I wonder if there’s anything more faith-rattling than spiritual suffering. If there’s anything more difficult than doubting God in the face of suffering. It seems to me that it is the umbrella over every other type of suffering we experience. No matter the source of our grief, all of our pain, confusion, and longing ultimately pool at the foot of God’s throne. “Why?” “How long?” “Do you see . . . ?”
According to Jesus, waves of suffering will break over all of us, no matter how great our faith, how passionate our devotion to God. Suffering will break over all of us, no matter how great our faith or how passionate our devotion to God. Click To Tweet
At some point, suffering will rock our world.
And when it does, suffering will test the depth and purity of our love for God. It may even shake our confidence in Him.
What can we do then, to steady our hearts and strengthen our faith?
To help us, God has provided the Biblical account of Job, that great sufferer of the ages, as a light for our own dark path. Job lost all of his children and his entire estate in a single day. He lost his health and the support of his wife and friends. He suffered more in a day than most of us will in a lifetime, and yet his faith survived, intact. How did he deal with doubt while submerged in his suffering?
To find out, let’s begin our first step where Job did, with God Himself.
4 ways Job overcame doubt
1) Job anchored in God’s character.
We overcome doubt during suffering when we trust God’s heart. We overcome doubt during suffering when we trust God's heart. Click To Tweet
Job believed the truth that God is sovereign. That means that God holds absolute power as the Supreme Ruler over His universe and the details of our lives. Job knew that God possessed the power to intervene, if He chose to do so. “…he [God] stands alone…He does whatever he pleases.” (Job 23:13)
God is good. Job also trusted that God was good, in all He did, in all He allowed in Job’s life.“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be blessed.” (Job 1:21) As his trial dragged on, amidst his emotional ups and downs, Job clung to God’s goodness even when he felt targeted by God. “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (Job 13:15)
Job grasped that God’s sovereignty and His goodness are inseparable. God's sovereignty and His goodness are inseparable. Click To Tweet So when the surging tide of suffering hit Job, he cast his anchor into the heart of both of these truths.
2) Job clung to God’s Word.
We overcome doubt during suffering when we focus on what we know is true according to Scripture.We overcome doubt during suffering when we focus on what we know is true according to Scripture. Click To Tweet
Job focused on what he knew about God: God was in control. God was good. “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God….” (Job 16:19-20) He also knew that the events God allowed to overtake him had a purpose, even if he didn’t understand God’s means. “But he knows the way I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)
3) Job claimed God’s promises.
We overcome doubt during suffering when we head for higher ground. We overcome doubt during suffering when we head for higher ground. Click To Tweet
Job looked beyond his present experience to his future hope. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)
4) Job remembered God’s faithfulness.
We overcome doubt during suffering when we reflect on how God has worked through it.We overcome doubt during suffering when we reflect on how God has worked through it. Click To Tweet
“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you…” (Job 42:5) Although Job had lived a God-honoring life before disaster struck, his suffering exposed pockets of self righteousness and brought him face-to-face with God in new and deeper ways. In the end, God revealed His glory and strengthened Job. God comforts and encourages us even today through Job’s story. “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first…” (Job 42:12)
Job’s faith wouldn’t have survived his suffering unless he had anchored in God’s character, clung to His Word, and trusted His heart.
And neither will ours.
Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Emphasis mine.) Romans 8:28 affirms it, “For God works all things together for the good of those who love him . . .” We read the end of Job’s story and know it was true for him.
So take heart! Just as God’s promises were true for Job, we can be confident they will be true for us because God doesn’t change. God is still in control, and He is still good! God is still in control, and He is still good! Click To Tweet
Which of these truths will you anchor in today to help overcome fear and doubt?
(Note: Each post in this series will follow the same four step pattern (Anchor, Cling, Claim, Remember) to overcome doubt. However, the specific applications will be tailored for each topic, i.e., Doubt in the Face of Uncertainty, Suffering, God’s Silence, etc.)
Featured image courtesy of Johannes Plenio