And said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”
These verses seem counter-intuitive. Yet, what we often find in life is that pain can lead to healing, suffering to joy, brokenness to beauty. Most astounding is that out of death, can come life. Through the death of Christ, eternal life has been accomplished and given to God’s people.
In today’s passages, we find similar cries. Both Job and Habakkuk were acquainted with suffering. The story of Job is well known. He went from being an ancient Bill Gates to a poor, sick nobody with astonishing speed. Habakkuk was one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament. Being a prophet was a tough job. Most of the time you were telling people to repent and that judgment was coming. In 586, shortly after Habakkuk’s prophecy, Jerusalem and the Southern Kingdom fell to Babylon.
Both of these believers express a remarkable faith in God in the midst of suffering. Habakuk says, “Even if everything goes wrong, I will rejoice in the Lord.” For Job, just about everything had gone wrong; He lost his children, his wealth and his health. Yet he never lost his faith. He was able to see all of life in relation to God. He said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Followers of Jesus don’t live by assumptions; we live by faith. What sustains us is not the belief that we will never suffer. Suffering is a part of life. What sustains us is faith in the One who is greater than our suffering.
“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.” How is this attitude possible? It is possible because we know that Jesus is greater than our circumstances. If we have his love and promises, we have everything and have no need to fear. If we are his, then even death becomes a homecoming. This is how God brings beauty out of brokenness. The empty tomb is the greatest testimony of suffering turned to joy.
O Lord, sustain us in our sufferings. Give us a deep and abiding faith in Jesus each and every day.
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.