“Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you now still mean to persist in your blamelessness? Curse God, and die.’ ‘That is how foolish women talk,’ Job replied. ‘If we take happiness from God’s hand, must we not take sorrow too?’ And in all this misfortune Job uttered no sinful word” (Job 2:9,10 Jerusalem Bible).
BOTH REVERENCE AND GRATITUDE MUST BE MAINTAINED DURING THE DAYS OF DARKNESS. God is not any less there when life is hard than when it is easy. This is an objective fact, regardless of what our feelings may indicate. The challenge is to discipline our feelings when necessary and maintain our faith in the face of hardship and doubt. Dark days need not be days of utter defeat.
As one of the Lord’s apostles, and having endured more than a few difficult days, Paul could say, “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8–10). To be “hard pressed” doesn’t mean that we have to be “crushed.” We may be “perplexed, but not in despair.”
To the church in Smyrna, Christ sent this message: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
We simply must not allow the onset of pain in our lives to demolish our faith. Is it not a finer and nobler thing to believe when it’s difficult than when it’s easy? After all, it doesn’t take much character or integrity to believe when God’s reality is radiantly shining and all the obvious blessings are flowing our way. “Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” But when the clouds roll in, that is when people of real faith continue to honor God and thank Him for His goodness. When it must meet some significant test, that is when trust means the most. The value of faith doesn’t really become obvious until there is some doubt to be dealt with.
I praise Thee while my days go on;
I love Thee while my days go on:
Through dark and dearth, through fire and frost,
With emptied arms and treasure lost,
I thank Thee while my days go on.
(Elizabeth Barrett Browning)