“I will test you
with the measuring line of justice
and the plumb line of righteousness.
Since your refuge is made of lies,
a hailstorm will knock it down.
Since it is made of deception,
a flood will sweep it away.”
The ways in which our Father tests us certainly can seem clandestine to closed eyes. Most of us familiar with our own trials and tragedies would agree that these excruciating circumstances are spiritual tests. I know I’ve had my measure of the mire. I have lost three children — one to an abortion — and I have also lost three precious people to suicide in three years, and several more as well.
There are times I can scarcely comprehend the magnitude of what I have lost. Some days, it is a hourly struggle to remind myself of the goodness of God in the midst of my oceanic anguish. I pray constantly for the blessing of relief — even through the maddening rage of my grief — and I have a handful of blog subscriptions (including this one) that help me stay focused. Many times, the words I read provide the precise encouragement I need.
I have devoured The Book of Job many times, and God’s speech always gets me at the end. But, recently, I realized that Job’s three friends not only failed Job, they also failed in the eyes of God, who tells Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7). While the focus of the book is obviously on Job, that verse made me realize something very significant.
When so many bad things happen to just one person, is God testing just one person? Is The Almighty so short-sighted? Wasn’t He testing Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite as well?
Is not the same true for us today? When we see our brothers and sisters enduring their own fires, isn’t God testing us through them? Do we understand the magnitude of our Father’s love so very well as to serve Him so gratefully by serving others? The purpose of loss is not suffering, but to learn compassion for those who are suffering. In that sense:
Injustice is the measuring line of justice,
and suffering is the plumb line of righteousness.
Such evidence demands a verdict. For without injustice, we have no need to demand justice. And without suffering, we have no means to express our faith in gratitude through service. Through my many trials, the times I have experienced the greatest joy has not been when God has taken away my pain — but when I have ministered to others in pain.
Granted, serving others does not remove my anguish or my struggles, but it has been through my suffering that I have come to understand the suffering of others with profound compassion.
And that brings me a wonderfully excruciating joy.
“Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.”