The Importance of Rest and Refreshing

I read a quote this morning that I brought a laugh. “Some people wake up feeling like a million bucks. Others wake up feeling like insufficient funds.”  The author of these poignanat words is unknown, but as a woman who suffers from chronic pain the idea they communicate is very familiar. I usually wake up feeling like I have insufficient funds to face a new day.

Last night was a typical one for me. I was feeling exhausted around 9pm, so I decided to lay down with my current novel and read and relax until my normal bedtime of 10:30pm. I read a few chapters, then my husband came down, rubbed my shoulders to help relieve the tension of a full day, and we prayed together. It was time to go to sleep.

I understand the importance of getting seven to eight hours of sleep at night, especially when dealing with the challenges of chronic illness, and I’ve worked this into my daily routine. But unfortunately, my body doesn’t always cooperate with this plan. Numbness and a pins and needles sensation in my feet from peripheral neuropathy, pain from arthritis in my shoulders and lower back, and chronic pain and sensitivity to touch in my left knee from a regional pain nerve disorder make it difficult to get to sleep and even more so to stay asleep. So when morning comes, even though I’ve usually spent eight-plus hours in bed, I don’t feel rested. 

Through trial and error, I have found several keys to living the best life I can with chronic illness and pain. When I wake up in the morning, I usually feel tired from a restless night. But I’ve learned that staying in bed at this time only increases the pain, so I choose to get up and start my day. If you live with chronic illness, you will need to figure out what works best for you personally. 

I set aside the first part of my day for refreshing myself, in body, soul, and spirit. 

  • I try to eat a simple but healthy breakfast, one that I can fix on my own and that provides the nutrients needed to nourish my body. 
  • While eating, I may listen to some encouraging worship music or use an audio Bible on Bible Gateway or the YouVersion Bible app to listen to the chapter for today’s Bible reading. 
  • Next, I spend an unrushed time in God’s presence, renewing my spirit through prayer, Bible reading and study. I follow a daily reading plan – many great ones are available online. I currently use the First5 devotional and Bible reading plan from Proverbs 31 ministries and a monthly topical reading program on a subject I feel is timely, such as Rachel WoJo’s April plan on Confident Trust. Some days, I do more in-depth Bible study, digging into one or more verses that stand out in my reading. The amount of time I set aside for this varies according to the schedule and responsibilities for the day, but whether it’s twenty minutes or two hours I make this my highest and first priority for the day. My relationship with God reinvigorated, I’m ready to face another day.
  • Finally, this time of refreshing comes to an end as I turn to our God-Living Girls with Chronic Illness Facebook page to interact with some friends who face the same daily battles I fight. I’ve learned the importance of community in this daily life with chronic illness, and this has become a time of both being encoraged and of encouraging others. I leave this morning time of being refreshed a little better prepared to face the rest of my day.

After my time of refreshing, it’s time to get busy with the other tasks for the day. I have two keys I apply to this: (1) I determine my top priorities for the day (which often means asking God to show me His top priorites for my day), and (2) I take breaks between tasks and whenever they are needed. And before I actually get to work, I ask God to supply the strength I need to fulfill His purposes for my day. As Christians, God has promised His strength in our weakness.

As the mother of a special needs child, the bookkeeper for our home-based business, a weekly blogger, and a regular contributor to God-Living Girls, I could easily feel pressured to do much more each day than I am now. But since my energy and stamina are limited, attempting too many tasks per day leads to exhaustion and even flares in my medical conditions that have the potential of landing me in bed for several days. 

Therefore, I usually plan no more than three tasks per day, two of which can be done in my recliner. For example, at least one day each week, I work on family paperwork. I may spend an hour working on the bank registers and paying bills, then take a break from the work that requires mental focus. Next, I may do a brief housework task, such as folding clean towels or emptying trash cans around the house. Later in the day, usually after lunch, I tackle the final task that I ‘ve planned for the day. 

At the end of the day, I almost always have undone tasks remaining, but those are for another day. I’ve set reasonable goals for my day, and usually I feel good in having accomplished what I planned. 
Finally, I’m learning to pay more attention to my body and to not do more than I can handle on any particular day. On some days when pain levels are especially high or I feel unusually fatigued, that means taking a full afternoon to rest. Even on relatively good days, I often run out of energy by mid or late afternoon. I’m learning that it’s okay to lay down and rest for an hour or two when this happens. If I’m extremely tired, I may take a short nap. I’m learning to listen to my body and adjust my schedule according to my strength and stamina for today.

