Valuable Lessons from the Book of Job



And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

There is so much to learn from reading the book of Job. It is a book rich with beautiful truth and teaching from God our creator. I don’t know about you, but God so beautifully leads me and teaches me what I need to learn. If you haven’t sat down and read through the book of Job thoughtfully I encourage you to do so, either now or after you finish reading this. If you’ve never read it, read the first chapter now before continuing to read this post.

Lesson 1: Satan wants to destroy the servants of The Lord: We must be aware of this and prepared.
What was so special about Job that Satan wanted to destroy him so badly? Job 1:7-8 says “The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
Job was described by God as His servant, blameless, upright, a man who feared God and turned from evil. As far as Satan was concerned, the only reason this was the case was because of all the good that God had done for Job. Let’s think on this for a minute. It’s easy to appear a faithful servant when all is well and going your way. What happens when circumstances shift? Satan was convinced that in this case Job would curse God. He was trying to prove God’s Word wrong. Is this not his goal in everything? 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan wanted to devour Job and he wants to do the same to me and you. If you don’t truly love God for who He is, but instead for what you think loving Him can do for you, when the attack comes there’s a good chance you will reject God. The only hope we have when difficulty comes is to fall before our God and worship. Do you do this?

Lesson number 2: God does great work in our moments of darkness and despair.
Satan is always plotting and scheming against the servants of the Lord. Why? His goal is to utterly destroy us. If he can’t kill us, he wants nothing more than to bring us to a place of deep darkness and despair, with the ultimate goal of our rejection of God. What he doesn’t realize? For a faithful servant of the Lord God, places of deep despair are where God does the greatest work. This is where our faith is tried by fire, proven true. This is where our hearts and character are shaped and molded. Where we become complete, lacking nothing. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside” (Job 23:10-11). Job understood this truth about suffering. Despite his pain he knew the value and beauty of what he was enduring. It has been in my deepest places of despair that I have truly felt the depth of God’s love for me. Don’t fear those places, embrace them. If you are truly a servant of God, seeking to be blameless and upright, living in the fear of the Lord, as Job was, expect this to happen. 1 Peter 1: 6-7 says “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Our suffering proves our faith and strengthens our dependence on God our creator. Is there anything more valuable than this? This is exactly what Job’s suffering did.

God recently healed me of something I suffered from for all my life (not a physical ailment, a psychological one). I was blown away, but I also questioned Him on why He allowed me to suffer for so long. I realized that in my daily suffering I always chose to go to Him for help and comfort. He ALWAYS showed up and was there for me. Had it not been for that suffering I’m not sure what my connection with God would be like. When I realized this I felt such love from God my Faithful Father and gratitude for the suffering I had endured. I wouldn’t go back and change it for anything. The depth of closeness I have with God and the realization that in my suffering I chose to go to Him for comfort is a priceless gift. Who or what do you turn to in your suffering? Turn to the great comforter and it will transform your life.

Lesson number 3: God does not owe me anything! I am God’s created servant.
A few months ago I felt very led to read Job. I stood at the counter for over and hour reading and reading, writing note after note, seeing truths I had previously overlooked. God was teaching me something very important, as He always does so faithfully. He was reminding me of the valuable truth that He does not owe me anything. The sooner I can embrace this truth the better. Job understood this, which is why the story went the way that it did. Please don’t misunderstand, God has good things for us because He wants to, not because He has to, or because we deserve it. Not only that, we are often incapable of recognizing His good over our own idea of good. To understand this truth and live in it is to live in a true place of gratitude.

After Job lost everything the first thing he did was worship. He said, shall I accept good from God and not adversity? Despite the depth of agony and despair Job felt, he refused to curse God. Why? Job knew that God did not owe him anything. He knew that God even had the right to take everything from him. Job had an accurate and truthful understanding of who God was and of his place as God’s created servant. Had his view been flawed, perhaps had he believed the lie that God owed him, he might have cursed God. Do you have an accurate understanding of God? If you believe God owes you something it might be hard to accept trials and difficulty in life and remain faithful to God. Let me be clear, as with Job, God wants to bless His children and He does in His perfect way, but He does not owe that to us, and He certainly does not prevent us from facing difficulty.

