For six solid years, my husband and I have been on the front lines of a full-on war with the enemy. If I listed everything we’ve gone through in six years, many people would wonder how we survived and lived to tell the story. And if I told you the story we just encountered over the last few weeks, it would take up several pages of heartache and disappointment.
Just recently we went through a series of assaults, one after another. We have seen very little rest or peace within the last several months. We found ourselves in a constant battle that never seems to end and our faith was on incredibly shaky ground. And that’s probably putting it lightly. Because for me…I was saying goodbye to God forever.
Valentine’s Day was my breaking point. I was already teetering on the edge and was praying desperately for God to let up and let me see His goodness. I prayed, “Please God, I need something to hope for. I need to see Your goodness because I’m losing hope and I’m losing faith. I’m so weak and heartbroken.” No sooner had I prayed this prayer when my husband walked in with more bad news—bad news that left us spiritually and financially bankrupt.
That was the night I said goodbye to God. I convinced myself that it would be so much easier if I just didn’t believe in this “God nonsence” anymore, because if I believed in God anymore, and had to listen to how He’s a “God of love” one more time, I’d have to believe that this God of love despises me! And then I had this thought: If I’m supposed to be in a relationship with God, then I must be in an abusive one, where God is my cruel and tyrannical husband who hates being married to me. These were the only things that made sense to me anymore, and I knew it would be easier for me to just not believe, as most atheists have come to do through their own disappointments and heartaches.
When I discussed this with Jared he said, “I’m beginning to feel like the only book in the Bible that makes any sense or could possibly be real is the Book of Job.”
That night I felt the Holy Spirit leave me, because I demanded to be left alone. And this sudden feeling of despair and darkness encircled me. My heart felt so heavy and cold. And while I was a tad scared about the choice I had made, I didn’t care…well, not until I began to envision my life without Jesus.
I began to see what kind of mother I’d be, what kind of wife I’d become, and what kind of human being I would deteriorate into. The outcome was not pretty. I could already feel myself losing interest in our son, dreading having to be a mother. I could see myself drinking and partying again, and possibly committing adultery. And then I saw myself simply not caring for anyone but myself ever again. My heart was crushed. But what hope did I have anymore?
Jesus was my only hope. And while it may not seem like much at the time, the consequences of giving up that hope were far worse than what we’re facing now. So I gave in and confessed my sin and tried to find hope again.
And then today while my husband and I were sitting in the doctor’s office, he said to me, “The Book of Job is real life. Forget all that other stuff. That’s what life is all about. And even Jesus cried out to God, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:34)
And then this light went off in my head: Even Jesus—the Son of God, the Savior of all Creation, our only hope and comfort in this world—at that very moment in time, hanging on the cross and bearing our sins, thought His God had forsaken Him.
He knew the Book of Joshua. I’m sure He knew the scripture, “I will never leave you nor forsake you…” And yet, Jesus, God in the flesh, the very Creator of the universe, felt alone and abandoned by God. And then Jared made a very interesting statement: “He didn’t call God His Father at that moment. He called Him, God. It was rare for Jesus not to call God His Father.”
My husband doesn’t fully know how often he ministers to my spirit, but this was one of those moments when peace swept over me and hope found a place back in my heart.
Jesus felt alone on that cross because He was utterly alone. Even God had turned His back on His Son…for a very short period of time. Jesus knows what it’s like to feel hopelessness, even when He knew full well what the outcome would be. But He had a moment. A moment in time when He felt the deepest loss of all—feeling forsaken by His God and separated from His Father. This moment is a defining moment for us, there on the cross where He hung, emptied, torn apart inside and out. It looked like the battle was over and the enemy had won—at least to those standing by on the sidelines. Where had their hope gone at that moment? Who would they now turn to in their times of need? What could they now look forward to? We know. The Bible tells us they were hiding out, afraid for their lives, unsure of what they would become or where they would go.
The night Jesus knew everything was coming to pass, He was scared. He felt alone. He begged for God to save Him from the upcoming misery He’d have to endure. He felt betrayed. He felt helpless, and even possibly hopeless. The God of Hope…feeling hopeless.
But it’s on the cross when He cries out loudly: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” when we can honestly say Jesus knows our disappointment and pain. It’s that very moment in time where we can find our own hope being restored and renewed, and we know the battle is not lost, but instead we will come out on the other side in absolute victory! But we have to hang on…just as Christ did on the cross that day.
Yesterday we listened to a sermon on love. One of the things the pastor claimed was that if we’ve faced difficult times for a long period of time and we haven’t seen our prayers answered, it’s probably because we aren’t “loving enough.”
Jared and I instantly became heartbroken. We love beyond most other people we know. We live in a racial conflicted neighborhood where most of our neighbors don’t like us because we’re white, but instead of getting angry with them, we instead show them love whenever possible. When people have betrayed us or hurt us and they then found themselves in tough times, it was my husband and I who extended a loving, helpful hand when no one else would.
To tell believers these types of things can bring so much more disappointment than they are already experiencing! Again, Jared brought up Job and I found myself thinking about him and what he went through.
The reason Job was under such immense, intense attack was because he was a righteous man of God. He suffered a great deal of loss and he had no special formula that would get him out of it. In fact, it was his own friends who were trying to convince him that he must have done something wrong in order for God to inflict such horrific pain in his life. But who did God scold in the long run? Was it Job, who was angry and frustrated? Or was it Job’s friends who kept insisting that he “do” something to win God’s favor again?
After the Eternal had spoken these words to Job, He turned and spoke to Eliphaz from Teman. “My anger is burning against you and your two friends because you have not spoken rightly of Me, as My servant Job has” (Job 42:7 the Voice).
Job didn’t sit back and take what was happening to him as punishment for something he did wrong or some rule he couldn’t live up to, despite his friends accusations and advice. Instead, Job kept insisting that he was always in right standing before God and that he didn’t deserve his suffering. While God did put Job in his place, He didn’t deny Job’s quest to find the truth.
We know that God “allowed” those terrible things to happen to Job, but we also know why. God trusted Job enough to handle it. God knew Job could be trusted not to turn his back on Him. And God found him to be honorable.
[Job] was a very good man—his character spotless, his integrity unquestioned. In fact, he so believed in God that he sought to honor Him in all things (Job 1:1).
That’s it. Plain and simple. Job didn’t do something wrong, nor did he not do enough of something good. He was just a godly man of integrity and spotless character.
Job has always been one of the books in the Bible that I least liked, but it’s now becoming the book I need to turn to in terms of redefining my hope and reclaiming who I am in Christ.
God must trust me enough to handle all of this, and I now believe that God finds me to be honorable in His sight (thanks to Jesus!). And I will be like Job, demanding truth and justice for all of our suffering, praying endlessly that God will someday soon restore all that we have lost, too. His Word says He will, and I choose to believe that today.