The Use of Life's Struggles To Reaffirm Faith
by Rev. Edward Franklin Gross, Ph.D.
Presented by Saint Luke Evangelical School Of Biblical Studies
http://ficotw.org/school.html

Thesis: The hardships of life can be used to strengthen our faith in God as exemplified by Job.

Text:

Job was a man of good faith and large wealth. He prospered under God.

Job 1:1-3
1. There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
2. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
3. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

God has always been a part of my life to some extent. I have had a full time job since the age of fifteen and the same job for eleven and a half years, averaging about fifty-five hours a week. Through my labor I was able to purchase homes, cars, clothing and adequate furnishings for my family. I have always believed that I led a good life as a hardworking, responsible man and therefore expected only good things to happen to my family and me. I was wrong!

Then, Jobís worldly possessions were stripped from him.

Job 1:14-17
14. And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
15. And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
16. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
17. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

I am divorced, twice. The first time I married young and foolishly. My House, furniture, dog, and everything that I had worked so very hard for was taken away. Then, not one for giving up, I remarried. Seven years of my life was spent rebuilding my possessions and starting a family, only to once again end in divorce. We spent a year trying to work things out, even eight months of counseling just did not seem to open the right doors to our hearts. My daughter, and half of my possessions were taken away. Confused, hurt, and lost, I could not figure out what I had done in life that was so bad that I should be punished like this. Depression and self doubt about my own personal worth set in... Hard. For the first time in my life I was ready to give up on love, God, and life itself, then an old friend whom I had not spoken to in years came back into my life. She brought many gifts into my life; her two children, her love, her intelligence and her beauty.

Jobís health was taken away.

Job 2:5-7
5. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
6. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
7. So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

My life was improving. I was in love and all the problems in my life seemed small and inconsequential. The cancer was a shock. The woman of my dreams had breast cancer. This was not fair! I finally felt that I had found peace and my life was going in the right direction, now God was going to take this all away again. Anger swelled up in me toward God, and if it were not for her need for support and positive comfort, I probably would have given up completely.

Yet, through all these trying events and times of self-doubt, it was Jobís faith in God that persevered, and it was with Godís love for the faithful that Job was reinstated with all he had and more.

Job 42:10-17
10. And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.
11. Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.
12. So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
13. He had also seven sons and three daughters.
14. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch.
15. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.
16. After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations.
17. So Job died, being old and full of days.

I had no choice but to resolve myself to be strong and positive for her sake. She taught me about God and faith, the things that I turned to in order to make it through these trying times. My talks with God grew more frequent and more personal. He went from a God to pray to when I needed or wanted something to an invisible friend whom I talked to about everything and thanked for all the positive things in my life. This gave me the strength to support the woman who would soon be my wife.

The one thing that I did not find important when we met was her deep love and understanding of God. It seeped into my soul quietly and silently growing from my own experiences into a deeper revelation that God is all around us and even though we may not understand his plan, He is there, always watching over us, guiding us to a better life. The cancer is gone now, and I have four children. My life as a whole is getting in better order. It seems that the more I learned about God, and the closer my relationship to him becomes, the better my life is overall. I know that there will be more trials and hardships in the future, but with my new understanding and application of the lessons learned, I will not just survive, but come out stronger than before.

The book of Job is the most ancient, but it is still to this day one of the most easily applied to daily life. All lives, at one point or another, are touched with pain, grief, or suffering. It is at these times in life when we are most tempted to question our faith and wonder why God would allow this to happen to us. Why me? Almost everyone finds himself or herself asking this question sooner or later, but it is how we answer this question within ourselves that will affect the rest of our lives. Do we curse God? Do we refuse to acknowledge the problem and hide it from others and ourselves? Do we accept our fate and work towards solving the issue, asking God for his guidance and strength?

Job showed us the answer to these questions. His patience and total dedication to God allowed him to persevere through the worst trials imaginable. Keeping his story in mind during our own trials can help us to stay on the right track with our faith and never lose hope that God is with us and in the end we will triumph.

Faith, hope, and perseverance can conquer any problem. Too many people accuse God of causing their problems, or in the least, not preventing them. They fail to realize that it is thru these trials that our faith is tested and our relationship with God made stronger. That is, after all, why they are called trials.

copyright 2000 Rev. Edward Franklin Gross, Ph.D.
Used by permission.