“Look, I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; when He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.”
I am sure each of us has felt this way at one time or another. We might be going through a particularly difficult season of life, and it seems God is hiding in the shadows. We may look in all the obvious places and not seem to be able to find His purposes in what we are facing. I think it is valuable to notice that righteous Job, not only experienced this same dilemma, but gives us the steps he took along the way. There are four important steps he took when it seemed God was hiding.
Job 23:10 “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”
First, Job realized part of what he was experiencing was designed to test him. Tests, or trials, as they are often called, are designed by God with a purpose. While it is not always easy to uncover what God is desiring to show us, it is important to recognize what we are going through is not random; God has a plan. Trials might be defined as difficulties we are facing over which we have no control. When the economy crashes, our place of employment goes bankrupt, a storm knocks a tree onto our roof, or any number of other things; these events are beyond our control. Trials are different than consequences. If we disobey God and suffer something as a result, that is not a trial, and the proper response is to turn back to God and walk with Him. If we are, in fact, in the midst of a trial, we must remember God has a purpose in it.
Job 23:11 “My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.”
Second, Job determined, in the midst of his trial, he would not turn from the Lord. In the Parable of the Soils, Jesus explained that many turn from Him because of the difficulties of life (Matthew 13:5-7). Like the sun scorching a small plant, the difficulties of life become an excuse for many to turn from the Lord. Too often, the first thing we do when times get tough is to blame God. We question His love and His right to allow us to go through anything difficult. The seeds of this way of thinking will often sprout into disobedience. Job determined, in his difficulty, he would not turn from the Lord.
Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”
Third, and perhaps most important of all, Job realized the only way to endure was by clinging to the precious promises found in the pages of God’s Word. It is all too common, in the midst of difficulty, to neglect the promises that have been designed to keep us going. In the midst of difficulty, we need to cling to the promises of God and see Him carry us through. Whatever the trial might be, we should go to the promises as often as we go to the fridge.
Job 23:13 “But He is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does.”
Finally, Job understood the ways of God were much bigger than he could ever understand. This should not be an excuse to neglect getting to know Him through His Word, but should serve as a guide in times of trouble. Since we are finite, and cannot see around the corner, we often fail to realize that much of what we face has been designed with the long term in mind. God is in the business of ministering to us, and reaching the next generation for the kingdom. I think we spend too much time blaming God for the difficulties we are facing, instead of looking to Him for comfort and direction.