Job 13:15 (NAS): 15 “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”
I’ve just experienced the darkest days of my life. I have had difficult times before, but none like this. I have, for as far back as I can remember, believed deeply that no matter how hard life became, things would be alright. This was not mere optimism. It was conviction, and it had never been shaken, until now. These dark days were different both in intensity and in duration.
It began when doors that had long stood open began to close. It was not uncommon for the Lord to close doors, but when doors closed, others opened. But not this time. My prayers were not only going unanswered, but I was starting to sense a deliberate silence. I wasn’t being told, “no.” I was being ignored.
Ministry has always been hard for me, I had come to expect it. But now it was becoming unnecessarily difficult. I was used to the improbable and difficult circumstances somehow coming together for my good, but now unlikely things were coming apart, and the timing felt providential. Things were going wrong at just the right time to make things harder.
I could feel the stress beginning to affect my health. I began to have headaches. When I tried to sleep, I would have, what felt like, panic attacks. My heart would race and palpitate, as I thought about what would go wrong next. As the fear mounted and the distress set in, I developed and involuntary groan. It was as if I had been unconsciously holding my breath and had to audibly exhale. For some time they were my only prayers.
At one of the darkest moments the passage above came to mind. It did not come as encouragement, but as an answer for what I was going through. The passage resonated with me because it felt like the Lord had abandoned me. If the Lord were slaying me, then to whom could I turn for help? I was afraid that my experiences would prove my theology about the grace of God wrong by a preponderance of the evidence. I was afraid the sins of my youth had matured into the debt that was now due. And I knew the wages of sin.
For the record, Job was being slain, but not by the Lord. But it was real enough to him. Was the Lord slaying me? I can’t really be certain. Will the Lord slay with the expectation that we yet hope in Him? Absolutely. The question for me is not is He or is He not, it was real enough to me. The question is will I yet hope in Him. At the time, I didn’t have the answer. Now, the answer is an easy, yes, I will hope in Him. You see, little by little and day by day my circumstances started to change. The darkness began to lift and a new day dawned. I find myself in a better place now, but that’s not the reason the answer is easy. It’s easy now because the peace came first. Before anything changed, before any door opened, while still in the darkness, the peace of God came and guarded my heart and mind. Before He restored my fortunes, He restored my soul. It was by that incomprehensible peace that He promised. It kept me from stumbling in the darkness. And for that, I can say like Job, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”
Be glorified, my Lord!