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.

Just Stand

Christian artist Donnie McClurkin wrote a song many years ago entitled, “Stand.” It’s a song that I love to go back to when life gets difficult and I’m unsure of what to do. The initial verse opens with a series of questions, the first, “what do you do, when you’ve done all you can, and feels like it never enough.” It continues with “what do you do when you given it all, and it seems like you can’t make it through. Each verse continues with similar difficult situations, asking the same question, what do you do when… Thankfully, McClurkin doesn’t just ask questions, but offers solutions. It’s found in the chorus, “well you just stand, when there’s nothing left to do, you just stand, watch the Lord see you through, yes, after you done all you can, you just stand.” While his solution sounds simple, I’ve often found it to be the best answer. When Moses and the children of Israel stood in front of an impossibility, the Red Sea, God’s word to Moses for the people, “stand and see the glory of the Lord.” What did the disciples do when being accused in court by Pharisees and the Sanhedrin? They stood and said we will not deny the name or power of Jesus. How have we survived hardships, hurts and difficulties? What has been the solution to the issues and battles we’ve faced as a family? Simple. Stand. Stand on the Word of God. Stand in your faith. Stand on your knees in prayer. Stand in the power of God. Make the last nine words of McClurkin’s song your statement after every question, storm, or battle of life; “After you’ve done all you can, you just stand.”

Because Storms Come

What do we do when there is a forecast of an impending snowstorm? We head to the grocery store. We load up on bread, milk, eggs and other essentials. We top off the car with fuel, head home with a trunk full of groceries, prepared for the storm. Wake up to a forecast that says rain and we grab a jacket and an umbrella. Being prepared is vital to surviving a storm, whether rain, snow or the storms of life. Why fast? Because storms are coming. It’s not a maybe or possibility, it’s not the question of if, but when will the storms hit. This year there will be unexpected job losses, sickness, emotional hurt, life disappointments and difficulties we don’t anticipate. Knowing storms are in the future, what do we do? We prepare. We pray. We fast. We make our relationship with God a priority. That’s how we prepare spiritually. Jesus went into the wilderness, full of the Spirit, but comes out in the power of the Spirit. What happened in the wilderness? He was tempted. He fasted. He came out ready for all the challenges lie ahead. Paul was converted on the Damascus Road, but before he ever preached a message, God sent him to an Arabian desert. What happened in the desert? He prayed and fasted. He was being prepared for the impending storms; shipwrecks, stonings, beatings, persecution and jail, all storms that lay in front of Paul. How did he survive? Spiritual preparation. What does 2021 hold? God only knows, but one thing I do know, there will be storms. Are you preparing? How we prepare today will determine how we handle the storms and if we will survive. Fast today because storms are coming.