Dare Mighty Things!

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt 

There’s something about that quote that stirs me to the core of my being! Who wants to “rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat”?

The problem is that people get stuck. Behavioral patterns for a day, soon become those for a week, and then a month, and then a year, and so forth. Suddenly, a person wakes up one morning realizing they’re no further along than they were 10, 20, or 30 years before.

That’s tragic!

The definition of insanity: “doing what we’ve always done, yet expecting different results” has become merely a cliché. We glibly acknowledge its truth, but don’t act on it.

Stop! No, really! We cannot continue doing the same things we’ve always done and expect different results!

But we’re afraid. We’re cautious. We’re careful. We reason that our hesitations are prudent and wise, only to discover that perhaps we too “rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

As we embark on 2015, perhaps you find yourself living too much “in a gray twilight.” What characterizes your life, your relationships, and your pursuits? Do you find that you “neither enjoy nor suffer much?”

If so, coaching may be just the leverage and impetus you need to dare some mighty thing. This is one of the things I love about coaching; it leaves no one in that “gray twilight,” but challenges, empowers and equips to “dare mighty things.”

How about it? Give coaching a try in 2015. Call, text or email me to get started meeting with your personal coach.

Rob Fischer

 

Proud to Be a Vet!

Rob militaryFrom 1972 to 1975 I had the privilege of serving in the United States Army. I had not planned to serve in the military, but when I received my draft notice I had no regrets or hesitation. I counted it an honor to serve my country.

Since I was going into the Army anyway, I decided to enlist for a third year. The Army trained me as a German linguist and stationed me in Berlin for two years. Berlin was still an occupied city 200 km behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany at the time.

While in Berlin, on two separate occasions, German men saw me in uniform, approached me and warmly shook my hand thanking me for being there to help protect them from the threat of Russia. Those men, who had lived through WW2, were extremely grateful to the US and for our presence. Never have I been more proud to be an American!

As is often the case, my military training in German became very useful back in civilian life. And some years later, my wife and I headed to Austria to serve as missionaries. In Austria, time and time again, the WW2 generation expressed their gratitude to me as an American for what our country had done for them.

One Austrian man told me with tears in his eyes that he, his mom and brother would not be alive today had it not been for the Americans who fed and clothed them following the war. He said the first time he ever tasted chocolate was as a gift from a US soldier.

An Austrian woman reflected on the post-war days with fondness for the generous and respectable way that Americans treated her and her family. She added that other nations were raping and pillaging, while the American GIs protected, fed and cared for them. Again, my chest swelled with pride to be an American!

As we celebrate another Veteran’s Day, remember the values and Christian character that have guided us as a nation and as men and women in the Armed Services. We have a strong moral heritage to live up to as we represent our great country throughout the world. May we continually seek God and His favor. God, please bless America!

Rob Fischer

 

What’s God Doing in Your Life?

Frequently, I ask the question of others and myself, “What’s God doing in your life?”

If that question immediately prompts guilt, I urge you, don’t even go there! When I ask this question, the purpose is not to incite guilt, but to promote love and prompt a sense of expectation and trust.

As followers of Christ, we daily look to Him to meet our needs, conform us to His image, and use us to serve others. Jesus described our life in Him like a living, fruit-producing branch on a grape vine (John 13). “In Him we live and move and have our being,” (Acts 17:28).

He has equipped us with His Word, indwells us by His Spirit, and converses with us through prayer. He has given us everything we need for living a godly life and experiencing His presence (2 Peter 1:3-8).

In view of all this, what is God doing in your life? What are you trusting Him for right now? In what ways is He speaking to you? What does He want to change in you? What’s keeping you from enjoying Him fully?

Perhaps you’re suffering physically or emotionally right now. In what ways is God extending you comfort and encouragement? How is He making His presence known? What depths of His love have you explored more intimately through your suffering?

Or maybe you’re enjoying unprecedented blessing. How is this abundance stimulating you to worship and thank Him? Who are you blessing in your abundance? How do you stay focused on God? In what ways has He given you freedom to enjoy the things that He has freely given you?