Many of you who read my blog share my goal of living a Christ-honoring life with chronic illness. These are a few of the keys that have helped me live my best life with the limitations I currently face. God has made each of us differently, so what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. For those whose rest and strength is not hindered by pain and chronic conditions, understanding the need for rest and refreshing is still important. God made each of us with a need for rest, of body, soul, and spirit, and ignoring this part of our lives results in serious consequences. Ask God to show you how to meet this important need in the way perfectly fitting to where you are in life. And feel free to share some keys that have helped you reach a wise and healthy balance between work and rest in the comments section below.

Does Chronic Illness Have You Feeling Stuck?

I truly enjoy going to church when my health allows me to do so. But there is one thing other than poor health that frequently keeps me at home. Our front yard becomes like a mud pit when we have a heavy rain. For several days afterwards, I’m forced to stay in the house because going outside would result in my walker or wheelchair sinking down in the mud. I am physically stuck in the house until the sun comes out and dries the yard!

Since finishing my series on Job a couple weeks ago, I have been praying for God’s direction for this blog. Honestly, I’ve felt stuck. My desire is to write articles that will encourage those with chronic illness, but my prayers for direction were going nowhere. Then this morning, I sensed God speaking to my heart that I wasn’t the only one feeling stuck. This is something many Christians experience when facing circumstances we wish we could change but can’t. Whether the issues have to do with chronic illness or some other problem we are facing, feeling stuck is a common emotion.

Since this blog focuses on living a Christ-honoring life with chronic illness, I want to look at some of the positive steps we can take to become unstuck, that is to take hold of the hope that enables us to keep moving forward.


  1. Start with being honest with God about where you are. Admit to Him you feel stuck. Ask Him to show you the way out of the “miry clay” that is keeping you from moving forward.
  2. Overcome discouragement with prayer and praise. Oswald Chambers said, “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.”  And praise is one of the most effective ways to turn our focus onto the Lord. Praising God for who He is, reflecting on His attributes and names, enables us to see our circumstances in a clearer way. One of my favorite tools for this is a page I keep handy during my prayer time, 30 Days of Praying the Names and Attributes of God, put out by The Navigators. Use the following link to download this helpful tool. http://www.navigators.org/www_navigators_org/media/navigators/tools/Resources/Praying-the-Names-of-God-The-Navigators.pdf
  3. Ask God to speak to you through His Word. On days when you feel up to it, use one of the many online tools now available to do indepth Bible study. Two of my favorites are Bible Gateway and Blue Letter Bible, both available as an app and a website. But even on your not-so-good days, find a way to expose your mind and heart to God’s Word. On days that I find it difficult to focus on reading my Bible, I often listen to it being read, using a Bible app such as the YouVersion Bible app or one of the audio Bibles available on http://www.biblegateway.com. As I was doing some research on the chapter in 1 Samuel that was on today’s reading plan, I also discovered an informative series of videos on the YouVersion Bible app, put out by The Bible Project. There are brief annimated videos about every book of the Bible,  giving an overview of the book and of how it fits in God’s bigger picture, and others on specific topics. These videos are also available on YouTube (just search for The Bible Project and the name of the book or topic you are studying) and on https://thebibleproject.com/resources/
  4. Be a doer of the Word, not just one who hears or reads and then goes away unchanged. Ask God to show you specific ways He wants you to apply what you are learning. Remember these importsnt words from the apostle James, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James‬ ‭1:22-25‬ ‭NIV‬)
  5. Let go of the past. This includes both the bad and the good that used to be a part of our lives. Of course we need to let go of past failures and sin, and ask God to heal the hurts they caused. But on the other hand, chronic illness changes our lives dramatically. If we insist on holding onto our lives as they were pre-illness we will be disappointed. Our dreams and goals may need to change, or at least the way we seek to fulfil them. 
  6. Accept your current limitations. Common symptoms of chronic illness include reduced energy levels, increased pain, amd difficulty focusing on things. If we insist on continuing our activities at the same level we did them before becoming ill, we will fail to meet our goals and end up extremely frustrated. 
  7. Look for new ways to meet your goals. This applies to simple tasks such as taking care of our homes, but it also applies to larger life goals. For example, before my chronic illnesses became disabling, I enjoyed leading ladies Bible study groups in our church.  I found teaching God’s Word and encouraging other ladies very fulfilling. Today, since I am not able to drive or even leave the home without my husband’s help, I am no longer able to do this to add meaning to my life. So I began asking God to show me another way to experience fulfilment. It didn’t happen overnight, but I am now finding the same degree of fulfilment in my role with God-Living Girls with Chronic Illness, as a part of the teaching team for that ministry. Though illness closed some doors, continuing to pray and seek God led to some new open doors beyond anything I had expected or previously experienced. Now, instead of touching the lives of a dozen women in my church Bible study group once a week, I have the privilege of sharing almost daily with a group of 375 ladies needing encouragement in their walk with the Lord.

