History is full of Christian saints and martyrs that were not delivered in the manner they might have desired, or perhaps, not as speedily as they would have hoped. Indeed, the world is still a place where God’s people are persecuted, imprisoned, and killed. Christians get sick, they suffer and they die. Most of our trials are full of mysteries; some of which are revealed as we go, while others await some future discovery. Not one of us can offer a full explanation for the twists and turns of our lives; neither the downs nor the ups. If it were not for the fact that our all-wise and all-powerful God has also revealed that He loves us, we would be left only to despair.
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” This wealthy and successful man suffered an unparalleled reversal of fortune; losses at virtually every level imaginable, all of which apparently came upon him suddenly. His suffering, however, seemed to last for a considerable time. Even though his wife counseled him to “Curse God and die,” the Bible tells us that “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” That doesn’t mean that Job didn’t have some questions, confusion and uncertainty concerning the meaning of God’s providences. Why were things happening the way they were? He couldn’t figure out (at the time) what God was up to.
“Look, I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; 9 When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. 10 But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. 11 My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. 12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” —Job 23:8-12
Job understood a fundamental principle, that “man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Commitment to that idea is what sustained Job in his great trial. He knew God loved the righteous and that the story was not yet over. Job had his moments; but he walked by faith and emerged on the other side.
The prophet Jeremiah likewise complained: “Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (Jer. 12:1). Moreover, David, observes the incongruities of the circumstances of the wicked and the righteous. Psalm, 37 addresses “The Heritage of the Righteous and the Calamity of the Wicked.” Verses 23-24 assure us that “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”
How do we know God loves us when we are going through long and difficult trials? Job understood what Peter would write about much later: “When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (see also 1 Peter 1:6-7). Chastening and testing is one sign of His love. But the greatest sign of His love is our rescue from our sins—our salvation. “God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We are all doing much better than we deserve. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). Even in the midst of our trials God has surrounded us with His love as demonstrated in our families and in our church. He gives us daily joys and pleasures. He gives us purpose and hope.
Having the long-view (as Abraham and other saints did), requires walking by faith. Joseph didn’t know how his story ended until he got there. In the pit, as a slave, and in prison God was still with him. God was also with him later in the palace. Every story in the Bible tells us of the trials of God’s people and the love and faithfulness of God toward them. Let us hold fast as well and walk in their path.