When is the last time that you ached so badly that you were certain the pain would take you out for good? Have you ever hurt so deeply that ache became the only thing you could feel anymore?
When you find yourself in the place where you’ve got nothing left.
When it takes all you have to just fake it to make it.
When you’re down and out, and someone kicks you in the gut.
When it seems that all in your world has gone wrong.
When your hopes have been dashed and your joy has long since faded into despair.
I’ve been there. I know what it feels like.
I found myself in the story of Job today. I don’t know about you, but if you’re anything like me, you don’t prefer to frequent the book of Job. It’s a sad, hard story of a godly guy who suffered much. It raises many theological questions about God, His nature, and the purpose of suffering. It’s tough stuff. What we do know from the first chapter of Job is that God allowed this suffering in Job’s life, but we could drive ourselves absolutely mad trying to figure out why.
And don’t we do just that? When pain rolls in like a tidal wave over our lives, don’t we question and wonder why? I have found myself doing exactly that…not necessarily having a crisis of faith, but just about loosing my ever-loving mind trying to make sense of the pain that has marked my own story. Why is this happening? How do I sort through it? What do I do with it?
Rehearsing the details of it.
Trying to translate it into whatever lesson God might be trying to teach me.
Desperately grasping at straws to figure out why it happened, and perhaps even more so, trying to find a way out of it.
We avoid pain at all costs. We are a pain-adverse people, and when it comes, always uninvited, we exhaust ourselves in the fight against it. Don’t we?
But back to Job. He was a righteous man who honored the Lord with his life and lived a very blessed life because of it. He had MUCH to lose, and much he lost. He lost all ten of his children. He lost his servants. He lost his wealth. He lost his resources…in a matter of hours, all of Job’s security vanished.
Or did it?
When Job’s wife came to him with the worst advice in the world…”Just curse God and die!”…Job instead chooses to praise God in his pain. Unbelievable. He doesn’t allow his very real and valid grief to lead him into sin. He grieves, but he worships through his grief. I heard Lisa Harper recently say that “grief itself is not sin; it’s where we allow our grief to take us sometimes that gets us into trouble.” Job grieved, but he grieved well. In the face of all that he had lost, Job still clung to the only security that will remain through loss:
Jesus is all we need.
“Healthy grief does not demand an audience or applause. God never intended us to bring all of ourselves to all of humanity. He intended us to bring all of ourselves to all of Him.” – Lisa Harper
We have got to run to Jesus first in our pain. Not to our BFFs. Not to social media. We need to learn new defaults. Jesus is our Hope. Jesus is our Salvation. Jesus is our Healer. God makes the veil thin when we ache. If we would just look up in our pain, we’d see Jesus so clearly, because Jesus knows the pain we are experiencing. He personally experienced it Himself.
I’m currently typing these words from my cabin up at a Christian youth camp in Arizona where I’m speaking for the next ten days. Over 500 kids plus their leaders will come and go these next two weeks, and my prayer for them is that they will encounter Jesus while they are here and take Jesus with them when they leave. Interestingly enough, the BIG IDEA that I’m teaching these kids today is this:
Jesus is all we need.
Perhaps, this simple truth is just as much for you and I today as it is for these kids. Praise can flow from the places of our pain. Sit on this final thought with me today. Job’s immediate response to his devastating loss was this:
“Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship.” Job 1:20 NLT
Choose praise today, my friend. From a thorny stem, roses bloom. Praise from your pain.