Stefanie knew God’s standards on sexual purity when she stayed at the office late with her co-worker and let things go too far. Can her marriage survive?
Dan had been a pastor for decades when he got brain cancer. After years of serving God, now he might not live another six months.
Trish’s deacon husband got caught embezzling money from work. Can she survive the humiliation?
Like these case study Christians, we sometimes suffer and can’t imagine how we’ll survive. Job gives us five steps to endure trials…with our faith intact:
1. Self-examination. Job guards so constantly against sin he knows his pain isn’t a result of his own wrongdoing. In the above cases, Stefanie’s suffering is a clear result of her sin. Though the consequences won’t disappear with her confession, repentance is an essential step toward restoration. Dan’s cancer is likely a painful result of living in a fallen world, and Trish is suffering for her husband’s sin, but both must guard against bitterness. What about us? Maybe like Job we can say, “I have kept to his way without turning aside” (Job 23:11), but if God convicts us of wrongdoing, we must repent.
2. Beware bad advice. Job’s friends falsely accuse him. His wife tells him to curse God and die. Job understands the pain of bad counsel. If Stefanie heeds advice to keep quiet about what she’s done, her marriage will only suffer more harm. If Dan’s friends tell him he’s sick because God doesn’t love him, the lies will sink him deeper into despair. If Trish’s friends tell her to leave her husband, she’ll suffer from her sin as well as his. We must heed counsel from mature Christians who will guide us to the One who loves us more than anyone else can.
3. Seek God. Job knows God allows his suffering. He knows God alone can tell him why. So Job seeks God. In the above cases, Stefanie must run to God for cleansing. Only God can keep Dan through his cancer, whether it results in death or healing. Trish needs God’s grace to forgive her husband. We, too, must pursue God in our suffering, knowing only He can carry us through.
4. Complain. God hates murmuring so much He let a generation of Hebrews die in the wilderness after the Exodus. Yet Job complains plenty. The difference is the Hebrews murmur among themselves against God’s gifts, while Job tells God how he feels about his pain. Job takes his grievances to God. Likewise, Stefanie should tell God of her guilt. Dan should tell God how betrayed he feels. Trish should tell God of her humiliation. We, too, should tell God of our rage, hurt, and abandonment. He can handle it.
5. Hope. Job trusts God. He knows God will bring something good from his agony. He says, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Job knows his suffering will lead to his sanctification, though he doesn’t like the process. In her pain, Stefanie can hope for stronger character and deeper love for her husband. Dan can think of the testimony he’ll share if God heals his body, and he can look forward to spending eternity in Heaven. Trish can thank God for increasing her faith. We, too, should view our pain as God’s means of making us more Christ-like. We must hope beyond our suffering for the good God promises to bring out of it.