At least once a week, my three year old, Lexi, asks, “Mommy, when am I gonna get to go to Heaven?” And I say, “I don’t know; only God knows that.” Her response is always the same, “I wish I could go to Heaven now. I just can’t wait to see Jesus!” And my response is always the same, “Me too.”
Lexi’s desire for Heaven is marked with great excitement and anticipation. She’s learned some basic things in her short life – things like God is wonderful; God loves her; God lives in Heaven; Heaven is the most fantastic place ever; and because she’s accepted Jesus, God will one day bring her to Heaven. And this knowledge births a beautiful longing in her soul to be there now.
My desire for Heaven is a little more complex than Lexi’s is. It is more than just anticipating bliss. In large part, my motivation for Heaven is rooted in my desire for relief from pain. I almost don’t even have to have the promise that Heaven will be full of wonderful things; I just need the promise that it will be devoid of painful things. The blissful aspects of Heaven are like a bonus, an extra declaration of God’s infinite grace and love. I think I’d choose to go there even if Heaven didn’t hold blessings for me, as long as I was sure it didn’t hold pain.
What my daughter will one day discover is that life hurts. Relationships break. Bones break. Faith breaks. Pain traverses our hearts, bodies, and souls. And there are times when we just sit down in the mud and say, “I don’t know what to do.”
Job loved God. The Bible says Job was, “fearful and upright; he feared God and shunned evil,” (Job 1:1). In our language, Job was the equivalent of a real-deal Christian – someone who loves God in words AND actions and whose personal relationship with God thrives. Job was blessed with wealth, a large family, and fame (Job 1:1-3). He was plugging along in life, living out his faith, experiencing blessing for his obedience, and, presumably, loving life.
Then God allowed Job’s world to be turned upside down.
Job’s wealth was stolen and destroyed (Job 1:13-17); his children all died in a freak accident (Job 1:18-19); he acquired a painful disease (Job 2:7); his wife stopped supporting him (Job 2:8); his friends turned on him, accusing him of being weak in faith (Job 4:6) and even inferring that he was wicked (Job 15:20-35; Job 18:5-21).
How did Job respond?
He wondered why he had even been born (Job 3:11).
He said things like, “I loathe my very life; therefore, I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 10:1), and, “My spirit is broken” (Job 17:1), and, “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer” (Job 30:20).
In a word, Job despaired. He felt powerless and confused. He didn’t know what to do.
He did all he could do – he trusted God. When Job’s life fell apart, he fell back on what he knew.
“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his” (Job 12:13).
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth…and I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes” (Job 19:25-27).
“[God] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
“I know that [God] can do all things; no plan of [his] can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
When we don’t know what to do, we can take a page out of Job’s book. We can fall back on what we know is true of God. We can seek comfort from His Word that He knows us, that he’s for us, and that, one day, we will see Him face to face.
And, hopefully, this knowledge will give us the strength to take the next breath and press on.