Life Seems Unlivable Because of Difficulty
It’s common, when things go wrong in our lives, to look for a reason why. Quite often we will discover that there is a legitimate cause. But sometimes the difficulties of life cannot be explained. For example, when I was 8 years old, my younger brother was diagnosed with Leukemia. Five years later he died. I was just 13 when Bobby died and not a Christian so I blamed God. I just couldn’t understand why a loving God would allow my brother to die at the age of 11. It just didn’t seem fair. There was no explanation.
So what happens in our lives when we’re confronted with difficulty that has no apparent cause? Let’s look at the life of Job and see if we can gather some insight into what to expect and how to endure those times of unexplained difficulty and win!
In the life of Job, the severity of the difficulties he was experiencing and the unanswered question as to why they were happening caused him to plunge into a state of hopelessness (Job 7:6-7). He had lost everything except his physical life. As a result, he began to question God (Job 7:20).
This type of response in times of difficulty is very common. The assumption is: if God controls everything then why does He allow bad things to happen? Why doesn’t He just prevent it? The key to understanding the answer is found in one verse of scripture, 1 Corinthians 10:31. Each morning as my two youngest children and I get into our car to go to school we say this verse together. We do it as a reminder that everything about our lives is to accomplish one main goal, to glorify God! In order for this to happen, sometimes we must go through unexplainable difficulties.
This was the case in John 11:4 when Jesus reminded his friends concerning the impending death of Lazarus that the sickness was for the glory of God. That’s why Jesus waited two days after he heard Lazarus was sick before he went to where Lazarus was (John 11:6). He actually intended for Lazarus to die. This gave Jesus the opportunity to raise him from the dead and give glory to God! It’s obvious the people didn’t understand why Jesus allowed Lazarus to die. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, complained to Jesus that if he had arrived earlier, then Lazarus wouldn’t have died (John 11:21). However, she didn’t understand God’s purpose. Sometimes we find ourselves in the same situation as Martha. We know what God is capable of doing but don’t understand why He doesn’t do it! This is when we simply trust God!
To “glorify God” simply carries the idea of giving the right opinion of God to others. There are many ways we do this but one way is through our response to difficulty. Job had an honest and proper response to his unexplained difficulties. Remember, all of this is happening to Job as part of Satan’s effort to cause Job to curse God and turn from Him (Job 1:8-12; 2:3-7). The question for all of us, as it was for Job, will Satan succeed? Let’s look at how Job responded.
Here are the characteristics of Job’s response:
1. He showed grief & deep sorrow – Job 1:20 – the tearing of the clothes and shaving of the head were common practices in showing deep grief. It’s actually good, right and necessary for us to grieve in times of difficulty and sorrow. This is a proper response.
2. He worshiped God – Job 1:20 – to worship simply means to give God the honor and worth due Him. It’s also important to notice that when tragedy hit Job’s life, he focused on God and not on the tragedy.
3. He acknowledged that all he had was from God – Job 1:21 – quite often we feel robbed of material or physical possessions when they’re taken away as if we’re the ones who earned them. This means we’re focusing on ourselves as the resource for all we have and not God. This is exactly what Satan wants.
4. He did not blame God – Job 1:22, 2:10 – The natural instinct in these situations is to blame God. Since God is in control, why did He allow this to happen? Just as in the case of Lazarus, we don’t know God’s ultimate purpose but we do know one thing, His purpose is always for our good (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11). Satan wanted God to be blamed, just as he does today. We must trust God and not fall into Satan’s trap!
5. He did not lose his integrity – Job 2:3, 9-10 – The word “integrity” literally means “complete.” It carries with it the idea that one is honest, trustworthy, and mature & does what is right. Job was described as”… blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1). In the middle of difficulty it is easy to “lose it.” This means our integrity as well as our temper and composure! It is during these times of difficulty when our character is needed most in order to stay focused and not give up.
6. He wanted relief and wished he had never been born – Job 3:1-3, 16, 20-26, 10:19-20 – This feeling of despair is common. Job was just being honest. Remember, he was a man of integrity which included honesty. However, the one thing I notice about Job is he would rather die than blame God. After all, he knew God and to die meant relief from the pain of this life and eternity in the presence of God. This was not a “cop out” but rather a course of relief. However, it wasn’t God’s plan. God still had blessing in store for Job. Paul felt the same way according to Philippians 1:20-24. He told the people of Philippi he would rather to go to heaven and be with Christ, which was far better, than to stay on this earth. However, he still had a ministry to fulfill and so he would gladly wait until his time came. Sometimes this life seems to deal us more than we think we can bear and in those times, as a believer, Heaven looks really good. However, we still have a job to do for God and when our purpose has been completed then we can go home and enjoy our eternal rest (2 Timothy 4:5-8). Let’s hang in there and finish the job!
7. He became discouraged, defended his integrity and asked God for an answer – Job 31:35-40 – The assumption of Job, largely due to the incorrect advice of his friends (we will look at those friends tomorrow), was that he had done something wrong and the tragedies in his life were punishment for his actions. We all have a tendency to assume that the bad things in our lives are punishment for something we have done. If we were punished for all the wrong we did, none of us would survive. It’s because of God’s love that we’re still alive (Lamentations 3:21-26, 32-33). It’s God’s love for us that gives us hope in difficulty (Lamentations 3:21).
When difficulty enters our lives, remember God first. Remind yourself of Job’s honest response and ask God to help you respond accordingly. Go to Lamentations 3:21-33 and focus on God’s love for you and not your difficulty. God is in control and He does have a plan. His plan is for our good!
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at Job’s well meaning but incorrect friends! We all have them. What did they do and how did Job respond?
Have a great week. See you tomorrow.