A couple of years ago, I was meditating on the stories of Abraham and Job. While these men lived four generations apart, their stories are similar in the reality that God stripped down both of them to a place where they had nothing BUT God left. For Abraham, that meant God commanding him to give up his one and only son. For Job, it meant the death of all of his children and his wife; the loss of his health, position, friends, and wealth; and, ultimately a crisis of faith itself. I knew God blessed both of these men more in the end because of these tests, but I wondered:
How do you have a friendship with God after such tragedy?
How do you trust God and want to serve God after He’s taken everything? How do you want to be near him? It seems almost cruel. Like God is a US Marines commander, taking these men apart and putting them back together again. I had a tough time reconciling the God who is “abounding in love” with the image of Him allowing Satan to touch anything Job had, sparing only his life. I had even more difficulty accepting God’s invitation to friendship if it meant that I could be used as a pawn in some chess match between evil and a God who could just smite that evil instead of wasting the lives of people. How is that loving?
It takes walking through such a tragedy to realize why someone can still want to follow God and believe Him and submit to Him. While most bible believing Christians will gain comfort from thinking of God as some almighty commander (He can do what He wants to do! He is God and I am dirt), my hope is that you will go deeper.
He is not rude. He is not self-seeking. This isn’t a glory game for Him. He really is love.
When you start from that place, and you walk with God that way, you realize that loss and grief invite a greater truth. Namely, that you really only have God to begin with anyway.
When you get to the end of the grieving the losses in your life, you discover that God is the only one that is faithful to you anyway. That, while He can seem absent in the feeling a loss of protection, He is found in the stillness of grief. He’s found in the knowledge that while everything, or at the least someone or something very dear, is lost…, you’re still alive, waking up every morning, and that’s because He’s still with you. He is found in that frustrating hope of a tomorrow without grief. There is a struggle in that. A struggle that He understands and is willing to bear us through.
And when, like Job and Abraham, He restores everything that is lost — and He will restore everything. Every relationship. Every loss. Every injustice — we will value it, but we’ll be able to prize something greater more. Because the story of His faithfulness, His presence, His participation in our life is the true treasure.
That’s what Peter means when he says:
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 6-9)
For all those who grieve, I grieve with you. And I also hope for myself and for you to hold to the hope of a faithful God who does reveal Himself to all those who are willing to wait silently for His time to do so. I hope I’ll stand with you, throwing my crown from enduring my sufferings on this Earth at His feet, praising Him, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, valuing His presence and friendship more than anything for an ETERNITY. The greatest desire without worry about any loss ever.