Read His Words Before Ours!
Life is like embroidery work.
A piece of embroidery has two sides, two stories stitched simultaneously. The back is often a tangle of knots and strings, giving only a faint suggestion of the front image. Our life on earth is like the back of that piece, while God is creating a magnificent work of art on the other side; a stunning, eternal masterpiece.
Tucked away in the Old Testament lies a remarkable story that mirrors this sort of heavenly embroidery: the story of our brother Job and his staggering loss. His struggles challenge his understanding of God and leave him with more questions than answers.
Before we reach the end of chapter one, we find him stunned and grief-stricken. (Job 1) Job had recently placed the lifeless bodies of all 10 of his children in their graves. In the space of a few hours, he became a dweller of the surreal Land of Loss all grievers know well. In this land, nothing matters but the gaping wound and the ever-present pain.
The dust settles and Job’s questions arise.
“Why was I not stillborn;
Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb? [. . .]
Why is light given to one burdened with grief,
And life to those whose existence is bitter,
Who waits for death, but it does not come [. . .]
I have no rest, for turmoil has come.” (Job 3:11, 20-21, 26)
Wealth can be rebuilt, illness treated. Children cannot be replaced. Yet these priceless treasures were unceremoniously ripped away in a freak accident.
Job had no explanation. He was not privy to the conversations between God and Satan relayed in the text. (Job 1:6-12, Job 2:1-7) His confusion is warranted; His understanding of God and His ways were just body-slammed.
Like Job, our finite minds conclude our all-powerful, compassionate God can and should stop all suffering; yet, He doesn’t. We all have scars to prove it. Any notion suggesting God miraculously delivers His own from painful trials is patently false. (John 16:33)
So, in the quiet back channels of our soul, the unending “why” rises like a mist. Our suffering doesn’t make sense; He doesn’t make sense.
We’re reminded of the back of the embroidery work, where life is mostly a confusion of outlines, knots, and strings. Truthfully, Job never received answers to the questions haunting his sleepless nights, and we may not, either. Still, truth remains; God acts for His holy and eternal purposes. (Isaiah 40:12-14, 21-26)
I have spent ample time in the ash-heap of grief. Our brother Job buried ten children; I buried one. During my sojourn into loss, several stabilizing mindsets emerged, anchoring my soul with solid hope. Solid hope, I found, resides in solid truth—the truth of Scripture. As I began the practice of marinating my soul in Scripture, I came to know God as my Companion and Friend. The more deeply I knew Him, the more I trusted Him, which empowered tenacious devotion, gritty faith, and audacious obedience. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
Frankly, were it not for my solid foundation of truth, I would not have survived Matthew’s long-term illness and death with my faith intact.
Though my anchor held fast, I too, wrestled through puzzling contradictions and unanswered questions. However, through the pain and confusion, this truth rose in an ever-present whisper: life on earth is not our only. Eternity awaits just beyond, through the veil of time and space.
As I await eternity, I find encouragement in Apostle Paul’s words:
“Therefore, we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
This truth gave perspective and purpose for the pain, while infusing a deeply-abiding, grounded hope and true joy for the reality of eternity.
This solid relationship with God empowered me to face life with unanswered questions, much like our brother Job. In the dark night of my soul, He whispered, “I see you; I am with you. I’m doing something deep and beautiful. Trust Me.” His words were mostly about trust and relationship; very little was said about changing circumstances in my favor.
Through the loneliness and desperation rose quiet, peaceful intimacy. He became my treasure and joy. I became fruitful, even in the place of pain. Knowing my Jesus was in control, holding my boys and I in His arms, became enough for me. I could maneuver through the knots and strings, knowing Who was creating a masterpiece on the flip-side.
Though we live on the backside now, when we see Him, He will flip the embroidery piece. We will be stunned at the masterpiece He created from what we only knew as tangled knots and strings. How could we imagine He’s been working all along, refining gold through our painful trials, weaving glistening threads through our darkest days, and crafting delicate, priceless jewels from our deepest sorrows.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!