The Hebrew Scriptures (aka the “Old Testament”) include the story of a man named Jōb. In a matter of moments on one fateful day, he lost everything he had: flocks and herds, servants, sons and daughters. Lest someone offer the hopeless condolence, “well, at least you have your health,” that was taken from him, too, as painful, oozing sores broke out over his entire body. Even Jōb’s wife (who, let’s remember, had also lost all) considered death better than living with the loss.
Today we use Jōb as an example of patience and perseverance through suffering, the epitome of faith in the face of injustice. Ask the man in the midst, though, and you may get a different story.
Sure, Jōb may have been unwilling to “curse God and die,” but other curses weren’t far from his lips. He complained about the injustice. He cried out to face his accuser, knowing full well that none can win an argument with God. For unnumbered hours—days, perhaps—Jōb argues with his friends. He protests his innocence.
In a hundred ways, Job asks the single, simple question we all ask: “Why?”
But perhaps there is a different question. A better question. A question, perhaps, whose answer may even be more palatable than “why?”. (I’ve often wondered how Job would have responded had he known how his suffering came about.)
What is God forming in you?
It’s not an easy question to answer in the midst of the struggles; perhaps as difficult as the why question. But it is a question of anticipation, not despair; it looks forward, not back. It offers hope: the hope of transformation, of a butterfly’s metamorphosis.
The new green growth of spring follows the grey dormancy of winter—a grey, dismal season during which old leaves die and decompose, providing nutrients for the iris and tulips and lilies soon to come.
The miracle of healing shows God’s love and power—but healing can only happen when our bodies have first been ravaged by disease.
And the ultimate healing—resurrection—can only follow the most harrowing, hopeless winter of all: we can only be raised to new life after we have died. And in the resurrection we find ourselves seeing with new eyes, running with new legs, flying with new wings, loving with a new heart…trusting with new faith.
What is God forming in you this winter?