Lesson number 4: Pain and Suffering (even to the point of suicidal thinking) is not a sin!
Job was in such darkness he wanted God to take his very life. Job 6:8-9 says “Oh that I might have my request,  and that God would fulfill my hope, that it would please God to crush me,  that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!” Job was suicidal in his despair. Did you know this? A man who God himself called upright and blameless struggled with thoughts and desires of death. If this is you, you are not alone. This is not unforgivable or something to be ashamed of. These types of thoughts and feelings reveal that you are going through pain and suffering, as Job and so many other Biblical men and women did as well. Take comfort in knowing God understands your pain and loves you. Seek out a true comforter to mourn with you and walk with you through your despair to the other side. Job was not silent in his despair, rather he honestly cried out to God. God wants us to share our deepest places of pain with Him, including thoughts as painful as wanting to die. Whoever needs to hear this right now, don’t keep this to yourself. Go to God and others you trust and receive comfort.

Lesson number 5: We are called to be good comforters.
Often times when we come across someone in despair we cause them more harm than good. We are so uncomfortable with pain and suffering that we can’t just sit and mourn with others. Job’s friends made a decent effort to comfort him at first, but they quickly turned to breaking his spirit. Job called his friends miserable comforters. I believe there are some things that make for a miserable comforter. An unwillingness to address and heal from your own pain, (check out my post on healing from pain here), a lack of discernment, and self-righteous arrogance. God has called us to be comforters. Let’s start taking that calling more seriously. If you feel uncomfortable sitting with someone in their suffering it could be because you are just not used to it and you need to do it. Or maybe you are selfish and don’t want to. It’s not a pleasant or comfortable thing, and selfishly we might avoid it. I really believe this is sinful and unchristlike. How many people did Jesus seek out in their suffering? This is why He healed so many! Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted and suffering, not to hang out with those who were well and without pain. That would have been easy, and Jesus came to do the hard things. Romans tells us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. When is the last time you wept with someone who was suffering? Maybe you are unable to comfort those who suffer because you have not faced your own suffering. When we don’t embrace our suffering and receive comfort ourselves we are not capable of comforting others. Any of these reasons could be why Job’s friends were such miserable comforters. We must learn to embrace our suffering and receive comfort so that we can become good comforters.

The following passage makes it abundantly clear that as followers of Christ we are called to suffer and receive comfort, and to offer comfort to those who suffer as well. Paul viewed his suffering and affliction as a gift to be used to benefit others. I have faced much suffering in my life and have received comfort and healing. I once told God that I needed Him to use my suffering and healing to help others or else it would have been for nothing but pain. He answered that prayer in quite a powerful way. There are days when I am sitting with someone who is suffering as I did, and it is heavy and difficult to carry, sometimes I even think of how much easier it would be not to do it. But watching someone in pain heal and receive comfort is one of the most beautiful gifts. To keep this to ourselves is to ignore the very calling of God on all believers.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Final note: If you haven’t healed from your suffering I urge you to do so, There is ALWAYS comfort in the Lord. If you don’t have a person to comfort you know that truth. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). If you aren’t doing so, I urge you to seek someone out who you know is hurting and comfort them. Don’t try to fix it, don’t tell them what they are doing wrong or not doing. Sit with them, listen to them, weep with them, be what they need you to be. Allow the Spirit of God that is in you to bring supernatural comfort to those who are hurting around you. As you do this you will begin to see people as Jesus did, and you will be transformed.

Have I Really Forgiven?

Forgiveness.jpgWhen I was reading my book Hope Focused Marriage Counseling written by Everett Worthington last night I came across something about incomplete forgiveness. It talked about how sometimes we think we have forgiven someone but we might not have fully forgiven. What it talked about next really got my attention and got me thinking. Do I feel a sense of happiness or satisfaction when I find out that something bad happened to or went wrong for someone I have “forgiven”? This was tough for me to read and really convicted me. Here I am thinking I’ve been obedient and have forgiven specific people who have hurt me, yet reading this made me realize I really haven’t.

Think about someone who has caused you pain that you think you have forgiven. If you found out tomorrow that something went wrong for him or her would you be happy about it? or would you feel compassion? My answer to this question definitely did not thrill me. To be honest with you, after reading this my initial thought was how in the world can I truly and completely forgive? What I realized was that forgiveness is a choice, one that takes purposeful action and God’s grace.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

This verse tells me that I am to lay down my bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking. When I feel a sense of satisfaction at the expense of someone I claim to have forgiven I am not obeying this command. Additionally, as I mentioned before, If I have truly forgiven someone I should feel kindness and compassion towards him or her, especially when things go wrong. This can truly seem like an impossible thing to do, which is why I must rely on God’s continuing mercy and grace to accomplish this.

