“And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:13-22).
When we consider human suffering our minds automatically recall the story of Job. Here was a man who was healthy and wealthy, but lost everything almost overnight. Not only was his personal suffering terrible, but also judgemental friends discouraged him, and even his own wife was unsympathetic by encouraging him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Job had been sailing on the crest of a wave, yet now he found himself forsaken, disheartened and grieving in God’s waiting room. He was waiting to hear God’s remedy to the serious problems he was facing.
The difficulties of waiting
In a push-button world we find it very hard to wait. We often have our patience stretched while we wait our turn to see the doctor or in a queue at the bank. The trouble is that we cannot see what is going on behind the scenes, so the people we are trying to see often provide information to calm our concerns about being forgotten. God is still at work even when we do not see Him doing anything. His word is given to us to encourage us to have faith while we wait. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (Psalm 46).
We have to understand that God is not obligated to explain the reasons for some of the things He allows in our lives, therefore it does not mean that we are out of His will because something terrible happens to us. All that is required of us is that we put our confidence in Him and believe that He has everything under control. This means we must not try to find out the reason or seek to solve the issue through any human means. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). We ought to remind ourselves that God is never late in any appointment He has made for us. How often have we comforted ourselves with Romans 8:28? “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Deep down we know that some of the greatest truths are learned in difficult circumstances. Of course we could worry instead, but in reality this is a fast way to demolish faith.
The direction for waiting
Job quickly learned that waiting on God was important for spiritual growth and understanding. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him” (Job 13:15) … “Upon earth there is not his like” (Job 41:33) … “I know that thou canst do every thing” (Job 42:2). While in God’s waiting room we must maintain our trust in Him, for through faith we are drawn closer to the Lord. In times of trouble we ought to be quiet and listen. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear” (Job 42:5). This means that we must not vacate the waiting room but instead continue to prayerfully trust that He knows best. We can reflect upon the wonderful things the Lord has done for us in the past and the many scrapes He has rescued us from. We can re-evaluate our present spiritual condition and confess any known sin in our lives.
The most important thing of all is that we submit ourselves totally to His care and believe that He will deal with the burden. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). It is those who wait patiently for the Lord who receive direction for their lives and find the blessings He provides. “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalm 40:1-2) … “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:39). When Job came to an end of himself and trusted solely in the Lord he found deliverance from all his troubles. “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job … So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:10, 12).
What if Job had abandoned God’s waiting room and sulked his way through life? He learned that, not only was God real, but also that He was close to him each step of the way. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5). This new intimacy, despite the terrible problems he had gone through, lifted Job’s spiritual life to a higher plain. He had a new perspective on life because of his suffering. If and when we find ourselves involved in difficulties, sicknesses or heartaches, let us continue to trust God, wait on Him, be still in His presence and be willing to learn from the situation. In God’s waiting room there are many wonderful blessings to discover.