This Sunday, if the current weather forecast is correct, may be another day of being stuck in the house when I really want to be at church. But even if this happens, I don’t need to give into feelings of being stuck. I can instead choose to take hold of the hope that lies before me and keep moving forward in my walk with the Lord. No matter what has you feeling stuck, my desire is for you to join me in this commitment to not allow feelings of being stuck to detour me from walking forward into God’s good plan.

    Judgment Begins at the House of God

    America is in trouble! This is a message being spoken by Christian leaders all over our nation, from Billy Graham to Pat Robertson, from John MacArthur to Steve Strang (founder and president of Charisma Magazine). All of these believe that America is in danger of coming under the judgment of God. Many believe this judgment has already begun.

    Signs are clear that America has lost its moral compass. According to an article on CBN.com, since 1960, crime in the United States of America has increased by 371%, with juvenile crime up 920% since 1985. The homocide rate is the highest of any industrialized nation. The U.S. is now the world leader in divorce, teenage pregnancy, voluntary abortion, and illegal drug use.

    Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham and Chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer, says America has gone astray. She is among those who have been crying out an alarm. “We live in a nation that has lost its soul. Our abundance has led to greed. Our freedom has become license to turn away from God and pursue the role of the prodigal. Our national religious heritage is being forgotten or ridiculed as irrelevant or old fashioned.” She added, “America has become one of the most sinful nations in the world. We have done more to destroy the morality of other countries than any nation in history. We have become the single greatest market on the globe for illegal drugs, and we lead the world in exporting pornographic magazines and films.”

    So where is the church of Jesus Christ in the midst of this widespread moral decay in our nation? As many as 70 million Americans go by the name “Christian,” so why isn’t the church having a positive influence on our culture as a whole? Could it be because we have become so much like the world around us that we no longer have the ability to be the seasoning and preserving salt that Jesus called us as His followers to be? That we no longer shine a light on the corruption in our nation because that same corruption has invaded the church?  I agree with syndicated newspaper columnist Cal Thomas who recently wrote, “The Church needs fixing too… much of America’s major social problems can be put at the feet of the undisciplined, biblically ignorant, disobedient, uninformed, uncommitted, lethargic church.”

    One reason for the condition of today’s church is that the church as a whole has abandoned the Scriptures and is preaching what Paul referred to in Galatians 1::6 as “another gospel.”  If Paul were alive and in America today, I believe he would again say, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:” (‭‭Galatians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭KJV‬‬)

    Many churches today preach what David Wilkerson called “an accommodating gospel,” one that is willing to do whatever is needed to make unbelievers feel comfortable. Instead of preaching the necessity of repentance and death to self, these churches exclusively emphasize God’s love and grace. Love and grace are definitely a part of the gospel, but so are God’s discipline and judgment.

    In fact, 1 Peter 4:17-18 makes it clear that God’s judgment of a nation will begin among His people. “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:17-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

    So, in light of this truth, is there any hope for the American church? YES! But that hope will come with change. Here are a few of the things that need to change.