If you were to ask me this question right now, I’d hardly know where to begin! God has recently humbled me to ask for prayer about an infected tooth that stubbornly refused to heal. Through the prayers of others, the tooth has finally prevailed!

He also revealed my impatience with others that I know He would never display toward me. I want to shed that and be like Him! He is also challenging me to ask Him to bless me in ways that I have been hesitant to ask Him for in the past.

God has also shown me lately the many ways in which He has favored me with my wife, children, grandchildren and friends. God is so good! I am pursuing Him and pressing into Him. He is changing me.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, however you’re feeling—what’s God doing in your life?

Clearing the Fog around Coaching

The term coaching is thrown around a lot these days, but with a wide variety of meanings. I’d like to generate a little wind to try to clear away the fog around coaching!

In order to look at coaching simply, let me suggest that there are three primary types of coaches: the skills coach, the mentor coach, and the professional coach. All three types of coaches are valid and helpful within the bounds of what they’re designed to do.

The Skills Coach

Sports coaches, personal trainers, voice coaches, and real estate coaches fall into this category. These coaches are generally trained in a specific skill in which an individual wishes to improve. The skills coach may or may not have had any training in coaching skills. Their singular expertise qualifies them as a coach. We can improve in any sport, or other highly skilled activity by engaging a skills coach.

Characteristics of skills coaching include:

  • Heavy instruction
  • Highly directive, coach-led
  • Narrow focus on a skill
  • The individual submits to the direction of their skills coach
  • Usually a formal arrangement

The skills coach says, “Do it like this…”

The Mentor Coach

Mentor coaches have generally built up years of experience and expertise in some field of work that qualifies them to coach. We find mentor coaches frequently in business in many different professions and disciplines. Mentor coaching is typically not a profession, but more of a service. Usually, a mentor coach is a veteran showing a junior person the ropes of their profession. A mentor coach may or may not have any training in coaching skills and requires no certification.

Characteristics of mentor coaching include:

  • Moderate instruction
  • Moderately to less directive, coach- and individual-led
  • Usually a targeted focus
  • The individual defers to the direction of their mentor coach
  • Can be either formal or informal arrangement

The mentor coach says, “Do what I have done…”

The Professional Coach

Professional coaches often refer to themselves as life coaches, executive coaches, leadership coaches and the like. These are professionals trained in the competencies of coaching and become certified when they demonstrate mastery of those competencies.[1] Professional coaches are unique among coaches in that their skills enable them to coach others proficiently in a wide variety of life and work issues.

Characteristics of professional coaching include:

  • Open-ended questioning
  • Non-directive, client-led
  • Focuses on the client’s agenda
  • The coach empowers the client to self-direct
  • Formal arrangement

The professional coach asks, “What would you like to achieve?”

The key difference between professional coaches and skills and mentor coaches, is that the professional coach prompts and empowers the individual to direct their coaching experience. This creates an entirely different experience for the individual.

With skills and mentor coaches, the individual is fairly dependent on them for direction and instruction. With a professional coach, the individual is challenged to delve into untapped personal resources.

Also, the skills and mentor coaches are usually interested only in what goes on in the individual’s life as it pertains to the skill or proficiency at hand. The professional coach is trained to uncover hidden obstacles to success in the client’s life.

For instance, a client may want to set and be held accountable for a lofty business goal. In the coaching process, the coach helps the client discover through questioning that there’s a rift in the client’s relationship with their spouse. The client realizes that this rift will undoubtedly impede the client’s progress toward their goal. So the coach assists the client in determining how to repair that relationship and meet their goal.

In this way, professional coaching is a holistic approach for empowering an individual to grow and develop in any area the individual desires.

I am excited to be among the ranks of certified coaches! I love coaching, because I enjoy helping people grow and excel at life.

My clients have included business owners, pastors, church planters, missionaries, entrepreneurs, and professionals in: real estate, engineering, finance, transportation, construction, property management, pharmaceuticals, sales, health care, information systems, telephony, and insurance.

How about you? What big goal would you like to set and hit? Where are you feeling stuck? What obstacles are you facing that are preventing you from reaching your goals? What transitions are you experiencing right now? What relationships would you like to significantly improve? Where are you in your walk with Jesus Christ? What’s tugging at your life that you’d like to change or improve?

