Four or Forty-Two?

How long do difficult situations or challenging seasons last? Obviously, every situation is different, but regardless, we all want our struggles to end as soon as possible. Often our trials, difficult times are more about how we respond than the issue itself.

The narrative of Job’s life is a snapshot of life. Like Job, all of us have life altering moments. In his self-named book, Job is described as a righteous man. He is blessed and favored with a great family, incredible wealth, and a good name. He is a man who worshipped and honored God. Still, life happens, and in one day his world is turned upside down.

Imagine the scene. Can you see Job rising from bed and prepping for “just another day.” Suddenly he is greeted by a servant with horrific news, all his oxen have been stolen. As that story is unfolding, a second servant arrives with news that a fire has consumed all his sheep. Trying to grasp the situation, a third servant arrives to with news that his camels have been stolen. As that servant is finishing, a final servant arrives with news that his children had been killed by severe storms. Job’s grief has to be overwhelming; one cannot imagine his pain. The next day Job wakes to more attacks, severe health issues have overtaken his body. His wife turns on him, saying, “curse God and die.” In just moments Job has lost all that seems to matter in life. His life is in shambles.

What ensues next is critically important. You may not realize it, but God giving us insight on how long trials have to last. After his life altering experience Job will be observed, accused, attacked, and judged by what I will loosely call, “friends.” They would say they are simply assessing Jobs situation, offering their opinion, but the truth is, it’s judgement. In response, Job will complain, defend, and deny the attacks and accusations. This banter is the narrative for the majority of the rest of the book.

Finally, after 36 chapters, Job stops listening to his accusers, stops excusing his actions, and begins listening to God. God, who has patiently watched and listened, finally gets an audience with Job. What follows, in likely a couple of hours, three short chapters, is revelation. Job quickly sees God, His power and glory. Also, for the first time, Job acknowledges how small and insignificant he is. Humility replaces haughtiness. With this fresh understanding, a spirit of repentance sweeps over Job, and God restores and multiplies Job’s blessings and favor. What could and should have happened as the storm hit Job’s life, in chapter three of his book, instead happens after much later.

Going through a tough time? Trying to meander through a difficult season of life? Maybe the answer is as close as shutting out the unnecessary noise, closing our mouth, and opening our heart to God’s voice. How long will it take? Will the struggle, difficult moment, be a couple of paragraphs or a lengthy novel. Will it be four chapters or 42? It’s really up to us. God will patiently wait.

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