    • Christians need to return to God’s Word, the Bible. A recent article on Foxnews.com declared America is now biblically illiterate. “Most Christians know enough about the Bible to be dangerous. The Bible in America is a massive industry ($2.5 billion) yet it is the best seller few read and fewer understand.” Change in our nation will require Christians to believe God speaks to us through the Bible and to remain in the Word daily.
    • James 1:22-25 makes it clear that just hearing (or reading) the Bible isn’t enough. We must begin to see it as our guidebook on how we are to live. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
    • As the church of Jesus Christ, it is our responsibilty to pray for our nation. Pray for repentance and forgiveness, beginning with God’s people. “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chr. 7:14).
    • Finally, Jesus’ church must love Him more than the things of this world. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

    It is sobering to realize that we can no longer honestly call ourselves “one nation under God.” If we want to see that once again true, the change must begin with God’s people. As Jesus said, His true church will know what it is to be hated by the world. “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (‭‭John‬ ‭15:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

    Lessons From Job: God Speaks

    For much of the book of Job, the main character in the story has been asking for an audience with God. In these final chapters of the book, when Job has come to the end of his own strength and understanding, the Lord begins speaking to Job out of a whirlwind. But I don’t think the words were what Job was expecting!

    “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge. Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” (Job 38:2-3 NIV)

    What follows is a rebuke from the Lord. Through a series of questions, God basically puts Job in his place. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? … Have you ever given orders to the morning? … Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? … Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?” These are just a few of the questions God addresses to Job, demanding an answer. And Job, who has had plenty to say in the past thirty-plus chapters, is reduced to silence.

    The Lord’s questioning of Job is broad and detailed. It includes questions about the Creation, the weather, light and darkness, stars and constellations, and a wide variety of animals. So what was God’s purpose in asking all these questions? I bleieve He was wanting Job to be reminded of Who he was condemning with his words. He wanted Job to be reminded of His power and authority. And He wanted Job to come to the place of humbling himself in repentance. 

    Where the words of Job’s friends may have been with the same desire, to bring Job to repentance, their method of reaching that goal was wrong. Instead of pointing out to Job all he had done wrong, God reminded Job of Who He is. Jehovah God is Creator, and He is the One who was and is and will always be in control.  Job’s eyes had become so focused on his trials that he had lost sight of this essential truth. And his faith in God and trust in His love and faithfulness had been weakened by his focus on his troubles. 

    By the time God finished questioning Job, he was more than ready to admit that God can do whatever He desires, and no purpose of His can be thwarted (Job 42:1-2). He confessed, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”  (Job 42:3)  Jobs response is one of sorrow over his sin and repentance.

    With Job now repentant, the Lord begins addressing Eliphaz as the representative of Job’s three friends.  We learn that they had angered the Lord by saying things that were not right about Him. What had they spoken in error against the Lord? The book of Job does not specifically answer this question, so I won’t speculate about this. But we do see them doing what the Lord commanded. “So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering?” (Job 42:8)

    Further evidence of Job’s repentance is seen as he also accepts God’s solution and prays for his friends. After the unkind and accusatory words they had spoken to Job, this could not have been easy. But in praying for his friends, Job was healed and his fortunes restored, even receiving twice as much as he had before. And verse 12a says, “The Lord blessed the later part of Job’s life more than the former part.”

    So to conclude this week’s lesson from Job, what truths are we to take away and apply to our lives?

    1.  First, when we walk through seasons of pain and suffering, we need to keep our focus on what we know to be true about God. Job entered this time of trial with an understanding of the authority and sovereignty of God, as shown through his own words. For example, in chapter 2 when his wife tells him to curse God and die, he responds, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (verse 10). Job understood that God was still in control. Yet, as the trials dragged on and on, Job lost sight of this truth. 
    2. Next, when we face times of suffering, we need to be especially diligent about guarding our words. The temptation to wrongly accuse God will be there, and we need to guard against this sin and repent if we catch ourselves falling. Being honest with the Lord about how we’re feeling is okay, but accusing Him of being unfair or cruel is not. One of the main things God desires from us when we are hurting is the choice to continue trusting Him.
    3. Forgiving those who hurt us with their unkind words is an importsnt step toward healing. Just as the Lord healed and restored Job when he forgave his friends who had so deeply hurt him, He will bring healing and restoration into our lives when we forgive those who have hurt us by their words and actions. I wish that always meant total physical healing. Often it may, but even if God is currently more concerned with making us whole in other areas this process of forgiveness brings healing.
    4. Finally, Job makes a very important statement near the end of the book. In Job 42:5, Job concludes his response to God with these words: “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”  


    This is my own persoanl testimony of the benefit of suffering in my life. Through the variety of trials I’ve faced, I have come to really know God. My knowledge of Him is now more than just what I’ve read or heard from others. 

