If you scroll through the Facebook feed or begin discussions with co-workers, you’ll soon find out that a lot of people are under the impression that life is terrible. Let’s face it–the economy is going downhill, war is everywhere, they’re taking God and guns away, kids are bullying and shooting their classmates, and hip-hop just isn’t the same.
But when it comes down to it, it’s usually not that bad. We’re just feeling kinda funky at the time, and the opportunity to vent presents itself.
However, sometimes it really is that bad. Life sucks sometimes. There are six billion people with the same flesh composition living on this planet, all equally capable of malice, selfishness, and straight up meanness. And sometimes you get the short end of it.
Job (Joh-buh, not Jaw-beh. That’s from Star Wars.) has not been doing well lately at all, either. If Job had a Facebook, it might be full of self-loathing too, but the subsequent comments would likely contain harsh criticism about giving it up already and recognizing how terrible of a person he is. In other words, Job’s already suffering, and his buddies are not helping at all. And he has plenty of license to grieve (check chapters 1 and 2 for the tale of Job’s really, really bad day).
If you’re feeling me today, keep reading.
Recognizing surrounding negativity
When life sucks, people have a terrible tendency to attempt to fix the problem rather than encourage and lift up. Without regard to Job’s emotional state, his friends repeatedly slander the man in the midst of his pain. Although they believe their motive is pure, the nature of their arguments only produce further anguish.
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s best to remove yourself from the people that continue to bombard you with accusations and justifications for your suffering. Especially if you have a firm foundation in the Lord, who, through the Holy Spirit, shall comfort and lift up His people in time, surrounding yourself with critical and destructive people only exasperates the problem. Besides, you’ll never get a chance to deal with the situation yourself.
Instead, find wise counsel who will love and comfort, and tactfully admonish instead of blatantly ignoring your emotional state.
Specifically identifying plight
It’s not pretty, but sometimes you have to look at what’s going on and address things one at a time. Identifying your situation is a form of accepting your reality, opening the opportunity for God to do something about it instead of pretending it doesn’t exist or holding onto it with all your might.
Job has a sizable list of complaints against God, who unquestionably allowed much of the situation to occur. He examines two particular fears that all humans have.
– Deterioration of potential success
What if your life were worthless, and no hope for the future existed? Indeed, this is untrue, for God created us for His particular purpose (Eph. 2:8-10), but sometimes it feels hopeless, doesn’t it?
Job senses that his life is headed nowhere, and it’s God’s fault. His paths are darkened, his hope is uprooted, and his enemies (figuratively) surround him. These fears, from the perspective of the individual wearing the worn out shoes and bearing the scars, are quite normal. If you believe that your lack of momentum is something unique, there are many that feel just like you.
– Removal of company
No one likes being lonely. I’m not talking about being alone — I personally love me some me-by-myself time — but rather that sense of isolation and the possibility that no one actually cares. As stoic and full of resolve as you might be, this is unpleasant stuff for anyone.
Not only has Job lost his relatives and comrades, but his closest friends and wife have spurned him. You can make a case that this is a type of Jesus, minus the wife part — Job is very much by himself.
Now, a lot of times it feels like this, but it’s hardly true. If it is, in the rare case, you might need to consider how you interact with people around you and check your motives, because you’re probably being unlikable right now (pity parties or constantly criticizing people typically aren’t flattering attributes). But at large, even when you’re being a buttface, someone cares. However, it is still healthy to address this fear so you can position yourself to take inventory.
Knowing God stands firm
Now that your fears are on the stand, what do you do? Most guys grab a weapon to smash them, and most women begin explaining the problem away. But what power do you actually have over your greatest fears?
I recently had a dream that nukes were being sent to the U.S., inevitably killing all of the people in the area. I have a lot of dreams like this — all horribly disturbing, and all keeping me awake for hours, prompting me to ask the Lord to renew my peace. Sometimes it’s a meteor, and sometimes it’s a group of scary guys bustin’ caps in my normally serene suburban neighborhood. But it’s alwyas something I cannot control, and that is always scary.
It becomes a refreshing reminder, in this context, that it is the Lord who reigns over all of the earth, and not humanity. Not even Obama, believe it or not. There are plenty of books out there, some more outlandish than others, that suggest self-empowerment — even in Christians circles — as if we actually have supernatural capabilities, and they all seem to ignore the principle of the Lord’s sovereignty and instead recommend relying on this flesh suit that lasts about 80 years. Surely we are awesome, formed in the Lord’s image, capable of great endeavors, but supremely it is the Lord who stands until the end, and not man.
Job has the right idea. Who is truly in charge? It is the Lord, and it is He who dictates life and death, as demonstrated through His Son Jesus Christ. May this encourage you today.