In my previous post I introduced the story of Job to you. We saw how he serves as an example to all believers who face unexplained personal tragedy. Today, I want to cover the first of two principles that we can glean from Job’s response to the Lord: Preach the biblical truths to yourself.
When tragedy strikes, it usually comes with a multitude of heavy questions. I remember the moment that Kristie and I found out we had lost our baby. We were in route back to our house after a visit to the doctor’s office when we received the call that our baby was gone. We were on a small road and I was able to pull the car aside where we mourned for the better part of an hour. Most of the questions below were verbally stated or quietly contemplated by both of us before we put the car in gear again:
- Where is God?
- What good can possibly come from this?
- Does God still love me? Why does God hate me?
- Why God, did this happen to us?
These are only a few of the many questions that we would wrestle with for the days, months, and years ahead. As time progressed, we found that God graciously answered many of them for us… others remained unanswered.
Key to our understanding of the above questions and key to our understanding of who God was after such an unexplained personal tragedy was His truths found in Scripture.
When your relationship with God is shaken after an unexplained personal tragedy, it is imperative that you saturate yourself in the Word of God. Search it for His wonderful truths and promises. Make them an integral part of your life. Write them down, place them in your pockets, email them to yourself or make it a point to memorize them. Preach the word of God to yourself. This is the first thing that Job did.
Preach God’s Infinite Character to Yourself.
Job confesses in 42:2, “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” In the midst of confusion and unexplained tragedy, Job praises God for His infinite power and sovereignty. We must make it a point to remember what God’s infinite character means.
He is infinitely good. Goodness is not something that God conforms to, but rather, it is something that flows out of who He is. We can see this in Genesis one. Everything that God creates is good. Furthermore, it is not simply good, but it is good for humanity, the apex of His creation.
God is also infinitely just. We know that He who is without sin cannot allow sin to go unpunished. This is not to say that your unexplained pain and suffering is a result of sin. It does affirm, however, that because God is just, any sin that was present in the event of that tragedy is not justified by God. Rather, it will be paid for by the individual who committed it (if they are an unbeliever) or by Jesus Christ himself (if they are a believer). We must continually preach God’s infinite justice to ourselves when in the midst of unexplained pain and suffering.
God is infinite in His redemption. It would not be possible for Job to praise God in the midst of unexplained personal tragedy if he did not already have a solid hope in the infinite redemption of his Savior. His words record this truth in Job 19:25: “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.” You and I must continually remind ourselves of God’s infinite and gracious redemption in the midst of pain and suffering if we truly seek to understand God in light of our tragedy.
Preach Humanity’s Finite Nature to Yourself
Second, we find that Job confesses his limited knowledge to God: “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (42:3)
Job first quotes an accusation that God had made against him in 42:1 and then responds correctly. He confesses that he spoke in ignorance when he demanded that God explain why he was suffering. We too must continually preach our own finiteness to ourselves when in the midst of unexplained pain and suffering. This is a truth found within Scripture and we will do well to remember it.
Isaiah 29:16 compares our demand of God’s explanation to a piece of pottery instructing its maker. It is absurd to think that something created has any right to ask its creator why he created it as he did. Man is not above God and man does not place God on trial. Often, like Job, we find that our pain and suffering is beyond understanding. This truth will either shake or solidify your relationship with God. If you are struggling to understand God in the shadow of unexplained tragedy, preach this truth to yourself. Humanity is the creation. God is the creator. It is for this reason that we are instructed to trust in the Lord and to not lean on our own understanding of things (Proverbs 3:5). We must remind ourselves that the foolishness of God is wiser even than the wisdom of man (1 Corinthians 1:25).
The Truth Will Set You Free
Kristie and I struggled greatly to reclaim our faith in God’s goodness. The key to accomplishing this was continually preaching the truths of Scripture to ourselves and praying them back to God as Job did. As a child of God, you know that faith is not based on that which you do not know, rather it is based on that which you know but do not see. (Hebrews 11:1).
The first step in seeking to understand God again in the midst of unexplained personal tragedy is to continually preach the truths of His word to yourself and to pray them back to Him.