What if I Just Don’t Have the Faith of Job?

I was reading this great piece by Dr. Gregory Popcak about how the way you were parented affects your experience of God. It’s a good read – I highly recommend it. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithonthecouch/2014/04/attachment-and-faith-style-how-parenting-affects-your-experience-of-god/

After I read it though, I was left with some questions. “So what if my parents were completely unattached and I grew up to be ‘fearful and avoidant?’ What then? What if it I just can’t trust God because of this?”

If you look at the figure of Job in light of this article, it would appear that he had perfect parents. He totally trusts God. He never utters a word against him. Yes, he curses the day he was born and he wishes he had never come into being, but he never says a single word against God.

Despite his insistence of innocence, His friends cannot believe that he could possibly be “blameless” in God’s sight. They sit there for days lecturing him on how he must have done something wrong. Nice friends.

Still, he maintains his innocence. He begs God to tell him what he did. He asks why it is that he is undergoing such profound suffering.

God is silent and does not answer.

What a story. It’s a real page-turner. There’s some real suspense as we wait for God to show up and “set things straight.”

And, there are so many things to be learned from Job. Amidst the most profound suffering, he trusts God completely, he waits patiently, he endures the endless, berating lectures of his friends who clearly believe themselves to be better than him, and still he does not say a word against his creator. What faith.

What is it that Job possesses? What allows him such tenacity through trials?

He has an authentic relationship with God. He doesn’t hide his feelings. He’s quite vocal in fact. Yet, he’s respectful at all times. Even when God is silent, he holds on and trusts that God hears him.  When God finally answers with a long and intimidating response (Job 38-41), Job replies. I am always floored by that line, “Job replied to Yahweh,” (Job 40:3). By that point, I would likely be cowering in a corner, but Job, always humble and respectful, answers God. He doesn’t run away from the relationship. Even after God has taken everything away from him, he’s still willing to talk it out with God and hear what He has to say.

He trusts God implicitly. Although he wonders why all of this hardship is befalling him, at no point does he lose his trust in God. Maintains his innocence, yes. Loses trust, no.

So what are we to do if we didn’t have perfect parents and, as a result, grow up unable to trust God? What if we just can’t get real with God because we are afraid He’s going to drop us like a hot potato? What if we just don’t have the faith of Job?

The obvious answer is counselling. Counselling can be tremendously helpful in helping us to grow and heal those areas of pain and lack that hold us back.

There are two other things that can also be incredibly helpful though too:

  1. Spending time with the Word of God. Sit with the Word of God. In Scripture, we can find the words that we may not have heard growing up. Hearing “I love you,” “you are my beloved son (or daughter),” “I have chosen you,” “I knew you from before you were born,” “I know your thoughts from afar (and I still love you),” can be incredibly comforting. The more time you spend with Scriptures, the more comfort you will get. The more you will understand that you are His beloved son or daughter. When you know this deep in your bones, you will be able to trust Him.
  2. Ask the Holy Spirit for help. As my wise spiritual director says, “ask the Spirit to pray through you…let the Spirit pray through you.” This is some of the most profound and fruitful spiritual advice I have ever received. When the Holy Spirit comes, great things happen – things that we could not orchestrate or plan, happen with great ease. The Holy Spirit can heal those areas of lack or hurt, those wounds that make it hard for us to trust and be real with God and with others. The Holy Spirit accomplishes within us that which we just cannot accomplish on our own without divine assistance.

So, if you find yourself struggling in your relationship with God, ask for God’s help. Approach in humility. Be patient. Ask God to help you have a more authentic relationship with Him. Immerse yourself in His Word and ask the Holy Spirit in. You will not be disappointed.

“Whenever the Spirit intervenes, he leaves people astonished. He brings about events of amazing newness; he radically changes persons and history” (Lumen Gentium, 12).

Francesca Battistelli, “Holy Spirit You are Welcome Here”

 

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2 thoughts on “What if I Just Don’t Have the Faith of Job?