Contact me. I offer a free, 30-minute, introductory coaching session with no strings attached. Try coaching out and see if it’s for you!

Rob Fischer



[1] The International Coach Federation has identified 11 core coaching competencies that a professional coach must be able to demonstrate in order to be certified. See: http://coachfederation.org/credential/landing.cfm?ItemNumber=2206&navItemNumber=576.

Reaching Out to the Post-Abortive

In his book, Making Abortion Rare, Dr. David C. Reardon argues that it is not the rights of the unborn that will finally put an end to abortion, but the rights of women.

This line of thinking may fly in the face of current pro-life strategy, but it makes perfect sense when you consider how horribly abortion hurts women. This is not to minimize in any way taking the lives of the unborn. But it’s the women who are suffering the aftermath of an abortion who we still have with us and can testify to the damage abortion has inflicted on them.

The pro-abortion camp says they are defending the rights and interests of women. Meanwhile, countless women are suffering unrelenting grief, remorse, shame, and a myriad of physical problems resulting from their abortion. Abortion hurts women and defies their rights.

Dr. Reardon writes, “Soon the abortion industry will find that it can no longer hide the fact that the only way to kill an unborn child is by maiming and traumatizing the child’s mother.”[1]

The author argues that the best way to end abortion is by extending compassion and healing to post-abortive women. By exposing the horrible damage of abortion on women, abortion will become unthinkable.

My heart goes out to these women. They’ve been deceived and forced into making a choice that will haunt them for the rest of their lives, often resulting in self-destructive behaviors of all kinds. Click here to hear one woman’s story.

We recognize that the healing, forgiveness and redemption these women long for can only be found in Jesus Christ. In response to this great need to demonstrate and communicate Christ’s love and forgiveness, and with a view to ending abortion, I’m excited to announce the launch of a new organization: Abortion Anonymous or AbAnon.

The mission of AbAnon is to offer free assistance in a safe environment to those in need of healing and recovery from the pain or emotional impact caused by abortion. Please click here to visit our website. I invite you to watch the video on our home page and to poke around. Navigate to the “Join Us” page and please consider donating.

My good friend and spiritual partner, Perry Underwood, is the founder of AbAnon. I serve as a charter board member of AbAnon. Our long-term prayer and goal is not only to provide post-abortive women (and men) healing and recovery from their abortions, but also to see the end of abortion in our country. Won’t you join us?

In Christ,

Rob Fischer

www.AbAnon.org

See also www.ChangetheShame.com



[1] David C. Reardon, Making Abortion Rare, (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 1996), p. viii.

Too Many Sticks!

Recently I had the privilege of taking my four-year-old grandson, Parker, on a hike. As an avid hiker, I also have great aspirations of cultivating in him a love for hiking and the wilderness.

Having watched Parker run countless laps around the living room without tiring, I knew that he has the stamina to hike a fair distance at a good pace.

As we began hiking, I pointed out various beautiful flowers and shrubs that were in bloom. At one point, he stopped to sit on a boulder and we looked at all the different colored lichen growing on it. Parker did appreciate the wonders of nature, but quickly became preoccupied with the treasure trove of sticks available on the trail.

I soon learned that Parker loves sticks as much as I love hiking! At first he simply picked up every stick he came across, but then he realized that sticks were everywhere! So he began selecting only the best sticks.

Soon, Parker had so many sticks in his grasp that he was clutching a whole sheaf of them against his chest. And everywhere he looked, there were more sticks begging to be picked up. I watched him struggle physically, juggling all those sticks, and mentally because he had to leave so many behind.

Obviously, all these sticks significantly hindered his ability to hike. He couldn’t see where he was going, the sticks were knocking him off balance, and his pace slowed to a crawl.

I saw what was happening and reasoned with him, “Parker, why don’t you limit yourself to two sticks for now. You’re not able to hike with so many sticks and I’m afraid you’re going to stab yourself with one of them if you fall.”

Thankfully, he gave in. He laid down his bundle of sticks and carefully selected two of the best and we continued our hike. And he announced, “Grandpa, I’m not going to pick up any more sticks…except this one,” as he stooped to pick up another stick!

