If any man suffered an extreme of terrible afflictions and trials, it was Job. First, in a sudden devastating series of disasters, Job lost his wealth and property to enemy raiders. Next, his children were killed when the house in which they were eating and drinking collapsed on them from the force of a great wind. And finally, Job himself was struck “with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (2:7).
Then as if laying on the final straw, his wife said, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (verse 9). And yet there would be still more oppressive suffering at the hands of his friends. These so-called comforters proceeded to torment Job even further through their thoughtless and unkind accusations and advice.
In the course of these conversations with his friends, Job began to reason, question and even attempt to justify himself. He complained and even wished he had never been born, cursing the day of his birth. But finally, driven to the extreme in his suffering, Job cried out after God. Nothing else would do. He didn’t ask for the healing of his body now covered with festering wounds. He didn’t pray that his children would be restored to him from the grave. Nor did he seek in his prayer the recovery of his lost wealth and property. No, his cry would be, “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat!”
That’s the instinct of the true child of God. Suffering and afflicted? Yes. Confused? Yes. But the beleaguered child of God comes to know that the only true refuge in a storm is the haven of God Himself. King David wrote, “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter to me, a strong tower from the enemy… I will trust in the shelter of Your wings” (Psalm 61:2-4).
Friend, do you see how God uses affliction and crosses in our lives? He would have us come to know by experience that He alone is our sufficiency. Only when we see the utter deficiency of every earthly source of happiness are we then driven to seek God alone as the supreme source of all our happiness, joy, communion and comfort. Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Nothing teaches us so much the preciousness of the Creator, as when we learn the emptiness of all else besides”.
How about you? Is God beginning to show you through the circumstances of your life that your fulfillment and joy does not consist in the things of this earthly walk? When tested, do your prayers to God consist only in pleas to have your cross taken away, to be made comfortable? Be careful, false professors when afflicted betray themselves in their grumbling and complaining. They come to resent God for allowing these afflictions in their life. In the end, they become embittered and angry, feeling they deserved better in this life.
But the true child of God comes to see his trials as God’s loving school of discipline and spiritual growth, with a goal of conformity to Jesus Christ. He learns to flee to God for help and shelter, knowing that “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5) and that “no discipline seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (12:11). God’s children are thankful for His weaning of them from the broken cisterns of this world and building desire in them for the one true fountain of living waters, even God Himself.
Christian, are you in the midst of a trial? Know that your true help and comfort comes from God alone. And by His grace may you too not only see His loving design in your troubles, but also His gracious and loving Presence.