In Job's response to Eliphaz, he recounts the enormity of his suffering, "Oh that my grief were actually weighed and laid in the balances together with my calamity! For then it would be heavier than the sand of the seas" (Job 6:2-3) Because of the weight of his affliction, Job has been brought to the end of himself. When he considers what he has been through, and the possibility that tomorrow will be more of the same, he is at the point of despair. He asks, "What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should endure? Is my strength the strength of stones, Or is my flesh bronze? " (Job 6:11-12) What Job is saying is that he is unable to see how he is going to continue to endure through another day of suffering. In his eyes, his strength is unequal to the suffering he is asked to endure. I have been in such a place, wondering how I will ever go on.
Over the past couple of years I have begun lifting weights as part of my strength training routine at our local YMCA. I remember one particular time, just after I had increased some of my weights, that I was especially tired after a workout and remarked to the Lord that I felt very weak. What the Lord reminded me of was that, while I may feel weak, I was actually getting stronger. It wasn't that I was weak, but I just felt weak. I began to understand that, the more I lifted, the more weight I had to lift as part of my training. I also understood that, the amount of weight we must regularly lift, is dependent on what we are training for. If we are just trying to increase muscle tone, and to improve our health, we need only lift a modest amount of weight. But, if we are training to be a world class weight lifter, then we need to life more weight more often.
I believe that the same is true in the spirit. That people who are called to endure great suffering, are often in training for great purposes. The degree of our suffering is not an indication of the degree of our weakness, but rather of our strength, and the special purposes that God is preparing us for. Job suffered greatly because God had great plans for his life.
So, what is our strength and what is our end? Our strength is in Christ and He has promised us that He will not press us beyond our ability to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can trust God that, if he has asked us to walk through something, He will also give us the strength and ability to make it through. As for our end, it is ultimately in God's hand. The Father reminds us that, "'I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'" (Jeremiah 29:11) God's plan for our lives is a plan for good; a plan full of hope. When our present circumstances appear to us to be bleak, we must remember that God sees then end from the beginning. He not only sees present suffering, but He also sees how He is going to redeem the suffering for His glory. When we understand this, the we will be able to walk in faith in what God is working in our lives and not walk in the sight of our current suffering.
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