As we continued our hike, the lure of all the tantalizing sticks grew too much for Parker to resist. Before I knew it he was clutching a whole bundle of sticks again—so many that he kept dropping some. Then he’d slowly crouch down, sneak one hand away from his bundle and pick up the fallen stick—only to lose another in the process.

Now, for a four-year-old, Parker is extremely articulate and quite a negotiator. So he approached me and asked if I would carry some of his sticks for him. I agreed to do so, but asked that he limit his load to two sticks.

Soon my back pocket was bursting with sticks and I held some in both hands. Meanwhile, Parker was again clutching a large bunch of sticks to his chest. Again, I tried to reason with him that the sticks were distracting and hindering him from being able to hike and that they posed a danger to him.

But by now, Parker had grown attached to his sheaf of sticks and nothing would convince him to part with them. That’s when I decided that for every new stick he picked up, I would surreptitiously put one down that I was carrying.

Eventually, I only had one stick left. We were walking past a rock outcropping and I stealthily laid my last stick on a small ledge at eye height. But apparently I wasn’t stealthy enough.

Parker looked at me knowingly and asked, “Grandpa, what did you just do?” I smiled, caught in the act, “I put one of your sticks on that ledge.”

“May I see it?” Parker asked. So I showed it to him. With all sincerity, Parker exclaimed, “Grandpa, that was my favorite stick!”

On one level, this whole hiking excursion was a wonderful experience that I will cherish for many years. On another level, however, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to me later, “All those sticks that Parker just had to have are like the sins and harmful habits that people hold onto.”

All through life we pick up “sticks” thinking that we can’t live without them. These “sticks” hinder our walk with Christ. Our pet habits often distract us from what’s important and even pose a threat to our spiritual well-being. And they’re so hard to put down once we become accustomed to carrying them—especially our favorite ones.

In Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) we read,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Are you carrying any “sticks” the Lord is asking you to lay down?

©2014 Rob Fischer

Great Pleasure!

Jesus is alive! He rose from the dead. But His resurrection required his death. In Isaiah 53, we read the most amazing foretelling of Jesus’ death, written hundreds of years before Jesus died:

But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:10-11 NASB)

“The Lord was pleased to crush Him.” The original language leaves no doubt: the Father was pleased; He took delight in crushing His Son. How can this be? The Father was pleased to allow His Son to suffer because of what His suffering would accomplish.

What did Jesus’ suffering and death accomplish? Speaking of Jesus the Lord says, “The Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. And those He justifies, God calls His offspring.

Not only was the Father pleased to allow His Son to suffer, but speaking of Jesus we read, “as a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied.” Hebrews 12:2 says it like this: Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before him.” Jesus, the Son of God, was pleased to die for us. He even found joy in it.

If the wonder of the Father’s and the Son’s incredible love for us were not already magnified to its limits, God astounds us again with another truth: “’Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?’ declares the Sovereign Lord. ‘Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?’” (Ezekiel 18:23 NIV)

How can we understand this? How can we reconcile the fact that God is never pleased in the death of the wicked, yet He was pleased in the death of His Son? Simply, for that is how much God loves us!

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:5 NLT)

©2014 Rob Fischer

 

Be a He-Man!

I get a kick out of some of the names of people in the Bible. For instance, the man who wrote Psalm 88 was a guy named Heman. Although we don’t use the term very often anymore, a he-man is “a strong virile man.”

Yes, I’m making a play on words, but please humor me! What caught my attention in this Psalm is that here is a guy named Heman (he-man), yet he cries out to God in prayer, “I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength.” (Psalm 88:3-4 NIV)

There’s subtle irony in the fact that a guy named Heman confesses that he’s overwhelmed and like one without strength. We don’t know much about Heman the Ezrahite, but he is also mentioned in 1 Kings 4:31 as one who was renowned for his wisdom.

My point is that all through the Scripture, we have examples of men and women like Heman who were heroes of the faith, because they relied on God for their strength and life. And because they trusted God, he worked amazing, history-making feats through them.

