Have you ever been through a difficult season where God seemed extremely distant? No matter how much you prayed or sought God through worship or the reading of scripture, he appeared far off? Maybe your time with him felt dry and somewhat meaningless? Maybe all kinds of bad things happened to you for months or even years?
Many godly men and women throughout the ages have endured such trials and come to the other side much stronger and better equipped to accomplish their divine destinies! Most importantly, they came to know God in much greater depths after surviving the storm.
Job, for example, was a godly, upright man before God. He lost all his children, his wealth and his possessions in one day (see Job 1). Then, his health was taken from him, too (Job 2:1-10). He developed excruciating boils over his entire body that would not go away. And then, his closest friends judged him, accusing him of sin. After all, why else would these things be happening to him? But Job did not do anything wrong to directly bring on all the negative things that happened to him.
Can you imagine your closest friends kicking you when you were at your ultimate low point? Instead of sympathy, they give you judgment. Worst of all, during all of this, God was distant – nowhere to be found! Job did not see, hear or feel God’s presence. “I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed. But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold” (Job 23:8-10 NLT). Job looked everywhere, but still he could not find God. Despite his limited perspective, he knew God was intimately acquainted with his situation. Job realized that God was using this trial to mature him and teach him things he could never have learned without this intimidating journey.
We can learn three things from Job’s trials.
Difficult seasons teach us to be God-dependent, not self-reliant. They compel us to entirely lean on God. The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT). Do not try to figure everything out, but trust God and ask him to direct your steps. Ask him for help in understanding what he wants you to learn in your trial since he is behind the scenes anyway, growing you.
God has not and never will leave you, even if it feels like he has (see Hebrews 13:5). If you have accepted Christ, God is with you and always will guide you. Do not try to reason things out in your carnal mind, but see with eyes of faith. Remember, spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). You might go through an experience where it feels like God has completely abandoned you. You might not sense his presence because everything around you is falling apart. This might be one of the scariest seasons of you life where you have no clue what is happening. But God is with you and behind the scenes, growing your faith.
These types of trials expose areas in us that need to become more like God. Job said that when God tested him, he would come forth as pure gold. In other words, the impurities in his life were burned off, leaving only precious, valuable gold. God is more concerned about our growth and maturity as followers of Christ than he is with our comfort. The Bible explains, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more” (John 15:1-2 NLT). Like a master gardener, God carefully removes the parts of our lives that are harming us or that do not reflect his nature. And, the areas that are good, he carefully prunes so that we maximize our potential.
Do not give up when your world is flipped upside down. God is stretching you. He is molding you, much like he did to Job. And at just the right time, he will bring you through the trial looking more like him! You will be better off. God blessed Job’s life twice as much for having gone through the challenge (see Job 42:12-17). So, hang in there!