BY RACHEL NOBLE:
The book of Job can seem like a sad and dismal read. Chapter by chapter it seems we become more and more depressed as we read of Job’s despair. The book of Job details the tragedies that he faces and the accusations that he receives because of his misery. His friends automatically are convinced that it’s because of his sin that these tragedies have come to him, when in fact, it was the opposite. Job suffered because he was righteous before God.
After 40 chapters of misery, the book is completed with chapter 42. After spending over a month reading through Job, I read chapter 42 the other night and truly felt a sense of comfort. We see Job show humility before God. We see his “friends” get what’s been coming to them. We see things being set straight! What a happy ending! God blessed Job beyond what he previously had. He had monetary blessing and familial blessings and he lived a long and happy life!
We can be so near-sighted when it comes to our struggles in life. We can only see the pain that’s right in front of us. We forget that joy is awaiting the believer. In Job’s case it came (in part) in his earthly life. This will not be the case for all of us. Some of us suffer and won’t see God’s outpouring of blessing in this life. Some suffer in this life endlessly.
OUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT
But the good news of the gospel is that suffering and physical death for the believer actually and eventually brings joy. It brings us closer to the Lord and the eternal bliss that we will enjoy with HIM forever. No matter how you look at it, the Christian has a bright future, whether in this life or the next. We can always hold our heads high knowing that better days are coming. When struggles come and difficulties seem to choke out our joy, we can ALWAYS look to Christ. We can look ahead to the future that we have in Christ where we will spend eternity with Him where sin shall be no more!
For those who trust the gospel, the end of this life is entrance into perfection and communion with God. Death no longer stings because if we trust the gospel death means being with Christ. Even in the midst of suffering, our minds should be focused on Christ. Our future is bright and death is no longer scary for those who trust the gospel. “O death where is your victory. O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).
STRUGGLE LIKE PAUL
Paul displays his complete dependence in Christ when he says in Philippians chapter one: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better…” Paul’s future was bright no matter how he looked at it. He wanted to stay on earth to pursue ministry for the sake of the gospel and those he ministered to, but he also knew that death would bring him to Christ.
Do we ever struggle between these two things – 1) ministry in this life or 2) being with Christ in the next? I think if we’re honest, most of us wouldn’t want to do either (not right now anyway…we may want “heaven” in the future, but we’re obsessed with the world and our lives right now and wouldn’t want to be with Christ now). Our minds are focused on the next vacation or the next big event going on, our friends, our family, our house, our car, or our “big plans” for the future. This wouldn’t be the case if we truly set our minds on “things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col 3:1).
I want to have the mindset of Paul where my joy is Christ – whether through doing ministry in this life, or enjoying Christ forever in the next. Nothing else can bring true joy. Let’s press on to advance the kingdom until we are with HIM!
Rachel Noble is the Admissions Director and Volleyball Coach at Trinity College of Florida. She graduated from Trinity College in 2009. She serves at FBCWC alongside her husband Matt who is the Pastor of Young Adult Ministry. She blogs at pursuedwithpurpose.blogspot.com