“I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him.9 I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed.
“But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.”
Job 23:10-11, NLT
Job is not sure where God is exactly.
He can’t really provide us any insight or understanding. But Job knows one thing very well; the outcome will be wonderfully ‘golden’ (v. 10).
Job explains his confidence, “He knows where I am going.” That sweet understanding gives him an awareness and a sensitivity toward the presence of God. “He knows where I am going.” He, the Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of everything, looks to me, Bryan, the puny and small–the littlest pimple on the ankle of the smallest flea. Yet, He knows everything about me.
Verse 10 becomes my trumpet blast.
Testing me is His full intention. He intends to make me pure and true. And as I think of this, I first should understand that it is ‘He’ that is making me. It’s the Father’s work; it is certainly not by my silly little efforts.
His intention is to put us in His crucible. It’s there that He heats us until we are melted and gleaming–shiny and pure. Just understanding this process, brings us into a huge, new dimension. We understand now why we have this dynamic we call discipleship.
Verse 11 now speaks to us about this sweaty work of growing up. There is an “Under Construction” sign that hangs over us, we are being worked on. And Job’s faith, thrown into the crucible, becomes transformed into a solid walk. Is this plausible for us today? Should we evaluate our walks from His perspective?
Job claims this understanding. “For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.” Some might suggest religious pride. But also, could it be that he has been transformed by the crucible? Could it be that a man was being changed and altered by a heated furnace?
The intensity of the Holy Spirit, and His sovereign use of our various trials, delight in this process we call sanctification. Make an effort to walk in that direction today.
“The same Jesus who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation.”
A few weeks ago in response to a poetics prompt to write about a first time for something, I thought of something that I have only done once, and am thankful I’ve never had happen again. But there are people who have had this happen so many times they maybe can’t even remember the first time.
My prayers are with them, my hope that they recognize the lie that suicide is the answer to pain and suffering and that our loved ones would be better off if we were dead.
Not Better Off Dead
Clearly I recall the first time the thought entered my mind They’d be better off if I was dead
I immediately knew it was wrong but still a method to my madness began to form in the recesses of my deeply troubled mind
I could picture the bottle of pills designed to make me better but could just as easily be my demise
Then they’d be free, I’d be free
The Psalmist wrote The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them That first time His angel was encamped around me
He delivered me from that first thought made me know it was wrong ensured it was the last time that thought ever entered my mind
Now we are free and together because the Lord let me know I was not better off dead
If you have never cried, you can stop reading right now. But if you have shed tears for yourself or for others, or if like me you have shed some without even knowing why or where they came from, take heart. God knows the tears you have shed. Psalm 56:8 says so. Here are several translations of that wonderful verse:
Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record? (NIV)
You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle Are they not in Your book? (NASB)
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (NLT)
Write down my poem of sadness. List my tears on your scroll. Aren’t you making a record of them? (NIRV)
I love the image of God keeping all my tears in a bottle. I can envision shelves filled with bottles in Heaven, each with a name on it, and an accompanying scroll documenting every tear and lament. Or maybe it is just one huge bottle with all of our tears mingled together.
Today tears are being shed in dark rooms where children are being held as sex slaves, in Africa as people remain homeless and without food and water, in the United States as many remain jobless, in hospitals and on the streets where the mentally ill are forgotten, in homes around the world where people are spiritually lost and have no hope.
We live in a fallen world.
Tragedies happen and humans are not always kind to one another. And so tears are shed. It is hard to fathom God collecting every single one, but He does. He notices and He records each tear and each lament.
The more I think about it, I like the idea that God has mingled all our tears together. The Psalm does refer to God’s “bottle” in the singular. And if He has collected every tear in that bottle, then mingled with our own are the tears of Jesus. In John 11, the apostle records this event: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35.
In this passage, Jesus weeps when He learns of the death of Lazarus.
When they see Him weeping, the people say “See how he loved him!” John 11:36. But I don’t think Jesus was weeping because Lazarus was dead – He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Rather, I think He wept because of the compassion He felt for humanity as we weep over our own tragedies and losses. It is us that He loved so much that it brought Him to tears.
So if you weep today, remember that God is collecting your tears in His bottle, and mixing them with the tears of our dear Savior. Not only that, but God will deliver you from the final trial that lead to tears by redeeming your soul.
For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.