When I consider Job, my mind immediately goes to suffering. With this in mind, I have some Scripture verses (and my story to go with) that I would like to share and in doing so, hopefully encourage you.
When I was in a time of deep grief after suffering loss, I attended a one-day workshop with times of both teaching and personal reflection. During one of those times, the pastor leading us sent us out to reflect upon Isaiah 43:18-19: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
When I sat with those verses, all I saw was wilderness and wasteland. I could not see any new thing springing up. The depth of my grief and distress was great. This promise of new things - of beauty coming to wilderness and life coming to deserts - I could not see it or even how it could be possible. Even so, I felt as though God meant those words for me, even in a time when I was not sure I would experience joy on this side of heaven ever again. I hurt so much. I was suffering when I had acted in obedience to what I believed God wanted me to do. Why?
From Job's experience, I am comforted that suffering is not always punishment. If Job - who was blameless and upright in all his ways - suffered so greatly, if Job asked the Lord "why?" and never received an answer - then I am not alone when I experience loss and pain. I am not alone if I receive no more answer to my questioning "why?" than to read "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Even more than finding myself in familiar company with Job, what great comfort it is to hear Jesus' own words: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33b). I will experience suffering, but Jesus will be with me. In the Psalms I read further promises: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18) and "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me" (Psalm 23:4a).
While I do not yet know if the LORD has fully revealed what "new thing" He has for me - there has been a way through the wilderness. There have been streams in the wasteland. And it is most certainly true when God says: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:1b-3a).