“Have you considered my servant, Job?” – Job 1:8
This past Sunday, Tom spoke about suffering. He talked about how Christians never have the world’s attention as much as when we go through hard times. People want to see if God makes a difference, so inevitably, it got me thinking about my own circumstances.
I was recently startled to hear the mother of a spectrum child refer to her son’s differences as an “attack of Satan.” This may come as a surprise, but I never gave much thought to Satan’s role in Luke’s autism. To be honest, I see Satan as rather irrelevant – just an unwilling servant in the hand of an all-powerful, God.
In the first days and weeks after Luke was diagnosed, many people came to me with verses of Scripture to bring me comfort and hope, and while I appreciated the gesture, they rang kind of hollow. I wasn’t in a place to receive encouragement. So instead, I started searching the Bible for someone that I could relate to, and I found myself in the book of Job.
For those of you who don’t know the story, Job is a great guy, and God has rewarded him with well-being, wealth and family. Then, Job loses everything. All of his worldly goods, all of his children, and his health – gone.
But there is a side to his story that not even Job knows about, and it gives us insight into Satan’s and God’s role when we face hard times.
Satan appears before God for his regular check-in and God asks Satan, “Have you considered my servant, Job?”
Freeze right there.
Did you know Satan wasn’t even concerned with Job until God brought him up? It was God’s idea for Job endure hardship – not Satan’s. No doubt, Satan was more than happy to comply, but the fact remains that this was God’s plan.
So, God allows Satan to attack Job, but He also puts limits on what Satan can do to him. In other words, Satan isn’t able to do anything that God hasn’t permitted.
I would like to think that a similar scene may have played out in Heaven the day that Luke was conceived. That Satan said to God, “Of course she serves you! Look at all you’ve given her, but make her child disabled and she will curse you to your face.” So, God nodded His assent with a smirk, knowing that the devil had played right into His hands. Then I imagine that glorious day, when Luke and I will declare to Satan, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
Did Job think he was under the attack of Satan? No. He says, “Shall we accept good from God and not evil?” He accepts his hard times as being from the very hand of God.
In the end, Job’s health is restored and he is blessed with more affluence and children than he had in the first place, but as a parent, I have to believe that no matter how many more children God gave him, not a day went by that he didn’t mourn for those he lost – that he didn’t picture his sons playing in his pastures or remember his daughters picking flowers in his fields – that he didn’t long to see and hold them again. Surely, there was a grief that he carried with him for the rest of his days on earth.
Job finally gets the opportunity to talk to God, and he asks God to tell him why he had to endure this.
What is God’s answer? Does He say, “A book will be written about you, and all generations will look to you as an example of faithfulness, humility and patience?” No. Does He say, “You see, this was a test, and guess what, you passed!” Nope. Does he tell him, “Satan and I had this bet going and I won!” Not even close. He tells Job, “Who are you to question Me? Were you there when I created the universe?” In fact, God never reveals His purpose in Job’s suffering – at least not this side of heaven.
The Happy Home Fairy is a very dear friend of mine, and a woman and mother that I greatly admire, but she recently had a couple of posts (here and here), that made me think about parents like myself. Parents who, for all of our prayers and faith and trusting God, didn’t have things turn out the way we planned.
The Fairy is still waiting for the end of her story to play out – she doesn’t know yet if her son will be perfectly typical or have more permanent challenges. She is living in a place of hope, which is where she should be in this season, and I don’t want to take that from her, but I’d like to speak to her, and to anyone like her who is still waiting for answers.
I pray that you get the total healing you’ve hoped for, but even if you don’t …
God is still God.
God is still good.
God still has a plan for your child, and it’s better than yours.
You will be okay…
Maybe not right away, but eventually…
You will learn to sing again.