Ever read the book of Job?
To sum it up, life is going really well for Job. He’s got lots of kids, land, sheep, camels, etc. For the time in which he lived, Job was more or less Bill Gates. You couldn’t miss the abundance of God’s blessing on his life. Job was also was a God-fearing man, so he knew where his blessings came from.
If you fast forward a bit to a conversation between God and Satan about our man Job, things begin to change. (Not sure I ever want to be the topic of such conversations…)
In summary, God brings up Job proudly and points out what a faithful follower he is. Then Satan points out that it’s not like Job has had any reason to NOT be faithful, everything going so well for the guy and all. Satan even bets that if God stopped this abundance of blessing, Job would likely be singing a different tune altogether…and not one of praise but of curse.
God then permits Satan to test Job’s faithfulness by allowing him to curse all Job has except his very life.
And it begins. Job’s life falls apart piece by piece. All his hard work, dreams, and health begin to be shred a part. Job’s support starts to dwindle away. His friends and even his own wife began to question WHY Job was staying faithful through such hardship. Despite it all, Job does NOT curse God and deny his faith.
I want to highlight my absolute favorite verse in the book of Job. It’s straight from his lips right when everything is starting to fall a part:
“Then Job arose, and rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell upon the ground, and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”(emphasis added) Job 1:20-21
that’s something we don’t hear much of in our comfort, perfection, and blessing obsessed society. Just log in to Facebook once and you will see that 99.9% of the posts (if relating to God in any way, shape, or form) will be praises of God in times of blessing. Now, there is nothing wrong with praising God when times are going swimmingly. We should!!! But, it’s all too easy to ONLY praise God when things are going well. It’s really hard to privately or publicly praise the Lord in times of suffering and hardship.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, of course, in relation to our battle with infertility. I cannot claim that the pain in my life looks exactly like Job’s because that would be a gross overstatement and dramatization. However, infertility is the worst suffering I’ve ever experienced and I find myself relating to many of Job’s questions to God.
With infertility, I feel like so much potential for good has been stripped from our life. That many hopes and dreams we had have been shattered, since much of them involved children. Unlike Job I can’t say “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away…” because the Lord has simply not given any children to be taken away. It’s tempting to feel like the Lord has simply withheld. Or to think that “better” people receive the blessing of children from the Lord but not us because we must be undeserving or bad.
Another line from Job sticks out and brings me closer to the entire point of this post:
“Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Job 2:10
Job, who had everything and then watched it all be taken away, simply states that we should receive whatever the Lord gives to us…and to praise him despite the circumstances we face. That’s incredilby hard to do, especially in our culture today that is hyper-focused on positive, instagramable, pintrest-worthy lives.
The way in which it’s become so EASY to publicly praise God when things are going well sets us all up for something dangerous.
A subtle lie.
The lie that God is only good in times of blessing. That God is only worth praising when things are hunky-dory.
And that is so untrue. God is always good. No matter what our circumstances look like. And our praise? It’s even more powerful when we’re NOT in a season of blessing. When we’re in a season of *$#@ and we can still shout “GOD IS GOOD!” That’s when that statement will hold the most power because it’s a tested statement.
Who wouldn’t shout God’s praises when everything is sailing along nicely and everything is going according to their plans? It’s those times of hardship when Christians need to step up and proclaim God’s faithfullness and goodness. That will speak volumes. I actually think Christians, specifically Catholics with a deep history of redemptive theology , need to show people how to suffer with hope. They need to know how to allow God’s goodness and mercy to show up in rough and painful times. They need to be taught how to cling to God when it feels like God has turned on them.
I want to praise God in the midst of infertility but it’s hard because of all the anger, fear, and rage I feel inside… He knows my desires even if it’s not always shown in my actions but I have a deep need to proclaim his goodness – for my own sake and for the sake of anyone else reading this who will inevitably run into suffering now or in their future.
I need to testify that GOD IS STILL GOOD even in a life filled with struggle, pain, and un-fulfilled desires. I’ve seen examples of others testify to this when a family endures a tragic illness with a child or an untimely death and they still choose to praise God in the storm. Those proclamations have encouraged me. They’ve given me hope and gratitude that we have a God who can redeem anything, no matter how dark and scary it may be….even if we don’t see that redemption yet.
They’ve inspired me to cling to hope…and I want…I need to do the same.
I don’t want to adopt a kiddo or have a miraculous pregnancy someday (hopefully sooner than later, Lord!) and only THEN praise God. It will be easy to praise God then. You will have to strap me down to keep me from praising God wherever I go. His blessing and goodness will be palpable and clearly seen.
That’s why right here, right now, in the midst of a season of *$#@, I testify that GOD IS STILL GOOD! He is now and will be forever, no matter WHAT happens with our family. God will take care of us and YOU even if we don’t know how it will look.
“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth.” Psalm 34:2