Does your soul and heart ache for those you love when they are hurting? Are you a source of strength for them?…Is someone there for you? Did your expectations become your reality?

“Did not I weep for him whose day was hard? Was not my soul grieved for the needy? But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came.”—Job 30:25-26

We find Job arguing with his friend Bildad for the third time. Can’t you just hear Job’s desperation and frustration? He compares his previous life–the one before he lost everything–to now. He speaks of times in the past where he wept and grieved with those who were struggling and hurting. Yet now that he was struggling and in need, he is alone. Expecting goodness and light, he instead finds evil and darkness. Oh how reality can negate our expectations in a heartbeat!

Can you relate to Job’s despair? Not only is Job’s situation very discouraging, but the fact that he is having to explain it to his friend–and for the third time!–makes it even worse! Wow, no one needs friends like that–but we all know them (or unfortunately, have even been one), right? These friends are with us when things are going great–but the minute things turn bad, they don’t seem to be around. Or if they are around, like Bildad, they believe we must have done something to deserve whatever it is that is happening. Sometimes, being doubted by them can be worse than being deserted.

To be fair, many times friends are just unaware, or very busy with their own issues/trials. They probably presume someone else will be around to help. Or, they’re just scared, or don’t understand the situation or can’t believe what’s happening. They see us hurting, and they don’t know what to say, much less how to help. They certainly don’t want to think the same thing could happen to them–so inwardly (and sometimes outwardly as Bildad above) they may try to justify to themselves what is going on in the situation. We all hate to think bad or difficult things happen to good people. But, as we all know–they do. Life isn’t fair. We were never promised otherwise. In fact, for Christians, in 1 Peter 4:12 we are told not to be surprised at the fiery trials that will come upon us. It says will–not may.

God actually allows Satan to test us! We have the bird’s eye view (or actually higher than a bird’s eye) of Job’s situation. Back in the beginning of Job, we see that God and Satan were discussing Job and the type of man he was. We are allowed to see that Job was as he had described himself. He hadn’t done anything wrong! He had been living right. In fact, Job 1:1 tells us that he was blameless, upright, feared God and turned away from evil. In Job 1:8-12, God actually brings Job, and the type of man he was, to Satan’s attention!  God then allows Satan to cause havoc and destruction in Job’s life in order to prove that he would still bless God, rather than curse him.

That’s hard to swallow, isn’t it? Life is hard. And things happen. That’s part of living in this sinful world. But, in addition to that–we see that other pressures and hardships that come upon us are allowed in our lives to test and prove us–in order to grow us. Through it all, nothing happens that God hasn’t allowed. How does that make you feel? Have you thought about it? For me, it’s both gratifying and also very difficult to hear. Job didn’t even know that at the time. But, thankfully, we have the complete picture. We know more than Job did about his situation. John 16:33 tells us that in the world we will have tribulation. But, we are to take heart because Jesus Christ has overcome the world!

My Prayer:

Dear Lord, Job is such a difficult–and depressing–book in the Bible. However, we are thankful it’s there. You allow us to see that we are not the only ones who struggle at times with life and what is happening around us. Job struggled. We also see that you work in the lives of those who bless you. You’re active and living. As difficult as it may be for us to understand, you allow trials in our lives. Not all difficulties are because of something we’ve done wrong. That’s both comforting and troubling at the same time. You allow us to speak out in anger or fear or confusion or even doubt. You love us and bless us anyway. You teach us. You show us that our expectations don’t always agree with reality. Sometimes that hurts so much. But, thankfully we know we are never truly alone–and you grieve and mourn with us.

We may feel like we’re alone. We may hurt because we expect to see friends or family by our side when we are struggling–and we can’t find them. Yet, we understand that they aren’t constant. As much as they love us, they are not always available– intentionally or unintentionally. But thankfully Lord, you are ever-present, compassionate, faithful and constant. Even when we may not feel you there–we know you are there (See: Who is Your Keeper?-Ps 121:5; Where is God?–Acts 17:27). Thank you for providing us peace in the midst of our pain and darkness. Thank you for loving us even if and when we are struggling, angry, frustrated and don’t understand. Finally, Lord, may we continue to learn about you, to feel your presence and to know that we are not alone. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.