Can I be real with you for a sec? I am like captain insecure these days.  I could list off a million reasons, but the truth is that Jesus has been asking me to do some really big things lately that are totally out of my comfort zone.  And I’m just really struggling.

It’s the end of summer here in the dessert.  In the spring, I was gardener extraordinaire.  I did crazy hard work on our back yard, planted new things in the front, laid a patio, built multiple raised beds, moved tons and literal tons of bricks all around our property and came out with something pretty nice.  I mean, we did most of it for $Free.99, so by pretty nice I don’t mean that  it’s HGTV worthy or anything.  But from what our yard used to look like- it was definitely a transformative year.  The beginning of the summer was lovely, the grass growing and trimmed.  My garden planted and hopeful.  And then late July and August hit and I didn’t go outside once because I DON’T LIKE SWEATING THE INSTANT I STEP OUTSIDE.  Oh, I’m a sweater.  I sweat hard.  So I boycotted this thing I spent so much time on because- oh yeah, I forgot to mention- I LIVE ON THE SURFACE OF THE SUN.

So during my boycott, the weeds came.  I ignored them as long as I could until suddenly, after walking the neighborhood with my dear friend, I was ridiculously embarrassed of how ugly our front yard was.  Weeds everywhere.  Overgrown everything.  Like “is this house abandoned? Probably because WHO COULD LIVE LIKE THAT.”  So I got out and started pulling weeds. 

Jesus talks to me while I’m pulling weeds- He always has.  The weeds had been less this year because I was actually doing upkeep on our yard, but this is New Mexico, people.  The weed struggle is real no matter what.  I started praying about these big scary things He’s asking me to do and for some reason I started saying, “Jesus, I just really want to be someone you trust.”  That kind of surprised me- those words coming out of my mouth- so I paused for a moment to really reflect on why I said it.

We’ve been through a lot, Nathan and I, in the past seven years.  We’ve fought through things I’d never wish on anyone.  And we’ve had joys so big we thought we’d explode.  Suddenly, as though Jesus was guiding my thoughts from one thing to another, I felt like He started to show me struggle after struggle that we’ve faced.  And then I heard Him whisper, “Have you considered my servant Job?”

When I was struggling with infertility, the Lord spoke to me a lot about Job.  Now hear me out friend- do I think my life is anywhere near as awful as Job’s?  OF COURSE I DON’T.  That would be ridiculous.  But what came to mind was this passage from Job 1:6-12:

 One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.  The Lord asked Satan, “Where have you come from?”

“From roaming through the earth,” Satan answered Him, “and walking around on it.”

 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.”

Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing?  Haven’t You placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse You to Your face.”

 “Very well,” the Lord told Satan, “everything he owns is in your power. However, you must not lay a hand on Job himself.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

You know, the crazy thing about this encounter is that God is the one who suggested that Satan focus on Job.  At first glance it makes me think, “What the heck, God?” But then when you look closer, something beautiful arises: God is proud of Job- He really trusts him.

I mean really- that’s a bold move: “Hey Satan, I know you’ve been busy trying to spoil my perfect plan and walking your muddy feet all up in my people’s lives.  But you’ve been wasting your time.  Have you considered my boy, Job?  Dude’s amazing.  Go ahead and try to make him trip up.  He won’t.  He’s faithful.”

Do you see it?  It’s almost like a taunt, as if God is baiting Satan into seeing how powerful His love in and through Job is.  Satan is convinced that he can make Job stumble and curse God.  God knows that Satan will be made a fool.  When you first read through Job, you feel so bad for the guy.  He had such a blessed, prosperous life and it all gets taken away.  But at deeper glance, my sympathy for Job turns into complete respect and amazement.  Here are a few things that I love about him:

  1. He doesn’t try to have a fake attitude for God.  He mourns, calls his friends, cries a lot but still says “blessed be the name of the Lord.”  It’s easy to think that you always have to put on your “best self” to talk to God.  Job reassures us that we do not.
  2. He processes through a lot.  I love that he has friends who come to his side when he really needs them.  They all talk, give their opinions on why the heck all this would happen, and Job even seems like he might go rogue for a bit.  But what he always comes back to is this: “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” (Job 2:10) 
  3. He really fought through the unimaginable and still made the decision to be faithful to the Lord.  Amazing.  So many have been unfaithful for less cause.  Job is a bad mamajamma.

There’s this real controversial verse in the Bible that people misquote all the time.  They think it says “God will not give you more than you can handle”.  But in reality, it says:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

See, he’s talking about temptation, not about your strength.  So many people seem to think that God must think they’re really strong and He wouldn’t dare give them something that was too hard for them to get through.  And I get it, I do.  But I think that God gives us situations that are way too hard for us to handle… all the time.  Because we need to rely on His strength and run to Him when we are overwhelmed- not be prideful and think we can do it on our own.

Anyway, I bring all of this up to say that as I was pulling weeds, talking to God, hearing Him bring up Job, suddenly my perspective began to switch.  And then He whispered, “If your life so far isn’t an indication that I trust you, I don’t know what is!”

Mind.  Blown.

When I look at my hardest moments- the hurt, the betrayal, the hospital stays, the heart aches- through my human eyes, I’m tempted to wonder if I did something wrong.  I have gone back and forth for years, wishing I read my Bible more in those times.  Wishing I hadn’t been so angry in the process.  Wishing I was better acquainted with Jesus than I was with jealousy.  But with this new perspective, it sheds light on God’s heart for me in the midst of all that: He trusted me.  He trusted that I would remain faithful, even when everything in my life was being shaken.  And suddenly I am humbled beyond belief- that My King, my Friend, He trusts me.

That changes everything.  It makes insecurity subside and the voice of doubt grow distant.  It makes the hurts and heart aches fade away as I look on His face and see His joy in me. 

My favorite part of Job’s story is the very end.  After chapters and chapters of debating if God really is good, the book finishes up like this:

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his prosperity and doubled his previous possessions. All his brothers, sisters, and former acquaintances came to his house and dined with him in his house. They sympathized with him and comforted him concerning all the adversity the Lord had brought on him. Each one gave him a qesitah and a gold earring.

So the Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first. He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.  He also had seven sons and three daughters.  He named his first daughter Jemimah, his second Keziah, and his third Keren-happuch.  No women as beautiful as Job’s daughters could be found in all the land, and their father granted them an inheritance with their brothers.

Job lived 140 years after this and saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. Then Job died, old and full of days. (Job 42:10-16)

Double.  God doubled all the riches Job had before.  And God blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first.

What if we began to see our struggles as “faithfulness exercises” instead?  What if instead of running away from God in hard times, we ran to Him? 

My heart both aches and leaps thinking of struggles that way.  But after a whisper from Him, saying that He trusts me- I can do it.  I can do it because I know He’s with me.  I can do it because I know He’ll fight for me and I need only be still.  I can do it because I’m really letting Him do it anyway.  I can do it.  He trusts me.

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