Ahh youth. Many of us older folk may wish we could go back to the days when we knew everything, too. Elihu, the youngest of Job’s friends, speaks boldly. He brushes off the arguments of the other three as though they were crumbs on the front of his shirt. “Pay attention, Job,” he keeps saying. “I will teach you wisdom.” (32:33)
Of course Elihu is going to talk about the “why” of suffering. But he puts a slightly different slant on the subject than the other three did. He suggests the trials of life are not always about judgment, reaping what we sow, or God’s discipline for sin. He says in chapter 36 that sometimes God is “wooing (us) from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction...”
Maybe God allows the trials of life to serve as a means of preventing us from sinning. I think of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” Did that pain (physical or emotional) keep Paul from pride, or self-satisfaction? Did that affliction help to keep Paul grounded so that he could be the fruitful evangelist he was?
Here’s what I get out of Job: Trouble and hardship and sickness and grief are a part of life on planet Earth. Accept it. Then, instead of wasting time trying to figure out “why?” ask God, “what?”
What is it You want me to learn?
What do you want me to do with this that will help someone find You?
What danger is this situation keeping me from?
Then, Elihu speaks these words in 33:23-24:
Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, to be gracious to him and say, “Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him”…
Did you hear it? We have that mediator, that One who has ransomed us and keeps us from going down to the pit.
Yesterday my pastor shared from Mark 4 in God’s Word, where Jesus calmed the storm. Where were the disciples during this storm that frightened even those seasoned fishermen? They were in the boat with Jesus!
What did those disciples do when the storm became so violent? They called on Him!
Storms, battles, hardships, trials, pain, whatever you call it will come. But we never have to go through any of it alone. If you know Jesus as your Savior, He is in that rocking boat right there with you. He may choose to calm the raging storm that surrounds you, or He may command the waves of doubt and fear within you to “Hush, be still.”
But God, who does all things well, promises to never leave you or forsake you in good times or bad. Call on Him. Lean on Him. Surrender to Him.
Because in Him is joy and peace that transcends even the worst situations. I’ve seen it in the smile of a woman fighting cancer, in the eyes of a mother who buried her son, in the selfless actions of a widow, in the song of man mourning the loss of his dear wife.
My prayer is that, if you are going through a storm, you will let go of the “why,” and turn your eyes instead on Jesus. He will teach you what you need to know, He’ll be your strength, and He’ll calm the storm as only He can. You can trust Him.