    • As I endured the suffering of losing a child, I better understood how much it cost the Father to offer His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sin. “For God so loved the world” took on new meaning.
    • By loving a son who is completely dependent upon others to meet all of his needs, I’ve learned much about God’s unconditional love. Our son David can’t do anything to earn our love, and we can’t do anything to earn God’s love. It is His gift!
    • And through the suffering from a long list of chronic illnesses, I’ve learned that God is just waiting for me to come to Him with my needs. I’m learning that He is my strength in weakness, my peace in turmoil, and my joy in sorrow. He is all I need, no matter what I face!

    This concludes our study of Job. I hope you’ve learned as much through it as I have. I hope you too can sum up this study with Job’s closing words: “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”


      Spoons and the Savior

      I believe the “spoon theory” has some validity. It is true, if you suffer with a disability or chronic illness, you have a limited amount of energy available and need to plan your day around how difficult each task is for you to complete. This theory says you wake up each day with a set of spoons. Spoons equal energy and ability to do tasks. Each activity costs you a certain number of spoons, and when they are gone you’re done for the day.

      While I understand the rational behind the spoon theory, it has one major flaw – it leaves God out of the formula. Yes, it’s wise not to overdo it on any particular day, but if God has purposes for us to fulfill He can add supernatural grace and strength to what we lack. Enjoy reading this guest post, written by Jerusha Borden, a fellow member of God-Living Girls.

      *****************************
      The last time I saw my older brother, I was being wheeled away in a wheelchair. I’d been visiting him and his wife while in the city for a medical appointment, and I was heading home. Excited to see my boys, I woke up early only to discover searing pain in my body, especially my back. It was so awful, I couldn’t even stand up.

      I knew my plane was leaving at a certain time, and I only had a few minutes to get washed, dressed and pack up my things. But in that moment, I couldn’t imagine doing any of it.
      Have you ever heard of the spoon theory? As it goes, if you suffer with a disability or chronic illness, you wake up each day with a set of spoons. Spoons equal energy and ability to do tasks. Each activity costs you a certain number of spoons. Getting dressed may be one spoon, for others five. Running an errand can costs several spoons. Exercise often costs the greatest amount of spoons. And when you run out of spoons, that’s it. You’re done for the day.

      So what happens when you wake up with zero spoons? It certainly felt like it for me. I couldn’t move. I lay on my back in the guest room panicking. What was I going to do?

      Sometimes we are slow to turn to God for help, and other times we aren’t. Usually when pain is present I our lives, we are much less likely to forget. So as I lay there, with only about thirty minutes to get out of bed and out the door, I called out to God for help.

      God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

      I’m not used to God moving quickly. Perhaps that’s my lack of faith showing through. But this is the fastest a prayer has ever been answered in my life. As soon as I finished praying for help, I gathered all my strength and stood up. It hurt like I can’t even describe.

      Letting out a deep breath, I prayed for help again. I washed up and got dressed. The pain was great but God was greater. I felt His presence as He helped me accomplish these small things. A few minutes later my brother knocked on the door to tell me it was time to go. I told him I felt like I was dying and asked if he had any Advil. He came back with a cold bottle of water and a handful of pain meds. As I downed them, I prayed they would work fast.

      God heard me again. As I hobbled to the car, the pain was great but I managed to get in. As we navigated through the airport, it felt less. Relief came as a support personal opened up a wheelchair and I sat down. I don’t love using a wheelchair. It makes me feel embarrassed, being the size I am. I’m always afraid of what people will think of me. I don’t know why spectator opinions matterso much to me. I’m working on that.

      But, sitting helplessly in a wheelchair drugged up on pain meds is how my brother saw me last. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the negative. I could dwell on how it made me sad to see him walking off with the image of a somewhat crippled sister changing his image of a once agile sister who could bicycle as fast as he could. A sister who once jumped with him on trampolines. A sister who raced him up the hill after rolling down.A sister who could walk.