Knowing myself and human nature, we tend to rely on our own strength and wisdom until we get into trouble and then we run to God. In this way we often maintain a, “I’ll call you if I need you,” attitude toward God. But such a relationship is a far cry from the relationship God wants with us where we would find greater joy and meaning.

The Apostle Paul learned to live in the presence of Christ, ever relying on Christ’s strength, wisdom, and grace. He urges us to live the same way in the power of Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 11, the Apostle Paul provides his resume as an adventurer for God. The physical, emotional and spiritual dangers and hardships he endured in his lifetime eclipse even the most famous explorers and adventurers. And in spite of all those hardships, he experienced tremendous success in his work.

Yet Paul refused to boast in his trials and accomplishments and chose rather to boast in his weaknesses. Why? Because the Lord showed him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)

We must not be content with a, “I’ll call you if I need you,” attitude toward God. Instead, like Heman and Paul of old, let’s recognize our weakness, our neediness before God and rely on him every moment of the day to live through us. Rather than boast in our strength and wisdom, we want to boast in Christ’s. Heman declared, “Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you.” (Psalm 88:1 NIV)

©2014 Rob Fischer

40 Days for Life

We are currently in the midst of the 40 Days for Life campaign calling on us all to pray for an end to abortion.[1] In view of this, I’d like to focus on this righteous goal in this post.

Praying for an end to abortion is a very powerful approach to this or any other issue, problem, or situation in our lives for at least two reasons. First, prayer is powerful because we are appealing to Almighty God.

Many might think, “It’s no use. We’ve been praying for the past 40 years for an end to abortion and it’s as rampant as ever.”[2] God’s responds to that objection, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 NIV) Well, is our request to end abortion too hard for God? Of course not! So, are we praying?

The Lord also urges us to persevere in prayer. “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1 NIV) If we have not yet received fulfillment of our prayers to end abortion, then now is the time to dig in and persevere!

Time and time again, the Lord has worked on behalf of people who pray for His righteous causes. Many Americans have either forgotten or didn’t know that God already answered this prayer once in the history of the US. Following the Civil War, abortion was so common that “abortionists accounted for as much as a quarter of all classified advertising dollars for a number of local [i.e., New York] newspapers.”[3]

In July, 1871, New York Times reporter Augustus St. Clair conducted undercover investigative reporting and published an article exposing the abortion industry. His article woke up the church and prompted her to action. In less than two decades, every state in the Union passed laws making abortion illegal and redefined it as “murder.”[4] Join me with praying, “Oh, God, please do it again!”

A second reason that prayer is such a powerful approach to ending abortion, other social injustice, or dealing with any other issue, is because prayer changes us. Prayer moves us continually into the presence of God. And in His presence, we cannot remain unchanged.

Entering into prayer for the plight of the unborn will align our hearts with the heart of God on this matter. Praying against the injustice of abortion will cause us to weep and repent over the sins of our nation. Praying in this way may prompt us to ask, “What else can I do to end abortion?”

In his book, Why Pro-Life? Randy Alcorn cites the Guttmacher Institute (formerly Family Planning Perspectives) that of the women who obtain abortions in the US, 43 percent identify themselves as Protestant and 27 percent as Catholic.[5] Additionally, Life Services estimates that one in three men and women in our Evangelical congregations have participated in an abortion in the past.

Our prayers to end abortion first demand a change in us. “God, forgive us and cleanse us for the role we’ve played in aborting innocent children in the past. Forgive us for our complacency and excuses for not praying!”

Other changes in us that such prayer will bring about include extending love and forgiveness toward those around us who have participated in an abortion. Christ’s death and resurrection are more than sufficient to forgive, cleanse, and remove all guilt. But many women and men suffer horribly under the weight of guilt and shame from a past abortion. They need release from that terrible burden that only Christ can give.

How “safe” is your church or small group? If one of your close friends shared their past abortion experience, to what extent could you offer them grace, mercy and love? “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV)

How willing would we be to dissuade a young single woman from getting an abortion and then offer her and her baby a home and support to make her decision feasible?

We often hear the phrase, “Prayer changes things!” But are we willing to let it change us? Please join me in praying for an end to the awful injustice of killing the unborn.