  1. From the book of Job I noticed the different types of encounters and from each encounter we learn a lot. The first encounter was between God and Satan , the second encounter was between Stan and Job followed by Job and his friends or for that matter his wife and finally the best encounter was between God and Job. when we look at the last encounter, that was the stage where God transformed Jobs life for good. His life was restored and his blessings were doubled . In all these encounters specially in Job 33:13-18 – God spoke to Job through his Suffering. Similarly o say, God can speak even when our family system dysfunction. If we stand still God will get us to the place we planned for us. Look at the book of Job 42 :5-6 where Job said, ” My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. That was astonishing moment for Job. Let me share with you how my faith life was put to test and how God finally restore back again.
    I grew up in a Christian home. I went to church my entire life. During my early age, it was not as though I had a choice about going to church. My parents would have dragged me by the collar if I hadn’t walked with them. I never understood why I was going to church or who God was; then, I simply enjoyed playing with kids of my age. One of thing I heard over and over again from my parent was that God was my father. I always compare him with my biological father. I love my father. He was just more than a father to me. I trusted him with all my heart because he did everything he said and tried his best to make me happy. However, one day he promised something to me and failed keep his words. Literally he lied to me. Maybe he didn’t mean what he was said or he never thought that I took his words of promise seriously. Immediately, I felt like nothing was working and everything was out of whack, and consider that everybody was a layer including my father. I said to myself if my father fibbed to me, that mean my other father God is also lies. How can I trust God when my real father promised and not fulfil his promise? This affected me a lot. I was not as such excited to go to church, but as I mentioned, I never said to my family “no”. Even though, I do not trust God at the time, but I still go to church to play with my friends. One of the things I remember about Sunday church services was dressing in white clothes and watchfully walking to the sanctuary to keep my garments clean. But at the end of the service I was always return home wet and muddy clothes. This was a topic of discussion with my mom before getting my lunch. At a later stage of my life, around the age of eight, I started to participate in our church children’s choir. I don’t even remember if I had gone through confirmation classes. Every Sunday after the church service, my elder sister would say that she encountered God and that she was full of joy. I did not understand what she was talking about until I finally experience such an encounter when I was at high school. The entire time I was at elementary and middle school, I questioned myself “Why didn’t Jesus show himself to me?” At some point, I even would felt not to go to church because going there didn’t make any sense to me. I stopped participating in the choir. At the time, when I was in the high school I enjoyed the freedom of making my own choice. My family stopped dragging me to church.
    One Sunday morning, my friend invited me to his church that was located about three miles away from my house. As I didn’t want to offend my friend, I accepted his invitation. During worship time as everyone was worshiping the Lord, I stood like a statue. I was totally confused about my whole life and decided to give up my faith. In the midst of such an illusion, I heard a voice of the preacher. He was preaching on book of Hebrew 12:2 which say “Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” The preacher’s word that says “Trust in God! He has a control on everything” drew my attention. The preacher said …“God will therefore, take action in your troubled waters. If you fail to look to God in times of problems, the problems become worse and our adversary becomes happy. God is the only refuge in time of trouble.” I was at a crossroads, and I didn’t know the way out. But when I heard the word of God through the preacher, my life was transformed right way.
    That day’s service was one of the most impressive services I had ever attended in my entire life. It is very different, the way we worshiped, the way the sacrament was administered, and during that administration not a sound could be heard except the whispering wind moving in the church building that was unfinished. There was no distraction, no singing, and no speaking. Each one had an opportunity to search one’s self introspectively and to consider one’s own worthiness or unworthiness to partake of the sacrament. We meditated long enough that led us to spiritual communion with God through the Holy Spirit.
    The pastor gave especial attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion. I totally share his views to this day because I believe this meditation is the language of the soul and another form of prayer. That particular day, I heard and proclaimed God’s word as we a song, as our pastor expounded God’s word. God sent out a message to my heart speaking in a still voice through the preacher. I was energized with the power of the word. Within me, I felt the power of God fire me in such a way that I could not put into words. As we shared the bread and cup during communion, I felt that I was totally in a different place, an unusual place (a holy ground), where I encountered the Lord. I came to know Jesus differently than in my pervious experiences. The Hebrew writer says in 4:12; “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The power of the God’s word transformed me. I met with God through God’s word and it was the real encounter. My prayer life was changed. After that when I prayed, I didn’t just use habitual expressions with the same words and phrases I, considered praying like talking or having conversations with God. Today I talk to God about problems; I let God know my feelings, my doubts, my insecurities, my joys, my deepest desires. I usually take time to listen to the promptings of the Spirit.
    My sister told me that she encountered the presence of the Lord during the choirs singing and during the sacrament. Thus, I was limiting encountering God to the singing time and sacrament. However, from the experience of my encounter with God both of us understood encountering with God occurs in many ways.
    Since that time, my personal spiritual journey has taken me from the religious ignorance practice, to a committed life in Christ. I used to worship intuitively, or, as a matter of tradition, without thinking of the reason why. But as I came to know the reason to worship God, I started enjoying the essential element of the worship. There are many examples in the scriptures of blessings received through prayer; and in this dispensation, the blessings that came to me through the word of God is noteworthy.

    Personal encounter with the God is a living experience for oneself. Mary Magdalene experienced this encounter. Mary said, “I have seen the Lord”. This is a phrase from the gospel according to John. The Johannes community was perfectly familiar with this phrase. More so, Apostle Peter, who denied Jesus, was the first person to hear from the mouse of an ordinary woman. This phrase was the word spoken by Mary Magdalene who brought the good news to the anxious disciples. She did not intend to be the bearer of this news, she did not expect to be the one to change the world as we know it, but Christ sent her and she accept his calling. Mary had come to the tomb early on the first day of the week expecting to see a dead body, she left it with the promise that she would look upon His living face. Can you imagine her excitement?
    Mary ran into the house with the good news of resurrection to where the Apostles still remained in dismay. Mary proclaimed to them the joyous message, “I have seen the Lord!” This was the first preaching in the world about the Resurrection. This message completely turned the world upside down.
    Mary was not a leader, but merely someone in the crowd. Moreover, God used her to change the world.
    In conclusion, no matter how difficult our upbringings and the hardship situation we went through in life, when we truly encounter with God through the work of Holy Spirit we experiences our healing. The psalmist said, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.(Psalm 34:18).

    • Thank you for sharing, Berhanu. I really enjoyed hearing of your experience of God through the Word and your personal encounter with Jesus. And yes, I agree! The Holy Spirit is so important for healing in life and in lesding us in our journey of faith.

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