      Yes, I could get caught up in that. And sometimes, I do. Reality is it hurts when you look back over the life changes that occur when your body goes through something unnatural. But there’s something else at work here. Where there’s the unnatural, there’s also the supernatural. And I’m not talking about science fiction.


      Here’s the thing. The Saviour debunks the spoon theory every day. When we cry out to Him for help, He is there. Somehow on the day when I couldn’t move, I flew home, went grocery shopping and visited some friends. Normally, doing any one of those things would liquidate my short supply of spoons. But not when God intervenes. Through His power, my weaknesses are made strong. Through his power that day, my supply of spoons multiplied. In fact, I didn’t think about my energy level at all that day.

      I think about that day often. I think about it when I’ve been standing too long and my legs ache with fire. I think about it after I’ve run errands and I’m recouperating in the couch. I remember my cry for help, and His beautiful provision. It still blows my mind I managed to get on that plane.

      God allowed Naomi’s suffering to give birth to her greatest joy.He wants to help you when you’re weary. He wants to fill you up when you’re empty. His loving kindness is better than any spoon you’ll ever find. Relying on him is the only way you can leave your spoons behind.

      That day in the airport, I was wheeled to a spot where I’d wait to get taken to the plane. The support personnel laid my bags on the floor next to me and said someone would be there to help me with them for boarding. Normally, I’d grab my phone and scroll through Facebook or browse through Pinterest while I was waiting. I couldn’t because my bag was out of reach. As I sat there, feeling vulnerable and alone, I witnessed something I might have missed with my phone in hand. A beautiful, spectacular autumn morning sunrise. As the sun rose up past office buildings and skyscrapers, it took my breath away.

      Jesus fills our every need. Who knew that morning my greatest need was abandon my spoons and wake up with the sun?

      Lessons From Job: Elihu Defends God

      In Job 32, we are introduced to another person who has apparently been there listening to everything Job’s friends – Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar – have said.  We learn he was a young man, and because of this he had waited for the older and supposedly wiser friends of Job to finish before he chose to add his input to the conversation. But he was now angry at what he had heard and felt compelled to speak.

      In Job 32-37, we learn what Elihu has to say.

      • Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar blamed Job’s suffering on some past sins, which Job consistently denied. Elihu, however, focuses on Job’s present sin, that of speaking wrongly of God during his suffering. In this, Elihu was correct. 
      • While Job’s friends were focused on proving he deserved what had happened to him, Elihu was more concerning with defending God. He wanted Job to see that the things he was speaking against God were wrong.
      • One of the greatest tests we face in suffering is continuing to trust God’s love and goodness when we don’t understand why we are hurting. God did not answer Job’s “why?” questions, and Job had become angry at Him, accusing Him of denying him justice and making his life bitter (Job 27:2). 
      • Much of what Elihu says is basically repeating some of Job’s own words back to him. For example, in Job 13:23-24, Job said to God, “How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin. Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy.” Elihu paraphrases this in saying (Job 33:8-10), “But you have said in my hearing – I heard the very words – I am pure, I have done no wrong; I am clean and free from sin. Yet God has found fault with me; he considers me his enemy.”
      • Even though much of what Elihu said was correct, his words cannot all be taken as truth. For example, Elihu proclaims that God is answering Job’s questions – such as, “God, why is this happening to me?” – but Job just wasn’t listening (Job 33:13-14). This was not true. Even when God begins speaking to Job in the final chapters of the book, He does not answer Job’s whys.

      (For more on God’s failure to answer Job’s whys, see last week’s article: https://readywriterbr.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/lessons-from-job-why-the-question-god-didnt-answer-for-job)

        So what can we learn by reading Job 32-37, where Elihu is speaking?

        1. Even when we have a wealth of Bible knowledge, like Elihu we will fall short in our attempts to understand the complexities of our own or others’ difficult circumstances. 
        2. Choosing to walk in faith in areas where we lack understanding is more important than having an explanation of what is going on.
        3. To place our faith in a person, we must first know he or she is trustworthy. Trials will touch our lives. No one is exempt. The best way to prepare ourselves to walk in faith when the tests come is to spend time in God’s Word, getting to know Him better. 
        4. Perhaps Elihu’s biggest mistake was having TOO MUCH to say. His monologue lasts through six chapters. Psalm 141:3 (NIV) says, “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” This is advice Elihu would have been wise to have followed. 


