Imagine this scene with me for a minute. Satan comes to seek an audience with the Lord, but before he can say a word, the Lord says, “Have you seen My servant, Jamie?” (Actually, it’s probably best if you insert your own name there and fill in with the appropriate pronouns below.) “Have you seen My servant, _________?” There is no one like this beloved child of Mine in all the earth.” That’s the kind of thing He would say about you, too. I mean, if He says it about me, He would definitely say it about you.

Satan replies, “Of course You think this one is special. You’ve stacked the deck. The odds are all in her favor. She can’t help but be amazing.” Satan is clearly irritated. You would be, too, if you set yourself up as God’s enemy.

With a knowing grin on His face, the Lord thinks to Himself, True, true. There is no denying that. You see, the Lord knows that what He said about another one of His favorites is true about you and me, too. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you [and approved of you as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own] (Jeremiah 1:5 AMP). We each were formed, known, approved, chosen, and consecrated (set apart for a sacred purpose) years ago. We each are important to God, and He doesn’t let anyone take what belongs to Him.

The Lord has great confidence in what He has placed in each of His children and great confidence in His ability to defend and protect that treasure. Satan continues his temper tantrum, “Let me have at her. I will prove to You that I can destroy her. I will ruin what You have made…what You think is so special…what You are so proud of.”

The Lord has great confidence in what He has placed in each of His children and great confidence in His ability to defend and protect that treasure.

“Give it a try, if you think you can. Only I maintain the right to pull the plug when I see fit.”

It doesn’t feel great to be the devil’s punching bag. When life gets hard, sometimes beyond hard, it can even feel like the Lord is complicit in the beating. Why doesn’t He stop it? Doesn’t He care? What did I do wrong? Am I supposed to be smiling through all this and calling it good? Lord, you expect too much!

It can even feel like the Lord is complicit in the beating…
Lord, you expect too much!

What do we do with suffering? I think it is one of the toughest questions there is, and there are no simple answers, at least none that have satisfied me. When you’re getting the tar beaten out of you, the Scripture, God works all things for good, feels like rubbing salt in the wound at best, and more likely, turning the knife that is protruding from your heart. While the verse is clearly true, it does not help in the middle of the pain. In fact, it short-circuits the process. If we try to get someone to deny their pain, all we really do is get them to deny it with us. I imagine most of us are guilty of this. Our motives are often good – we’re so desperate to see them feel better. We just don’t know what else to do.

If we try to get someone to deny their pain,
all we really do is get them to deny it with us.

Allowing a person to cry out like Jesus did, My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? (without arguing with them and pointing out to them that it is not theologically accurate) would be a good place to start. More likely, you’ll have to listen to them being overly dramatic, angry, bitter, choosing colorful language, sounding irrational, playing the victim, or all of the above. Trusting the Holy Spirit to move them from their cry of despair to a hopeful declaration of trust in God feels somewhat risky. How long must we wait between their complaint and their awareness of God’s goodness? I’m sad to say, but it’s usually longer than we are comfortable with. Shoot, God let Job and his friends go at it until chapter 38.

Trusting the Holy Spirit to move them from their cry of despair
to a hopeful declaration of trust in God feels somewhat risky.

Now, I know that Job’s friends usually get a pretty bad rap for their unhelpful advice. If you’ve ever had a friend in deep despair for a long time, you can probably have some compassion for Job’s friends. It’s a hard business walking closely with someone in that depth of pain. To their credit, they sat in silence with Job for seven days. Seven days! Most of us can barely last seven minutes. You can hardly blame them for moving along to theological mumbo-jumbo and speculations about why this was happening. Trouble shoot or wax theoretical. We are prone to the same thing, don’t you think?

Eventually God came in and put them out of their misery. Isn’t that what we’re really waiting for – God to step in and make a difference? Every good gift comes from above. Every relief from a trial. Every wise word spoken. Every minute we are able to spend in silence with someone who is hurting. All are a gift. I often find that I wish I had a few more of those gifts, but at the end of the day, God knows what is needed and when. And He will not allow Satan (or even our well-meaning friends) to go one inch farther than He sees fit.

As much as I’ve struggled (and I could tell some stories), God has always stopped it. Maybe not as quickly as I would like (that would have to have been immediately), but He always stopped it. I rest assured that the challenges I am still facing will eventually come to an end as well. Jesus already won my victory, my forgiveness, my healing, my resurrection. It’s a done deal. And there’s nothing the devil can do about it, hard as he might try. For today, then, I’m learning to relax into His presence, and I am awaiting the day when I see the rest of His work completed.

“Have you seen My servant, Jamie? There is no one like her in all the earth.”

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