We have to remind ourselves of the forgiveness and grace that we received from God through Christ in order to offer this to another. One thing I have found helpful when I am lacking forgiveness is to pray for those I can’t seem to forgive. That God would bless them, encourage them, and heal them as He has healed me. Asking God to help me forgive is also something that has made a huge difference for me. Praying for strength to forgive doesn’t mean you are failing, it means you admit that you need God to accomplish such a difficult task. I’m still on my journey of forgiveness and hope that this encourages you on yours as well.

5 Tips for Processing and Healing From Pain

man in yellow field

The more you ignore and avoid pain the deeper it is buried in the subconscious, escaping your awareness. The unfortunate thing about this is that even though the pain is hidden its effects are not. Healing from pain requires self-awareness and a willingness to do something about it once you’ve discovered it.

Below are some tips that have helped me to discover, work through, and heal from my own pain, which I hope will help you as well:

Examine your feelings: You might be totally aware of pain that you have never dealt with, as this is sometimes the case. Often, however, many people have ignored and avoided pain for so long that they aren’t aware of it or how it impacts their lives. For example, If you’ve never processed the pain of your parents divorce this can greatly effect your marriage. Maybe every time you and your spouse have a simple argument common to most marriages you have a total breakdown, turning it into a much bigger issue. This might be due to the emergence of your feelings and fears of rejection and abandonment from the pain of the divorce. These feelings are automatic, and while they seem rational to you, they typically seem irrational to others and can cause serious problems. You have to examine these feelings in order to discover where they are coming from so that you can process it and heal. Ask yourself these questions, “Why do I feel the way that I feel?” and why do I do what I do?” Through asking this question you might discover that a simple argument with your spouse really should not cause you intense fear of abandonment and rejection. This can open the door of understanding that something deeper is going on. Understanding your feelings and actions, especially ones that are negatively impacting your life, is critical.

Talk about it with someone you trust: Once you have discovered and acknowledged your pain that needs to be healed its important to talk about it with someone you trust. Talking about it not only reveals your feelings tied to the pain but it also uncovers beliefs you have developed about yourself and the world based on your pain. Talking about it can be a difficult thing to do but it is necessary for healing and truly moving forward without the effects lingering and causing you more issues. If you feel like you don’t have someone you trust to talk to consider seeing a professional counselor. The idea of talking about your pain to someone you don’t know intimately might be scary, but remember, the right counselor wont judge you and will listen to you with sincere care.

Allow yourself to feel your feelings: when you work hard to avoid pain you end up transferring your feelings associated with it onto unrelated people and situations. You might feel rejected by a parent but because you haven’t faced the pain you transfer this feeling onto your spouse or a friend. Allow yourself to feel rejected by the right person, experience the feeling and work through it. One good way to feel and experience your feelings are by writing them down and reading them aloud. This can be a huge breakthrough for you. Allow yourself to cry and feel the intensity of your pain. Feelings are meant to be expressed, not ignored.  One common saying about depression is that it is anger turned inward. Anger that is suppressed and ignored doesn’t just disappear, it eventually becomes a part of who you are, seeping into all areas of your life. Additionally, encourage the people in your life to express their feelings as well rather than avoid them. The more comfortable you are with your own feelings the more comfortable you will become with the feelings of others.

Surrender to God and allow Him to comfort you: Considering the importance of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, this step is the most important for me when dealing with pain. God wants nothing more than to offer you His love, peace, and comfort during times of pain. For a lot of people this might seem confusing given the common belief that God allows painful things to happen, but this is for a different discussion and blog post.. In my own life, I have experienced true healing when I go before God and ask Him to comfort me in my pain and provide me with His hope. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ I strongly urge you to consider giving Him a chance at being your savior, it will forever change your life. It is also important to the best of your ability to surround yourself with people who will offer you love and comfort as well.

Work towards forgiveness: This can be really hard and can take a long time. Forgiveness is so important for processing pain, whether you need to forgive yourself or someone else, this step is crucial to the process. Just remember, forgiving someone does not depend on that person being sorry, but on you making a choice to do it so that you can move on. Think about what happens to you when you don’t forgive? When I don’t forgive someone else I start to develop bitterness towards that person and become irritable and angry. This can even lead to fatigue, anxiety, and a loss in energy. Think about the impact this can have. I know that when I make the choice to forgive someone I am able to fully move beyond the pain. Now an important thing to remember is that you cannot skip all of the other steps and move right to forgiveness, as this will likely be a superficial thing that wont last. Forgiveness should follow acknowledging pain, talking about it with someone you trust, expressing your feelings, and experiencing true comfort.

On a final note, if you have worked on processing pain but you still seem to be experiencing difficult symptoms, I strongly encourage seeking out a therapist trained in Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). As I’ve used this therapy in my work with clients I have seen years long pain and trauma processed and eliminated in a truly miraculous way! I have also experienced significant healing in my own therapy using ART.

Hopefully these tips are helpful for you and encourage you to take some steps toward processing rather than avoiding your pain. I promise you that, although it might be painful initially, it will be well worth it.

What are some things that have helped you process your own pain?

The Importance of Processing Pain

1I wont lie to you, facing and dealing with pain isn’t a fun process. It can be pretty painful. This is why a lot of people choose to ignore and “stuff” their pain and feelings in order to avoid it and move on. The problem is, avoiding pain doesn’t remove it, in fact it does just the opposite. The pain that you stuff and burry deep inside wont stay hidden for long. It will resurface as soon as you are faced with a “trigger.” A trigger is an activating event, often random, that causes a person to relive a painful experience. This can be confusing for people because they typically are not even aware of where the pain and emotions are coming from. Don’t believe the lie “time heals all wounds.” This is a fallacy. Time heals nothing, processing pain heals pain.

Why is processing pain so important? Living a healthy life and having stable and healthy relationships is one of the benefits of processing pain, rather than avoiding it. remember how I mentioned before that pain is often triggered by random events? This can leave a person who has not processed his pain feeling just as hurt and broken as he did when the actual event occurred. Imagine how this can negatively impact a person’s life and relationships? Below I will talk about what can happen when you don’t process pain and what can happen when you do.

What happens when you don’t process pain? When you avoid your pain you often end up avoiding people and situations as well, potentially leading to isolation and loneliness. When something starts to trigger your pain you might make efforts to flee. For example, say a woman who was cheated on and abandoned by her husband chose to avoid her pain rather than face it and heal from it. She might discover that the pain is triggered when being pursued by another man, or when around a married friend. Her hidden pain might cause her to miss out on friendships and a future relationship, keeping her from living life to the fullest and enjoying God’s blessings of marriage and friendship.

Additionally, as I mentioned before, triggered pain can be intense and debilitating. When pain is triggered all of the feelings hiding behind your buried pain will be exposed, poured out on those closest to you. Think of pain as a cap on a bottle that is holding multiple feelings inside of it. Feelings like rejection, abandonment, betrayal, neglect, and loneliness. All of these feelings spill out and effect every area of life until you can manage to stuff them back into the bottle, only to have them emerge again when triggered.

What happens when you do process pain? Triggers become reminders for individuals who have successfully processed pain. Rather than debilitating you, they remind you of pain that you have successfully worked through and healed from. It will likely still hurt, but rather than feeling as though you are re-experiencing it all over again, you might feel a sadness for what you had to go through. The pain is no longer a part of you, sneaking up on you when you least expect it. You are no longer controlled by fear and forced to avoid people and situations. I know this because I have processed some painful things in my life. I have experienced the freedom that comes from working through pain and then allowing God to comfort and heal.

Once you have successfully dealt with your pain you are capable of helping others do the same. Think of the woman I mentioned before. If she were to continue to ignore the pain associated with her husband’s unfaithfulness she would likely avoid other women going through the same thing for fear of her own pain being triggered. It is the woman who goes through something like this and chooses to face it rather than ignore it, healing from it, who is able to walk alongside another hurting woman and offer hope. The joy that comes from using your painful experience to help and support someone else is incredible. This is only possible once you have processed it and have healed from it.

Thankfully it is never too late to process pain and experience healing. In my next blog I will talk about some steps you can take to do this, gaining freedom and the ability to live the life God intends for you.