Many years ago, I sat by my daughter’s hospital bed waiting for her to wake up from surgery. It was my job to tell her that the ”fibroid” that had just been removed turned out to be a malignant tumor. When I delivered this news, she shed a single tear, and then asked one question: was her roommate Maritsa still in the waiting room, and could she come see her now? I still marvel at that moment. She didn’t ask a thousand questions. She didn’t yell ”Why me?” She didn’t cry hysterically….she was ready to get on with it and tell her friend she was okay.
Throughout her cancer treatments, Sarah never once asked the why me? question. I finally asked her about that, and she shrugged. ”Why not me?” was her response. Her faith as a 20-year-old was strong enough to believe that since God had brought her to this moment, he would bring her through it. And he did.
Anyone who has undergone cancer surgeries and chemo treatments can probably relate to Job a little. In fact, anyone who has battled severe illness can find themselves somewhere in his story. Certainly those who have battled COVID and come out the other side must feel as though they had been sitting on an ash-heap covered in pain, with friends and family unable to relate to what they are going through.
There are many things in life that put us on an ash heap. Job loss, unfaithful spouses, belligerent kids, family members succumbing to addiction…we all have suffered in some way. The challenge is this: will your suffering cause you to cry out against God? Do you love him in the good times and curse him in the disasters?
Let’s look at Job today.
Job 2 (Contemporary English Version)
2 When the angels gathered around the Lord again, Satan was there with them, 2 and the Lord asked, “Satan, where have you been?”
Satan replied, “I have been going all over the earth.”
3 Then the Lord asked, “What do you think of my servant Job? No one on earth is like him—he is a truly good person, who respects me and refuses to do evil. And he hasn’t changed, even though you persuaded me to destroy him for no reason.”
4 Satan answered, “There’s no pain like your own. People will do anything to stay alive. 5 Try striking Job’s own body with pain, and he will curse you to your face.”
6 “All right!” the Lord replied. “Make Job suffer as much as you want, but just don’t kill him.” 7 Satan left and caused painful sores to break out all over Job’s body—from head to toe.
8 Then Job sat on the ash-heap to show his sorrow. And while he was scraping his sores with a broken piece of pottery, 9 his wife asked, “Why do you still trust God? Why don’t you curse him and die?”
10 Job replied, “Don’t talk like a fool! If we accept blessings from God, we must accept trouble as well.” In all that happened, Job never once said anything against God.
As you may remember, things get much, much worse for Job from this point on. But even after losing everything, he still refused to curse God. This is a lesson for us today. It is a reminder that even when things go very, very wrong, God is still in control. Things always happen for a reason, just like our mamas told us … even when we can’t fathom what that reason might be.
Are you sitting on an ash heap today? Take heart. God is with you in your suffering. If he brought you to this moment, he is guaranteed to bring you through it. So what are you meant to learn from it? Ponder that, and ask God to help you understand.
In all things, God is able. He is present in your suffering, and you do not walk alone. Remember that with him, all things are possible. Let that be your hope today.