Sometimes, it is hard to see how God is present in our lives. In fact, He seems to be nowhere near us, possibly attending to other matters more pressing than our own worries and struggles.
Job knew that feeling. He knew what it was like to wonder why God let him suffer, when all of his life he had been faithful to obey Him. What he didn’t know was that he had been the recent topic of conversation between God and Satan. Satan comes into God’s presence in the first two chapters of the book of Job (I have to wonder how he summoned the nerve) and basically tells God if he strips Job of all that is dear to him (his possessions, his children, his health), Job will curse God. I find it interesting that Job’s wife remains untouched in all of this. Maybe she was not that much of a blessing? Anyway, Job is ruined, and he is ruined to prove a point. Satan cannot inflict any harm on us without God’s permission.
Here is my favorite example of this from Luke 22:
31″Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Satan asks God’s permission to sift Peter like wheat. But Jesus tells him that He has prayed for him, so that his faith may not fail. The next phrase leads us to believe that Peter for a time turned away from God; maybe he did not abandon his faith in Him, but he was sorely shaken by the sifting that Satan inflicted upon him. However, when he turns back, he comes back to his work and ministry with such conviction and determination that now he is the one who is strengthening his brothers.
God definitely allows some hard blows to fall on our heads, so much so that we can wish that we had never been born. But though his hand is heavy, it is good. And the “testing of our faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:3) Suffering exposes our weakness and our utter dependence on God. Suffering also equips us to help those friends down the road who are going through similar trials. Paul tells us in II Corinthians 1:5, “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”
Whenever you face insurmountable odds and troubles that threaten to shake you to the core, remember that nothing has come your way that God has not permitted, and He can use any suffering to produce maturity and strength in you in the very moment you feel completely weak and helpless. He is good that way.