It’s quite the funny story. Job’s faith through difficult circumstances has always inspired me, but the material felt somewhat unrelatable because I never really endured anything I considered difficult. And then everything changed this year. Hardship after hardship bombarded me like someone throwing rocks. It started with small pebbles and pretty soon, a boulder crushed me. I finally understood Job’s suffering.
I wasn’t ever really angry at God for the things I’ve experienced this past year, but I was definitely confused. I constantly asked God, why? Why did I suddenly develop food insensitivities when I could previously eat everything? Why did I go to the emergency room twice due to panic attacks and intense gastrointestinal pain? Why did I have to lose 13 pounds and develop medical complications in addition to my autoimmune illnesses? Why do I have to suffer when I’ve continually prayed for healing?
And then it hit me.
We studied the book of Job in my Wisdom and Poetic Literature Bible class last year. I couldn’t explain why, but God kept putting this story on my heart. I made a radical prayer request. I asked God to give me an incredible story that would touch others and draw them closer to him. And he answered. He told me that I indeed would have a story similar to Job’s. As many church leaders have told me, be careful what you pray for because God listens. I was sincere about my prayer request, yet I didn’t think it would take this form.
It wasn’t until I started talking with my dad and a few other people about my story and how I found comfort through it all as I read the book of Job. My dad and these people pointed out that my story is very similar to Job’s. And just as Job experienced curses before blessings, God is now starting to restore my health little by little. Just like Job, I questioned God and even tested him sometimes with my questions, but I still had faith that my life was in his hands despite the pain I faced. God also usually didn’t directly answer Job’s questions at the end of the book. In the same way, he reminded me that he is in control and that he rewards those who remain faithful.
Would I have prayed that same prayer if I knew how much suffering I’d endure? Although it’s difficult, I actually would. God has given me an incredible story that would not have happened if I didn’t have these autoimmune illnesses. I’ve developed a level of wisdom that I didn’t think was possible. I wouldn’t have gained this wisdom if life was all sunshine and rainbows.
Don’t doubt the power of the Almighty God. He will come through, just maybe not in the way you imagined. He listens to our requests, whether they’re big or small. Answers to these prayers may even come later when we’re not looking for them. Write down your prayer requests in a journal and revisit those entries each week, then each month. After you read them again, write down additional notes about how God has answered those requests in any way. The Lord is truly amazing and we often miss his work since we’re so busy. He’s generous and gives us what he asks if it’s according to his will. It’s time we had confidence in prayer requests.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:11 (NIV)