I met with my women's small group on Monday night, and we're reading the book The Bible Jesus Read, by Philip Yancey. If you're looking for a small group study, this one is already becoming a favorite of mine. We just finished a study on the book of Job, and it blew my mind.
When you think of Job, you probably think of his suffering; God's "testing" of Job's faith. What Yancey enlightened me to, is the fact that we are allowed to feel pain, to be upset, to be in agony, to feel despair. Just because we know that God is in control, doesn't always make it better, does it? He gives evidence of this by pointing to the fact that Job essentially "let God have it" (see Job 7:17-19, 10:20-21, 14:18-22, 16:7-9) Yancey observes that "Job did not take his pain meekly; he cried out in protest to God."
We don't have to "fake it" and plaster a smile to our face, like we Christians so often do (or are even told to do). It's alright to be hurt, angry, confused, frustrated...as long as it's HONEST. Yes, bad things happen, and yes, we are given license to feel the weight of our frustration. What really matters to God, is our FAITH; what choice we will make. Will we choose to keep our faith in the Lord? Or will we curse him?
Yancey says, "Job presents the astounding truth that our choices of faith matter not just to us and our own destiny but, amazingly, to God himself....How we respond matters. By hanging onto the thinnest thread of faith, Job won a crucial victory in God's grand plan to redeem the earth. In his grace, God has given ordinary men and women the dignity of participating in the redemption of the cosmos."
Job kept the faith (but let God have it in the process!), and God rewarded him double for his faithfulness.
A final thought from Yancey: "When a Job-like circumstance happens to you, I guarantee that someone has been there before you. And that's the old man Job. Because he was honest, because he was so eloquent, he's like a pioneer. He has gone ahead of us. So if you wonder, Should I really feel that? Should I really say that to God? you can relax and say, "Well, yeah, that's okay because Job already did."
I hope in some way this resonates with you, like it did with me.