For a free Kindle version of my book 13 Jars, please click here. (This offer is only good thru Wednesday, March 26!)

©2014 Rob Fischer



[2] Every year, approximately 1.2 million babies are aborted in the US.

[3] George Grant, Third Time Around—A History of the Pro-Life Movement from the First Century to the Present, (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., 1991), p. 95.

[4] Grant, pp. 96 & 100.

[5] Randy Alcorn, Why Pro-Life? Caring for the Unborn and Their Mothers,” (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004), p. 17.

When Pain & Suffering Come

In my daily Bible reading I currently find myself in the Old Testament book of Job. Although Job’s experience was extreme, I think we can all identify with him in his suffering.

In short, here’s what Job suffered: the complete loss of his entire income due to raiders and natural disaster; the death of all his children (seven sons and three daughters); a very painful disease resulting in oozing sores all over his body; and his wife gave up on him. To top off all of that, Job’s three friends basically told him that God must be very angry at him otherwise he wouldn’t be suffering like this.

But it’s too easy to simply list a set of sufferings without feeling the pain behind them. For instance, for a man to lose his livelihood represents a significant loss. Right or wrong, we link our identity and sense of worth to our work. Job lost it all in one day—gone! The malice, greed and destruction with which those raids were carried out must have added to his grief and sense of loss.

Next, he lost all of his children in one terrible accident. I knew a family who lost all three of their little girls in a plane accident. Their grief and sorrow were immeasurable! How can we even comprehend the depths of such pain and suffering? Surely the horrible pain of losing his children rendered the loss of his income as nothing by comparison. This kind of grief does not simply go away.

Next, Job was inflicted with a disease that left very painful sores all over his body, “from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.” There was no position in which he could find comfort. Everywhere was excruciating pain. Job describes his disease, “My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering.” (Job 6:5)

The text says that job sat on a pile of ashes and scraped his sores with a piece of broken pottery trying to get some relief. Even sleep provided no respite from his sores. “The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.” (Job 6:4)

Add to all that his wife’s desperate, but cruel response to him, “His wife said to him, ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!’” It’s true, when we suffer deeply, often those around us—even our loved ones cannot understand. In their frustration to know what to say, they come across as shallow and uncaring. Job must have truly felt abandoned.

By now, Job’s pain and agony had overwhelmed him and defined him to the extent that he was without hope and wished for death. He didn’t take his life—but he longed for an end to the pain and suffering. He fantasized with welcoming death as a friend and prayed to God for it. (Job 6)

Finally, Job’s three friends all decided to come “sympathize with him and comfort him.”  When Job’s three friends arrived, they were so appalled at his appearance and disturbed by “how great his suffering was” that none of them spoke to him for a week. They just sat there dumbfounded.

Giving Job’s friends the benefit of the doubt, they probably agonized in their own way over the condition of their friend. But their response to this suffering led to foolishness.

Job’s friends could not comprehend how God would allow anyone to suffer like this for any other reason than sin. Surely Job must have done something horrible—overtly or hidden—to justify this magnitude of suffering. The only justification for extreme suffering had to be recompense or severe discipline for rebellion and disobedience on Job’s part.

The question of why God allows suffering is still a relevant one today. But the answer that Job’s story gives us is not what we might expect. For the question, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” implies either a raging condemnation of God or a feeble attempt at justifying him, which Job’s friends attempted to do.

And yet, by the end of the book of Job, God spoke directly with Job and his three friends. God said to Job’s three friends, “I am angry with you…because you have not spoken the truth about me.” (Job 42:7) Then, get this because it is remarkable, God asked Job to pray for his three friends, “And I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your [Job’s friends] folly.” (Job 42:8)

In the end Job declared to the Lord, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I…repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2, 5-6) The magnitude of God’s love and greatness far outshone the depths of Job’s suffering.

In conclusion, when you suffer—and even when you suffer deeply and horribly—know that God loves you more than you can fathom or reason. To believe otherwise is folly. Trust Him, press into Him, lean on Him and pray for Him to deliver you either from or through your suffering. As Job and his three friends discovered, God is so much bigger than our feeble attempts to portray Him.

“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” (Job 42:12)

 

©2014 Rob Fischer