The lesson of suffering

When I was in Ethiopia teaching Wisdom Literature, we spent a lot of time in Job.

I asked the class one day, “What have you learned from Job, or learned from suffering?”

One student answered: “Suffering is an opportunity to upgrade my faith.”

I learn far more teaching in Ethiopia than I can give out.

 

The silence of God

There are times God seems silent. We don’t hear him. We trust he is there. Sometimes all we can do is hope we can trust.

Several years ago at a day of prayer and fasting Pastor Mark Denyes shared these verses from Job about the silence of God:

“But if I go to the east, he is not there;
    if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
    when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (Job 23:8-10)

We search and don’t seem to find him. But we keep trusting. We keep waiting.

Testing is never easy. The results will almost always be worth it.

refiners-fire

Fire and the Testing of the Heart

A crucible is for silver and a furnace for gold,
but the Lord tests the heart. (Prov. 17:3, CEB)

“But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.. (Job 23:8-10, NIV)

There is nothing “fun” about fire. There is nothing “fun” about testing. It’s probably why we don’t talk about too much, or if we do, we dwell on it lightly then move to the “FUN” part.

But testing produces what lies underneath. What lies underneath is gold. God knows it, but we’re too afraid of fire to let him bring out the gold.

No one “likes” fire… but the end result is amazing.

 

I Can’t Find God

There are those times when God just doesn’t seem to be there. It’s really as if the darkness does hide him.

These words from Job are powerful:

Look, I go east; he’s not there,
west, and don’t discover him;
    north in his activity, and I don’t grasp him;
he turns south, and I don’t see.
10 Surely he knows my way;
when he tests me,
I will emerge as gold. (Job 23:8-10, CEB)

God is faithful. He knows your way. He may test you, but fire only refines gold.