Satan, with God’s permission, singled Job out to test his faith. Though Job suffered, perhaps more than anyone else, he did not give up his faith. He refused to curse God, though he did curse himself and lament being born at all. Job sat through the interrogation and accusations from his friends, and endured grief-fueled opposition from his wife while dealing with his own grief and misfortune. As Anne of Green Gables would say, he was “in the depths of despair” with a “lifelong sorrow.” Have you been there? We learn through the book of Job that there is only one way out of such a dark pit: the Joy of the Lord.
In my family, we enjoy the Harry Potter books and movies (though we appreciate them separately since books are nearly always better than their movie adaptations). If you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, bear with me for just a few minutes.
In the third installment of the series, Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry and his friends take Divination for the first time. While they are looking up what the tea leaves represent, the following conversation takes place:
“Right, you’ve got a crooked sort of cross…” He consulted Unfogging the Future. “That means you’re going to have ‘trials and suffering’ — sorry about that — but there’s a thing that could be the sun… hang on… that means ‘great happiness’… so you’re going to suffer but be very happy…”
In the book, Harry is reading Ron’s tea leaves BUT in the movie, Ron is reading Harry’s leaves. It’s also in this book/movie, that Harry learns how to do the Patronus Charm, a difficult incantation even for a powerful wizard (according to the series). In order to produce a Patronus, one has to focus on a strong HAPPY memory. If you know this story, you know that Harry didn’t have much in the way of “good memories.” His parents were killed by an enemy that still seeks to destroy Harry. He lives with relatives that would treat a stray dog better than they treat him. He’s struggled all of his life to fit in and make friends until he learns his true identity.
If we use the movie’s evidence, “suffering but being happy about it,” applies to Harry’s story. He often casts a Patronus during times when there isn’t much happiness. While we don’t have magic spells or wands, we can also “suffer and be happy about it.”
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
Even Job, in the deepest pit of despair and suffering, declared, “I KNOW my Redeemer lives!” We can rest in that knowledge, with joy, even when everything seems awful.