“If God could redeem Job from the pain of watching his family die, if he could free David from loneliness and save Peter from failure, what can he do with the hardest things in your life and mine?”
This is the question I posed at the end of the post “3 Kinds of Hard (Part 1)”
I promised you an answer. Ready? 🙂
Here we go…
#1. What can He do with the pain of loving other people?
After all the suffering Job had seen, it is a thrill for the reader to hear that God eventually restored his estate and provided him with more children. However, any person who has lost someone knows that replacement is not the answer. Indeed, 1 Corinthians 13 is correct in saying that “Love never ends.” In those three words lie both the beauty of love, and the horrible pain of it. The people that we have lost, the people that have died, the people that we have watched suffer to the calamities of life–they cannot be replaced, only remembered. So where did Job gather his hope? I believe that the solution was found in an idea that mirrors Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Although there seems to be no reason to endure the pains of love sometimes, God knows what is going on behind the scenes. And even through the set fumbles, the script rewrites, the back-stage catastrophes, and the forgotten lines, He is preparing a masterpiece production that will make it all worth it in the end. The key? He gives us our part to play in the production and tells us to trust Him with the rest.
#2. What can He do with loneliness?
David, one of the main authors of the Psalms, knew that loneliness is like a deep pit and an inescapable darkness. In Psalm 143:3, he writes, “For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.” This is an accurate description of loneliness–the death of hope and the fog of nothingness that is impossible to see through. In truth, loneliness is like being a corpse of the person you once were. Because God created people to love and to be loved, an absence of that leaves us less than human. However, just like replacement is not the remedy for loss, an acceptance of the darkness is not the solution to loneliness. Throughout the Psalms, David speaks of his loneliness and darkness, but he never leaves it at that. He always provides a reason for hope, and that reason is God. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in Psalm 139, and it captures the perfect response to loneliness: “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You.” Reread the last part again. Even in the deepest darkness of being alone…if you look from God’s perspective, there is only light. And that light will prevail.
#3. What can He do with failure?
Most of us would imagine that after Peter’s blatant denial of Christ, he was cut from the apostles’ group. Because of that, it is interesting to see what happens when Peter and Jesus meet again. Instead of asking exactly what happened the night of the betrayal, Christ asks him a simple question, “‘do you love me?'” (John 21) Peter responds with his characteristic enthusiasm. Now if I had been Jesus in this situation, and Peter said “‘you know that I love you'”, I would ask him, “Well man, why’d you betray me then, huh? If you love me so much, why did you walk away?” But in the beauty of Christ’s character, He did the opposite. He simply told Peter, “‘Feed my sheep.'” Instead of responding with vengeance or anger, He gave Peter a second chance. He countered failure with renewed faith. Forgiveness. 1 Corinthians 12:9 further affirms this truth: “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'” God can take our worst failures and turn them into something amazing that He can use for our good and His glory.
Through the stories of Job, David and Peter, I think the most important thing to discover is that God has a greater plan in mind even through the hardest things. It makes me think of the song I heard while coming back from an appointment about a week ago. It is from the animated movie, Prince of Egypt, and for some reason the lyrics really struck me that day. As the song played for the third or fourth time, I asked myself, “how does this idea affect my perception of the hardest things in my life?”
“A silver thread in a tapestry, though its color brightly shine,
Can never see its purpose in the pattern of the grand design.
And the stone that sits on the very top of the mountain’s mighty face
Does it think it is more important than the stones that form the base?
So how can you see what your life is worth
Or where your value lies?
You can never see through the eyes of man,
You must look at your life, look at your life through heaven’s eyes!”
How will you look at your life today…even in light of the hardest things?
In closing, I am praying for you today, wherever you are. See you tomorrow with a new topic! ❤