7).
We have specific assurances about how our story ends- whole, healed, and perfect as co-heirs in the Kingdom of Christ. Like Job, however, our suffering does not come from the hand of our good Father, but rather from the hand of the enemy of our souls. He has power on this earth just as he did over Job.
A principle borne throughout all of scripture is that God will take what is intended for the harm of His children (those who love Him and follow Him) and use it for their ultimate good. In all things, Job submitted and surrendered himself to the authority of God, even when he could not fathom why he was suffering unjustly. He trusted God even when he thought all was lost, even when his own wife thought he was foolish to do so.
God’s faithful love is unchanging, now, then, forever more. I find no comfort in this life greater than to know this and to have experienced it.
A Word About Sutherland Springs
When I was asked to write about finding comfort in God’s Word, my first thought was the unchanging nature of God. His attributes of love, justice, and mercy as they are demonstrated throughout scripture. But that would be a book, not a blog post, and AW Tozer already penned that far better than I ever could when he wrote Knowledge of the Holy.
My second thought was how well the story of Job illustrates God’s loving faithfulness even in the face of the most unimaginable misery. This was before the tragic events unfolded in Sutherland Springs, Texas last week. Suddenly, as the news broke and details emerged, the unimaginable misery of Job unfolded before us in present day.
Reporters and celebrities mocked the response of prayer and steadfast faith in the face of such tragedy. They cursed a God who would let this happen. In this small community, some lost it all, in just one day, much like Job. Like Job, they will likely question God as they grieve and mourn, they may rail against the suffering and ask hard questions of Him.
I pray that also, like Job, they will remain steadfast in their faith and trust in God. I pray that like Job, God will bring about a healing and a restoration in their lives that they cannot yet begin to imagine.
You Too Can Be Restored
Whatever has broken your heart, crushed your spirit, burdened you with a weight of grief and sorrow that you feel you can’t bear another day- I pray that you will consider Job and be comforted that our God is a God of faithful love and restoration. Know that even as you go through this soul crushing time He is with you. Lean in, dear friend, He will restore you.
Heather Owen is a Christ follower who longs for everyone to know His love and to be transformed by it. She is a wife, mom, mother-n-law and homeschooler. She has a ThM in Biblical Studies and is almost finished with her second seminary graduate degree. Heather is a lover of books, hot tea, travel and Disney. Her greatest passion is to equip others to study scripture for themselves in proper context and to then practically apply it in daily life. Check her out at www.genuinestewards.com