I don’t care if I get fired. I thought jokingly, I’ve got to get a drink.
I had been bringing carts in from the parking lot for the past few hours–not exactly easy work in South Florida, where it’s in the 80-degree range, even during the winter. I was pretty thirsty. It had been a couple hours since my lunch break. By now, I felt parched.
It might sound cliché, but the water from the Publix water fountain tasted like the best water ever. And if I’m being honest, that’s sometimes a picture of how I live my life as a Christian. I go through periods where my faith is super-dry, and I long for a drink from the well of living water. When I finally get a drink, whether that’s Church or small group, it feels great–but its temporary.
During these dry spells of faith, I go through highs and lows, wondering when my faith will finally level out and be what I want it to be. I often feel like God is distant, or just feel random moments of guilt, apathy, or sadness. Sin often creeps in, or else these spells are a result of a recent cycle of sin. If there was a spiritual WebMD, I know they’d diagnose me with the Bubonic Plague or something, but my faith genuinely feels unstable, and I often wonder, Why God?
When Job Asked God ‘Why’?
I doubt anyone has asked that question more than Job.
Job was at some moments the man I want to be: denying lust, honoring God, seeking God amidst hardship, and caring for the least of these. But, at other moments, Job seems to be stuck in the exact same ruts I get myself into. Job’s circumstances were far worse than mine have ever been on a physical and emotional level, but on a spiritual level, I think a lot of us can empathize with Job.
And I think it’s a human thing. We don’t understand why things happen, and we feel entitled to know.
You see, Job lost his family, his house, his health, his wealth, and basically all he had. Even in this predicament, his wife and friends turned on him. His wife told him to, “Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9) His friends told him clearly that he or his children had sinned, and that was why this suffering was upon him.
Job’s friends weren’t entirely wrong. In some respects, they were on point. They said all people sin, and that we are all impure. They said God rewards the righteous and punishes evildoers. They said God sometimes inflicts suffering to keep us from sin or discipline us. They even said that we can’t understand God’s will all the time. Sound familiar? These are all 100% Biblically-sound truths, and even applicable to Job’s situation in some ways.
However, Job’s friends misdiagnosed Job’s mysterious case. Because God Himself, before all of Heaven called Job righteous. That sounds like high praise to me. But when Satan said that Job was only serving God for God’s gifts, God allowed Satan to take these gifts away.
But Job is never filled in about what’s going on.
I wonder if the same happens to us. God allows that which is good to be taken away so that which is best may be brought to completion. God takes our fleeting pleasures away that we might learn to walk not in thirst, but in joy found only in Christ. But would we really be content with losing our health, our relationships, our jobs, or our “normal” if it was God’s will?
You see, Job was already righteous. Yet God wanted him to learn submission. God wants this for all His children. We can be “righteous” without submitting to God, yet truly following God can only occur under complete submission, and true joy in God is found when we humble ourselves.
Jesus Himself said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) Evidently true fullness as a Christian comes only when we are submitted to God.
A Lifestyle of Submission
What I love about the book of Job is the way it portrays God. We see God as the one true God. We see Him as almighty, all-powerful, just, and filled with wrath towards evil people. We see God as the God who boasts in His creation, and we see the God who loves every person on this Earth. We see God as the Director of storms and King of monsters, yet also the Nurturer of fawns and the Feeder of wild goats. Can we step back and look at God with awe? Here God is not seen through one lens or another, He simply is. He is I AM. God.
I don’t know about you, but I feel such awe even as I write this, thinking that the God who orders planets and brings rain also knows the number of hairs on my head, and knows just how many cells are in each and every plant leaf. But far too often, I, like Job, try to flesh out my own life narrative. I try to understand what is happening and order my own life, rather than trusting God to manage my life or tasks.
Before writing this section, God spoke the word submission to me as I was reading Job. Strangely enough, this provoked fear in me. And I didn’t understand that fear. Wasn’t my life already submitted to God? Wasn’t I already a Christian?
The honest answer: yes.
Like Job, I’m following God. Yet, oddly enough, I’ve managed to avoid my own self-scrutiny for so long and continued to self-manage my life as a Christian. For example, for so long I’ve feared evangelism, because I’ve wondered when I should evangelize to certain people, or how. But when God told me to submit, I realized that I was trying to do God’s job.
Like Job, I needed to learn to trust the King over Creation to guide my steps, rather than foolishly trying to work in my own wisdom.
And the crazy thing is, Job’s life ends in blessing. It isn’t because he earned it. God literally said he needed to learn humility. So why?
Because it was in God’s will. Submission isn’t just following God in bad moments. It’s following God whenever, wherever, why ever, with whatever.
When we attain this kind of submission, this earth does not become irrelevant, but it is put in perspective. When God shakes up our lives, He wants us to submit to His will so that we can realize we don’t have control, and we only see part of the picture. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly.”
With the coronavirus shaking up our lives, there’s no better time to begin practicing this. I’m feeling insanity set in because of missing school, and I don’t even like school.
But what would this week, month, year, or, dare we pray it, life, look like completely surrendered to God? What would life look like if we gave up on our own plans, and looked forward to the day we understand? What would it look like to live each moment in a mind-set of submission, that we might attain fullness, and in the midst of a barren land, seek God with hope, love, and joy pouring into and out of us?
Job put it this way, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15). Job doubted, Job struggled, yet, in hardship and trial, Job submitted. God give us strength to do the same.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Let’s be known fully, even if we don’t yet fully know.