        Elihu had many words to share with Job, some wise and others not so wise.  He had a better understanding of the situation than Job’s friends, but not a perfect one. He rightly corrected Job for his wrong attitude toward God, yet not all he said was true.

         The only one with perfect understanding is almighty God, and next week we’ll look at what He said to Job. In the meantime, guard against allowing bitterness against God to take root in your heart (Hebrews 12:15) when you don’t understand your circumstances. Learn from Elihu that saying too much can be a bigger problem than saying too little. And if you find yourself in a place where you feel you need to speak with someone concerning their response to suffering, use your words sparingly, wisely, and with grace.

        Lessons From Job: Why? The Question God Didn’t Answer for Job

        WHY? A little word, but a big cry from the hearts and minds of those who suffer. I know it’s a question I’ve asked many times in the suffering that has touched my life.

        Why did God allow the accident that took the life of our firstborn Teresa and left me with life-altering disabilities?  Why was our son David born with major birth defects resulting in profound mental retardation? Why did God stop David’s Massive Infantile Spasms when the elders from our church prayed for him but not heal the damage already done? None of my why questions have been answered. 

        Why was also the primary question asked by Job and his friends. Job’s friends had their own answers to the why question, but their conclusions were wrong. This man of faith, integrity, and endurance wanted to know WHY, but that’s one question God does not answer in the book of Job.

        While in many of Job’s comments the word why is implied rather than actually spoken, these are some specific whys Job asks:

        • Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb? Why were there knees to receive me and breasts that I might be nursed?” ( Job‬ ‭3:11-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
        • Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul,” (Job‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
        • Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” (‭‭Job‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭NIV‬)
        • Why have you made me your target? … Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?”  (‭‭Job‬ 7:20b, 21a)
        • Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” (‭‭Job‬ ‭13:24‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
        • Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?” (Job‬ ‭21:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

        And I could go on. But the key understanding I want to emphasize is that none of these questions are answered in the book of Job. Other passages in the Bible do address some of these issues, but God did not answer any of them in relation to Job’s suffering. 

        So what can we learn from Job’s words in the book written about his life?

        1. God does not condemn us when we cry out to Him in honesty when we face suffering. We are currently doing a study in God-Living Girls with Chronic Illness on the book Discovering Hope: Beginning the Journey Toward Hope in Chronic Illness, by Cindee Snider Re. This week’s study included a section called “Exploring Lament.” In it, Cindee defines lament as “a necessary strand in our story, a vital thread in the fabric of our faith, and an honest Biblical expression of pain.” She adds, “True lament isn’t an expression of weakness, whining or self-pity. It’s an authentic expression of faith.”
        2. While Job did sometimes pass the invisible line between biblical lament as self-pity, his words in these chapters also include “authentic expression(s) of faith.” 
        • Job held onto his belief in God’s mercy. “How then can I dispute with him? How can I find words to argue with him? Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.” (‭‭Job‬ ‭9:14-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
        • He did not completely let go of hope. “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” (Job‬ ‭13:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
        • Job continued to believe in God as his redeemer. “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;” (‭‭Job‬ ‭19:25-26‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
        • And finally, Job trusted that his trials would not last forever; they would accomplish their purpose, and then they would end. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (‭‭Job‬ ‭23:10‬ ‭NIV)‬‬

        As we study the book of Job together, I hope you are learning some new truths from these chapters. Job definitely did not handle his overwhelming suffering perfectly – and none of us who face intense trials will either. But from these chapters on Job’s responses to his accusers and conversation with his Maker, I hope you’ll take away three things: 

        1. God doesn’t condemn us for our whys, but He also may not answer these questions.  
        2. When God doesn’t answer our whys, we need to make the choice to trust Him without understanding.  
        3. Honest lament expressed with faith is a biblical way to deal with the emotional turmoil caused by a life filled with trials. 

        Whether you personally live with chronic illness, are currently experiencing other forms of suffering or have in the past, or simply know others who are facing extremely painful circumstances in their lives and want to be able to effectively minister to them, my prayer is that these principles I’ve shared will help you in your individual situation.