Drink even deeper…
The most beautiful occurrence in history was wrapped in tragedy. The cross which once represented shame and death is now a symbol of life and beauty. Just the same, all our suffering can be given in trade for beauty.
Some say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. God-our beholder, longs to give us beauty for ashes. Our biggest obstacle would be our inability to believe in the miracle of such an exchange. This is where faith makes an entrance. Treasure for tragedy is only an oxymoron for those who can’t believe. But for those who can believe without seeing, it is a welcomed reality. Of all the hows given in these blogs on finding treasure in tragedy, this quite possibly is the most important.
I used to think pain was my portion in life. Frankly after my two-year old daughter died, I was terrified of pain. I lived with the fear that I did not want my future to be as painful as my past. However because of this fear, it was difficult to engage in the present. Let me give you some more insight into the year Haylie died. Three months before she died, my older brother also suddenly died. He was twenty-nine, my childhood hero. Less than a year before his death, my marriage took a huge hit and was very unstable. The only way to describe the pain of that year is to say; it felt as if the music stopped and life was blank. Yet the world continued. And somehow I was expected to continue as well. I was 24 years old and the stubborn stains of pain and tragedy were attempting to embed themselves in my very person. The enemy of my soul wanted suffering to define me. Thankfully, the One who loves me wanted it to refine me.
It is important to examine our attitudes toward tragedy. The story of Job in the Bible was one of those books that I wanted to ignore. Mainly I neglected it because I was afraid of its content. The book of Job tells about one man’s outrageous suffering. Suffering was what I lived to avoid, so why would I want to read and learn about? I was able to avoid the story until about five years ago, when my world completely fell apart. The catastrophe was nothing like the year Haylie died, yet it was devastating. I believe it to be so because of my attitude towards suffering. I had the attitude that I had already suffered enough for my whole life time. I did not have the understanding that suffering is not a tally keeping kind of situation. Neither did I realize that suffering is part of life. God used Job’s story to shed new light on suffering as well as change my perspective and attitude, teaching me to embrace it.
Job 1:1, declares that Job was “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” This tells us Job had faith. Job was the kind of person who trusted God, therefore he fortified his life and belief system. Job had seven sons and three daughters. He had good health and plenty of wealth, he was well-known and admired. The tragedy that tumbled his life was this: all his children died, all his possessions were destroyed as was his health and reputation. Sounds like a great story huh? Actually it is, because when the weight of tragedy rested on him, he was unwavering in his belief in God. He said of suffering in Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” In verse 22 it says, “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” In Job 2:9-10, “his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”
The book of Job is a great place to learn of God’s sovereignty and of our human frailty. Job not only held fast to his faith during suffering, but He found God in a way that only suffering can bring. The art of embracing suffering produces the treasure of genuine faith. Following are but a few treasures from the book of Job.
When God speaks to me or when I hear a good sermon, I always ask God; how do I apply this to my life? So likewise I want to give you hows on applying these treasures to your life.
Treasures we can discover from Job:
1. Job fortified his life: Satan wanted to steal Job’s faith, that was not attainable because Job trusted God before tragedy struck. The key here is to be in a close relationship with God and be grounded in His Word, so when life serves up tidal waves we will not drown. Go under a bit; probably, swallow some water; yes, but when we are fortified in our faith, we quickly find God as the life-preserver. We see God’s love as a sea without a shore, never-ending and always available.
How to fortify: Surrender and pray. Read the Bible–believe it and do what it says. Get and maintain an intimate relationship with God.
2. Job did not blame God: His attitude about suffering and God were in balance.
How to not blame God: Embrace suffering as part of life. Accept the fact that God is good, He cares for you and will never leave you. Believe He is trustworthy and faithful, regardless of the circumstances.
3. Job accepted good and bad from God: He trusted God to do His best for him, even in suffering.
How to trust God: Give up grudges and forgive. Surrender your will. Lean into God and see what happens.
4. Before suffering Job thought he knew almost everything; after suffering he realized he really didn’t know anything: The realization that Job came to during his suffering, was that he was prideful and God is sovereign. Read Job 38-42.
How to deal with pride: Face the truth–God knows everything and we don’t. God allows suffering and we are not above it, come to grips with this fact and allow God to accomplish something good in you through tragedy.
5. Before suffering Job knew about God; after suffering he knew God. This was the biggest reality that hit me after my huge crushing five years ago. I realized I knew a lot about God, but I had yet to actually know God the way He desired me to know Him.
How to know God: All the treasures above coupled with the Holy Spirit, will lead us to the point of stepping into an intimate relationship with God where we actually hear His voice, do His will and personally know Him. It really is all about surrender. Once we hand our life over to Him and let Him have His way, He meets us and draws us closer to Him. Here He heals and delivers us. In the place of true surrender we find rest, peace and safety.
6. Before suffering Job was upright, after suffering he was holy: Tragedy refined Job and made him holy. Basically the heat of the fire he was in, melted away his self-sufficiency. Setting him beyond normal, away from pride, causing him to see his great need for more of God.
How to be Holy: Holy–defined as set apart. The applied cross and blood of Jesus makes us holy. Another way holiness comes is by refining, because refining removes impurities. To be holy, we must allow God to be God in our life, allowing Him to set us apart for His good works. Let suffering refine us, making us more like Him, causing us to see our need for more of God.
The suffering I found in tragedy has strengthened me, mainly because it has caused me to draw all of my strength from God. It has made me realize my weakness; therefore my great need for Him. I no longer live in fear, but in Faith. Faith in Someone higher than I. Also I now know God, not just about Him.
A treasure that I behold, is the importance of submitting my will to God’s will. God’s will is all I want. For someone like me with such a strong, stubborn will, this is indeed a good thing! I have peace where as before, peace was illusive. Living controlled by my will was exhausting, control and manipulation always are. I am more than ecstatic to let God have all control.
It’s my prayer that these blogs on Treasure in Tragedy have helped you at the very least to organize your heart and thoughts in regards to suffering. And at the most I hope you can trust God with all your cares.
The book I’ve written contains details on all the above, my hope is that it will assist the church to find more of God.
Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”