Are you patient? How well do you cope with long grocery lines, crowded doctor’s offices, and traffic jams? And those are easy compared to some other kinds of waiting–the single person longing for a marriage partner, the childless couple who wants to start a family, the spouse trapped in an abusive marriage who desperately hopes things will get better, the employee in a dead end job.
It’s easy to get frustrated. Waiting is hard, especially when we think something should be done, yet God tells us time and again: “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act” (Psalm 37:7).
When tragedy strikes, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “What kind of God would let something like this happen?” We read in the Bible that God is both good and all-powerful, but we also see evil running rampant in the world. Why doesn’t God do something to stop it? If He’s good, wouldn’t He want to end the hurt and heartbreak? If He’s all-powerful, wouldn’t He be able to? But He doesn’t. Why not?
One of the best places to find an answer to that question is in the life experiences of Job, but you may not like the answer you find there. Job’s God is not safe, and many find His solution unacceptable.
The story opens with a conversation between God and Satan. When God asks the devil if he knows His servant Job, Satan says the only reason Job is doing well is because God protects him. God’s response is to give the devil permission to hurt Job and his family. Satan wastes no time. He takes Job’s children, his wealth, and his health. Then the devil uses Job’s wife and friends to discourage him.
1 Timothy 4:7 tells us to train ourselves to be godly. We know how training works in the physical realm–bookstores are filled with best-sellers telling us how to get in shape–but what does spiritual training look like?
We want a better life. We want security and peace of mind. We want to love and be loved. We want to believe that even our failures can work for good if we learn from them. Many of us want to become the person Jesus describes in the Sermon on the Mount, a person who loves his enemies, but when we look into our heart, we realize that not only do we not love our enemies, we don’t even love some of our family and friends.
The popular myths we believe are often the source of our failure. We’ve bought into ideas that initially looked reasonable, but ultimately were lies. Let’s consider one of the most destructive: the notion that we can bring about positive change in our life by our willpower.