I have a friend who is approaching forty. She is not married and longs to be a mother. She prays without ceasing for God’s will to be done, and yet as each year passes she grows increasingly heartsick from disappointment. Will she ever be held?
Why is God withholding what she longs for most? What is he trying to teach her? She has withheld nothing from him. Is he really as wise and just as she’s always hoped him to be? Is he really as good as his word?
He has stripped from me my glory;
And has taken the crown from my head.
My hope he has pulled up like a tree.
I have a friend who is almost eighty. She never wed, has no children, and lost both parents in a car wreck when she was in the fourth grade. Over the years, anyone related to her by blood has returned to dust. Her best friend of fifty years; the one she talked to every day for the last thirty years, just breathed her last. My friend feels utterly alone in this world. Who will hold her in their heart now?
Why, God? Why must you take what is most precious to me? You know I love you with everything that is in me. What is it you want me to understand? Are you as wise and just as I’ve counted on you to be? My soul is sorrowful almost to death. Are you as good as your word?
I was at ease, and he broke me apart.
My face is red with weeping,
And on my eyelids is deep darkness.
I have a friend who has everything of this world to be happy, but is relentlessly stalked by anxiety. Why, my God? This is frightening to me. My bones are dust. I have no joy or peace in my salvation. Will I ever know rest? Are you as wise – as just – as my faith says you are? Are you as good as your word?
He has walled up a way so that I cannot pass,
And he has set darkness upon my paths.
My heart faints within me.
I have a friend whose husband hasn’t touched or looked at her in a gentle or loving way for almost a decade. His heart no longer holds her. Why, my God? I have become a reproach. I am forgotten. I am like a woman invisible or dead. I am no longer worth holding.
What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
And what profit do we get if we pray to him?
And there it is. Of what use is our faith in the end? If we are honest (and Job and Ecclesiastes goad us to be honest) we will see that the children of God are not exempt from what befalls everything and everyone under the sun. Those who trust in God don’t get preferred treatment or protected status in the life we’ve been given. This is an unwelcome and difficult truth.
Some will flourish in this life and some will falter – it matters not if they are good or evil. Some will become like broken vessels while others will overflow with sweet wine. But all creation; the righteous and the wicked; the innocent and the corrupt, all will return together to the earth. Nothing will remain. No one will remember their hopes and dreams and burdens and sorrows. This is a hard truth, and the beginning of wisdom.
Where is my hope?
Who will see my hope?
God sees your hope. He sees your faith as small and unassuming as a mustard seed. And soon, very soon, every knee under the sun will bend, and Christ will come for his church. His wisdom and justice will restore all that was wrongly stolen, lost, or broken. He will make beautiful all that was despised or abandoned. He will heal every precious thing that was crushed and torn apart by evil in his world. God will be as just and good as his word.
And so we can say now with Job:
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last he will stand upon the earth!
This life we inhabit on earth – these fleeting days under the sun – has been given by God for the healing and sealing of our souls.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
Yet in my flesh I shall see God.
I shall see for myself,
My own eyes shall behold, and not another.
The life to come; the life we will inhabit with Christ for eternity, is promised for the resurrection and healing of our bodies, the fullness of joy, and the love and communion of God with his people…just as he always intended for it to be.
Peace to you today. For you are held by God, and he is as good as his word.
*Passages from Job 17-20*