Yesterday my Pastor finished a series of sermons on the book of Job. Over that last several months he preached about suffering, and the additional pain heaped upon the person by the faulty beliefs of misguided friends. Every survivor of abuse knows suffering. I understand the pain of suffering. I have also experienced the wounds of hearing adult friends who, like Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, try to explain their own fears about suffering and the goodness of God, by proclaiming that I had somehow caused my own childhood suffering by being more sinful than those who had happy childhoods. Those are experiences I understand in Job.
Yet, in the story of Job we learn that God restored Job’s wealth and gave him more children. Of course as my pastor pointed out, that doesn’t remove the scars inflicted by the loss of his adult children, but it can help the healing process. Stories and promises of restoration has always been a difficult concept for me to understand and identify with in Scripture. When I read such accounts in Scripture the first thought that comes to my mind is “what can be restored to an adult who as a child had nothing?” A child who had no love, no power, no joy, no wealth? From conversations with others, I know I am not alone in these questions and the deep sadness it brings. What I have come to realize is that the answers to my questions require I reframe the idea of restoration.
Yes, even from conception I did not have the joy of a family that loved me. Yet God brought and continues to bring restoration to my life. I didn’t get to experience any of the ways I dreamed of knowing love, I didn’t enjoy the love of an adopted family, or of a husband and children of my own. But I did have the love of God even from my mother’s womb. That love, which is the most important of all, was stolen from me by the lies and fears my family violently instilled in me. Lies that unfortunately were further fertilized by some “Job’s Comforters” that I encountered early in my Christian walk.
Yet, I understand now about restoration. In my adult years I have been given eyes to see just how God has mercifully restored my knowledge and awareness of His love for me. God has also restored a level of mental/emotional wholeness that several doctors and psychiatrists never believed was possible for me. It wasn’t a quick or easy restoration. And I still struggle at times with the effects of the scars I carry, both physical and psychological, but I am worshipful and grateful for the restoration God has graciously given me..
As my pastor pointed out in his closing sermon on Job, we can not dictate to God how or even if He restores to us what suffering has taken from us. And even in restoration, God does not remove the scars left in our souls. But considering the joy of God drawing near to His broken little ones, I count it all joy. Would I enjoy the same depth of dependency and intimacy with God had I not suffered so deeply? I sincerely doubt it. Oh I trust I would still be a believer and love God, but the mercy of suffering is that God draws close to you and you are quick to cling to God.
So if you are struggling with grief over what God has not restored to you, I want to share a word of wisdom a Chaplin once shared with me, “Don’t miss out on what you do have because you are solely focused on what you don’t yet have.” And whether certain desires happen in this world or not, we do know that we will experience full joy and restoration with God in Christ when we see Him Face to face. There is nothing in this life that comes even close to the fullness of joy we will experience then.