Spirit-Led Woman

Want to receive SpiritLed Woman by email? Sign up here
poverty suffering
(© humonia iStockPhoto.com)

The SpiritLed Woman podcast is empowering women weekly to follow their purpose in Christ and boldly walk in faith. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.

I reflected earlier this week on Job's words of faith: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” One of the great vexations of such slaying is the constant inward questioning (and sometimes outward questioning by others, as in Job's case) of why this is happening to you.
Why won't God let me get pregnant? Why won't God heal my child? Why did her husband stay and mine leave? Why did that woman get married to a great guy but I am left lingering in my loneliness? What is wrong with me? Is it disobedience on my part? Is there some hidden sin of which I need to repent? Is there some lesson I need to learn? If so, then I need to figure out what it is so I can go ahead and learn it!  
Certainly, there are consequences to sin, and self-examination with repentance is healthy in most any circumstance. But Job's example shows us these types of questions, which often badger us in the midst of long-term suffering, miss the entire point of what's truly going on. The answer to "Why?" in Job's case was simply the importance of God's testimony in the heavenly realm. 
There was no lesson Job needed to learn that led to him being chosen for suffering (though he certainly did learn some valuable lessons along the way). There was no flaw God was trying to correct and no sin of which God was leading him to repent. No, it was just God's testimony in the heavenly realm. It was completely about silencing Satan and not about Job's flaws or inadequacies. 
This is illustrated well in another story in which God clearly allows suffering—the raising of Lazarus in John 11:
"Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, 'Lord, he whom you love is ill.' But when Jesus heard it he said, 'This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.' Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was" (John 11:1-5).
"Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. ... Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said to him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world'” (vv. 17-27).
There are many intriguing facets of this story of suffering and redemption. I note in particular the wording of verses 5-6: Jesus loved them. I get that. But the connecting word “so” seems out of place. He loved them so He didn't go to heal Lazarus? That seems contradictory, yet that is exactly what the text says.
We know from the end of the story what God revealed to them about Himself, that Jesus was not just someone who believed in resurrection with them but was the actual One who holds life in His hand. By the end of the story, His love is clear—certainly because He healed Lazarus, but also because He showed Himself to be much, much bigger than they had understood to that point.  
Like the story of Job, nothing in John 11 is about Mary or Martha needing to do more (or to do less). God isn't chastising Martha for not being more of a student like Mary or Mary for not being a servant like Martha. He's not punishing them for asking for His help. He's not teaching them to ask for it more. He's just revealing something of Himself. And it was a beautiful thing for them all to know.
My takeaway for my own suffering is simple. Suffering isn't about punishing me. It's probably not much about sanctifying me—rooting out unknown sins and replacing them with more righteous behavior—though I will likely grow in grace through suffering. Yet Satan accuses me. He prompts me to self-examine well past what is healthy and God-honoring, leaving me plagued with thoughts of my own inadequacies and failures. 
In reality, what God most likely wants me to learn is just that He is good, and He gives life. In the meantime, I am best served simply resting in His arms until redemption breaks forth in the storm of my own struggles. 
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Rom. 8:18).
Adapted from Wendy Alsup's blog, theologyforwomen.org. Wendy has authored three books, including By His Wounds You Are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman's Identity. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women. 

Draw closer to God. Experience the presence of the Holy Spirit every month as you read Charisma magazine. Sign up now to get Charisma for as low as $1 per issue.

Get to know the Holy Spirit and how to interact with Him on a daily basis. Learn to enter God's presence and hear His voice clearly for yourself! Go deeper in your faith with Life in the Spirit and change your life and destiny. Are you ready to start your journey?

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Hillary Clinton

    What if Hillary Clinton Wins the White House?

    Polls have Mrs. Clinton leading by 11 points. The church must be prepared.

  • Holy Spirit prophetic

    7 Ways to Cultivate Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit

    Too many of God's people are led by fear, doubt, man-pleasing, presumption, assumption, idols ...

  • What if You Could Save $500 This Week?

    What if You Could Save $500 This Week?

    Start saving for emergencies today with the $500 Savings Challenge by brightpeak financial. It's chock-full of inspiration, great savings tips and the motivation to make a dent in your savings—for real! Go to 500savingschallenge.com to sign up!

  • Guarding the gates of your heart will keep the demonic and evil out of your life.

    Keep the Demonic Out of Your Life With This Oft-Overlooked Spiritual Warfare Strategy

    The enemy knows his limitations. Limit him.

  • Highway exit signs

    Prophetic Word: Watch for the Exit Signs to Light Up This Season

    Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty in the harvest fields. The "barnyard anointing" ...

  • There Are Times in History...

    There Are Times in History...

    While who becomes president is significant, the truth is, the change America desperately needs does not begin in Washington, D.C.

  • Finger pointing

    The Accuser vs. Donald Trump—and Us All

    This isn't a political persuasion piece, but a current-event case study in the strategies of ...

  • Passivity can be a real relationship killer.

    One Toxic Temptation Many Men Face—And How to Overcome It

    And no, it's not pornography or adultery.

  • Daily scripture reading, meditation and prayer can seem elusive with your busy schedule.

    10 Small Steps to Deeper Intimacy With Holy Spirit in Your Quiet Times

    If deep quiet times seem just out of your reach with your busy schedule, try one of these ...

  • Jezebel puppets

    10 Ways to Spot Jezebel's Spiritually Slick Undercover Con Artists

    It's time to stop tolerating Jezebel in all its many manifestations.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit