By Aaron Brown, Crosswalk.com
I have a great question for those who consider themselves Christian. Is there any greater source of wisdom than the Holy Bible? Throughout life, we find ourselves walking high across the mountains and low through the valleys. There are seasons where life feels like perfect bliss and other times like a perfect mess. How do we learn to fully embrace the good, and correctly handle the bad?
Do we turn to the Bible or to the world for answers?
These are important questions to consider after over a year of intense politics, the global spread and fear of an illness, and witnessing death and violence in riots. Some of us have been able to reassemble normalcy into our lives, but there are still many people struggling. Children have lost a lot of socialization with their peers, fallen behind in school, and missed out on experiences like prom. Adult relationships have been fractured along political ideologies, and many have turned to discriminating against those who disagree with them.
And we have all felt the isolating effects of social distancing. People whom we once saw often, we saw rarely if at all. Naturally, some relationships weakened, others disappeared altogether.
Though these are the current circumstances for many, suffering has always been a part of the human experience. Jesus told His disciples a very important message. He explained that in the world there would be suffering, but He gave us hope in spite of that truth (John 16:33).
Jesus knew that through Him, through God, and through Scripture, we could find a guide to help us choose how we respond to suffering. There is wisdom to be found in our faith, wisdom that the world simply cannot offer. No matter where suffering takes us, there is a way to overcome it. Scripture says as much and illustrates this through those who came before us, those who had to endure their own trials.
Job stated, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)
David exclaimed, “Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.” (Psalm 139:7-8)
Jesus spoke, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:35)
These are 3 biblical men for the lost, anxious, and afraid. Have those words ever described you? Do you feel those emotions today? Take heart – through these men and their testimonies we can learn how to better respond to our circumstances today, and forever. By following their example, we will start seeing God as bigger than our problems.
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A Lesson from Job on God’s Provision
The Bible does acknowledge that innocent people suffer. Job was regarded as a man who stood out from the crowd for his righteous qualities (Job 1:1). He was a godly man, and rich as well. He had a wife, many children, and plenty of real estate. Scripture presents him in a very positive light, though we know all people sin (Romans 3:23). Sin may have been present in Job’s life, but sin did not rule him, thus he lived a very blessed and peaceful existence.
His peace and innocence were tested when God allowed Satan to strip Job of all he owned (Job 1:12). God allowed this action but did not permit Satan to harm Job physically. Following this, Job began losing what he owned, but he still clung to God. Then God allowed the Devil to make Job sick but did not permit Job to be killed (Job 2:6). As Job tore his clothes and wept over his suffering, he had questions and concerns, but he did not blame God. He blamed himself and cursed the day he was born (Job 3:3-4).
From the very beginning of Job’s story to the end, God provided for Job. He was in control of Job’s situation, revealed through His limitations on Satan. God’s control is also highlighted at the end of the Book of Job. Our protagonist lost his children and real estate, but God, in the end, blessed him with more than he ever had (Job 42:12). How long did Job suffer through his losses? Scripture does not answer this question, but we can imagine this occurring over the course of many years, especially if he had new children.
When we suffer in our day-to-day lives, we are not given a timeline on how long-suffering will occur. We cannot predict when we will be in either the good or bad seasons of life. Yet, God is aware. Not only that, but God provides what we need wherever we are in life. God doesn’t take things from us without giving something back in return. Even if we suffer until the point of death, there is a certain promise for believers, and that is the provision of salvation.
A Lesson from David on God’s Protection
David wrote a great many heartfelt psalms to the God he worshipped. He had plenty of reasons to create music from the abundant variety of experiences he had. He was once a shepherd, and then underwent the drastic change of being anointed into kingship. David also conspired and successfully had a man killed so that he could covet the man’s wife (2 Samuel 11:1-27). The psalmist found himself successful in his fight against Goliath, but was on the run from the previous king Saul, as well as from his own son Absalom. These experiences definitely reveal some ups and downs in David’s life.
While our lives may be far less political and scary, his psalms reveal an important quality about God – His protection. David was comfortable with asking God deep and honest questions; questions that in themselves spoke to his frustrations and doubts (Psalm 13:1). As comfortable as David was asking these questions, he was also comfortable trusting in God, because He knew God would deliver him (Psalm 13:5-6). He experienced God protecting him against his son, Saul, Goliath, and others. Imagine having an army prepared to end your life. David showed us that even under such dire circumstances, trusting in God can be possible. God will always protect us.
This does not mean that bad things will not happen to us; what we don’t reap in this life, we can reap in the next. Jesus is the evidence for this, and the final man to take away a lesson from.
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A Lesson from Jesus on God’s Will
From the moment He is born of a virgin to His death and resurrection, we learn that Jesus is the embodiment of God's will. Jesus said that He came to do what the Father instructed, and He did just that (John 6:38). What wisdom Jesus had, He imparted on His disciples to go out and share with the world (Matthew 28:16-20). The Great Commission stands even today with the modern-day believer.
Everything Jesus did, He did to glorify God’s name. Every miracle performed or sermon preached served to advance God’s purpose. In His life, there were moments Jesus was alone, many moments. He experienced the temptation of sin and even experienced isolation from God on the cross (Matthew 27:46). In that moment, Jesus experienced the separation from God that we will never have to, thanks to His actions. From beginning to end, Jesus did what God had commanded, what the prophets foretold. In following God’s will, Jesus presents to us how to walk according to God’s tenets, that is to say, how to walk in wisdom.
Following God’s will does not promise a life without struggle, but much as Jesus died and was resurrected, the same is true for the believer that follows God until the end, no matter the nature of that end. God’s will helps us to live according to Him, and He will bless us accordingly. We may feel lost, anxious, and afraid, but no matter what we feel, we can know God is readily available to us. He hears us even in the darkest moments.
What Do These Men Reveal About God’s Character?
There are many lessons to learn from the various stories of Job, David, and Jesus. One of the many factors they have in common is their reveal of God’s love.
God loved Job enough to restore him and give him more than he had before. God loved David enough to protect him from his enemies despite his various struggles with sin. Jesus loved us so much that He died for our sins. Love is a commonality that is echoed throughout Scripture, throughout the various accounts of Jesus, and the interactions of believers with God.
Feeling lost, anxious, and afraid are not unique feelings. All the sins and struggles we face have been experienced by someone before us (1 Corinthians 10:13). Knowing this should encourage us for two reasons. One, we are not unique or alone in having these emotions. Someone somewhere can relate. The second reason is that with other believers having these same experiences, we can see what God did for them. We can read about people in the Bible who struggled as we did and witness how God delivered them, blessed them, and loved them. Why would he not do the same for us?
There is no reason why He would not. God loves us and that will never change (Romans 8:38-39). The next time you feel lost, anxious, afraid, don’t rush to end the suffering. Don’t rush to the world for help. Living in a fallen world, sometimes we have to suffer. Yet, we can grow from that suffering (Romans 8:28). If we rush anywhere, let us rush to embrace God. His love is readily available to us.
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