When life falls apart, the first thing many people think is that God is mad at them. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. You may be a mature believer who’s walked a long time with God and no longer react this way, but the majority of us have experienced such thoughts.
Job was the exception to this rule. He didn’t believed he had done anything wrong to stir God’s wrath. His friends counseled that he must have sinned in order for all his suffering.
But there was more to Job’s story than meets the eye (or heart.) Job ranked in God’s book as one of His favorites. God even picked him out of all the other people on the planet to experience Satan’s harm. He did not cause Job’s pain. Yes, God allowed it, but His hand didn’t orchestrate it.
Job experienced hardship, grief, and suffering because God knew him. God knew Job’s faith, and in the end Job knew God. He experienced a face to face encounter with the Almighty.
Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;Job 42:1-6
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
El-Shadday/ God Almighty
Just like Job, another Old Testament character blamed God for her pain. She even changed her name from pleasant and joyful (Naomi) to bitter (Mara). As she trudged back into Bethlehem from the land of Moab, her friends didn’t recognize her.
“What happened?!” they asked.
“The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me,” wailed Naomi.
The name she and Job used for God was Shadday. This name appears 48 times in the Bible, and out of those forty-eight, the author of Job penned it 31 times! The name means powerful and strong. Its root word means destroyer. (Yikes!) In her grief, Naomi placed God as destroyer of her life. Even though she felt that way, it doesn’t mean He was.
In the same way God used this name to identify Himself to Abram. El-Shadday would soon make him a father of a baby boy named Isaac despite Abram and Sarai’s age. Nothing is too hard for the powerful, life-giving El-Shadday. (El means God.)
The Key to Hope in Hard Times- Trusting God
Likewise, nothing is too hard for El-Shadday in our life. There’s only one key to His working–Trust. Job never lost his faith in the one true God, and Naomi chose to return to the land of her faith signifying her return to her God. Despite their moments of sadness, anger, and bitterness, God never stopped working in their lives.
The key to hope in hard times is not trusting that God will answer our petitions as we’ve laid them out, or that we will never face hardships if we just have enough faith. No, the key is trusting His goodness and love for us in the hard times.
If you are going through a difficult time now, I hope you’ll grab this Bible reading plan below (just click on the links for the printable.) This week as we continue our study of the Book of Ruth, we’ll discover God’s goodness even in our sufferring.
Bite of Bread Bible Reading Plan on Trust
If you’ve purchased the book, The Book of Ruth: A 31-Day Journey to Hope and Promise, we are working through pages 67-74. If you don’t have the book, these are the scriptures we’re studying and some of the prompts. A printable is available.
Monday: Ruth 1:19
So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
Prompt: This is such a painful scene to me. Naomi, once bright and cheerful, blessed beyond measure, probably a favorite in the community, has returned devastated. Everyone was talking about her. Have you ever found yourself in a position like this? What happened? What can we learn from this as a spectator or the one being judged?
Tuesday: Ruth 1:20-21
Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
Prompt: Oh, my friends, have you ever felt like this? Have you been bitter? How did it feel? Did Naomi’s God-blame and bitterness stop God from working in her life? Does this give you hope?
Wednesday: John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Prompt: There are two words for “life” in the Greek. One is Bios which means physical, earthly life (like the study of biology), and the other is Zoe which refers to the spiritual life. Jesus said that He had come to give abundant Zoe life. How does the meaning of this word affect the meaning of Jesus’ promise? Write a prayer with this new understanding.
Thursday: Romans 5: 1-2
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wehave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And weboast in the hope of the glory of God.
Prompt: Eternal perspective. It’s something I have to remind myself to keep when life starts falling apart. The word “faith” in the Greek is Pistis which means “trust.” Does replacing “faith” with “trust” change the meaning of this scripture and how we handle difficult days? Write down your thoughts.
Friday: Romans 5: 3-5
Not only so, but we also glory (rejoice) in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (addition mine.)
Prompt: First, I think few of us reading this blog have experienced the sufferings the early church endured. They were persecuted, starved, jailed, and ostracized. They suffered for Jesus, yet suffering is painful no matter what the cause. Suffering can make us question God’s goodness and love. According to Paul, how can suffering be good and how do we endure through it without shame? Also, if it makes our faith stronger, and we have no shame, what will we want to do?
My friends, we must trust God’s goodness and His love for us. We also must become aware of His Presence with us in the Holy Spirit. Because of Jesus we can rise above our pain and walk through the hardest days on a different plane—an eternally focused one. Personally, as long as I’m focused on today and the problems in front of me, I want to cry, but when I change my focus, when I trust God loves me and has good plans for all this, my strength and joy return. I know God’s plans are so much greater than mine.
Join Me Thursday Night Live!
It’s summer, so my schedule continues to change, but I will be LIVE on Facebook this Thursday night, June 13, to dig deeper with you in our Ruth Bible study. I’ll be LIVE 7:30 PM ET. Just follow me on FB or subscribe to my YouTube channel to watch later.
Have a wonderful week my friends! God LOVES YOU SO MUCH!
PS. Here’s last week’s teaching if you want to see what our time together is like!