By Wendy Francis

“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33: 4

Most of us know the story of Job or have heard people refer to the ‘patience of Job’. This godly man suffered incredibly, losing his family and all that he had. His wife even encouraged him to curse God and die. But through it all, he was faithful. He refused to stop trusting in the goodness and wisdom of God. This verse that we are meditating on today is spoken to Job by a young man named Elihu. Elihu had patiently listened to three of Job’s so-called ‘friends’ wrongly accuse Job, telling him that his extraordinary suffering was a result of God’s punishment for some grievous sin that he had committed. Displaying a total lack of understanding of God and His ways, in their puny wisdom, they surmised that suffering is basically a punishment for sin and that prosperity is a reward for righteousness. We only need to look to the Christians in Iraq and Syria who today suffer at the hands of ISIS to see through the lie of that heresy.

Job’s world was falling apart and those who should have been there for him only added to his distress. Do you have ‘friends’ like that? Full of their own wisdom – ready to give you advice but with little insight into your situation and lacking any compassion? Are you struggling with some tough stuff in your life right now? Well, can I offer my advice to you today?

Draw near to God. Ignore the advice of the three ‘friends’ and take note of what young Elihu says. He gets back to basics. “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life”. It is God who has made you and it is He who gives you life. Is there anything more grounding than the knowledge that God is the creator, and that He created you for a purpose and that He wants to give you life and for that life to be enjoyed abundantly?

Elihu’s perspective on suffering is one that should give us great encouragement. Suffering is not meant to destroy or punish us, but God allows it to refine us. Through the tough times, we learn to rely not on ourselves, but on God who is the overcomer, even raising the dead! Suffering is allowed so that our faith might be refined, our holiness enlarged and that God may be glorified though us.

God is in control. And for His children, suffering is not a punishment. Life can be overwhelming. And as we approach this Christmas season, the struggles of every day can threaten to extinguish the joy that should accompany the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Can I encourage you to be intentional in your consideration today of the sure knowledge that God made you and it is He who gives you life. In John 10:10 we learn that the life the Holy Spirit gives is a superabundant life, full of joy and strength for our mind, body and soul.   

Take time out from the craziness that surrounds us all at this time of year. Spend time with Jesus, and drink deeply of God’s love and the life that He intends for you to live through His Holy Spirit. God never promised your day would have no pain. But He has promised strength and wisdom for the day and comfort in your tears. His very breath gives you life. You are fully known and deeply loved. There is reason to rejoice today, despite your circumstances.

Wendy Francis is the Qld Director of the Australian Christian Lobby and their national spokesperson for the rights of children and dignity of women. She has been married to Peter for 37 years and they have 3 married children and 10 grandchildren. You can find her online at www.wendyfrancis.com.au, www.chatoverthefence.com, facebook.com/wendyjoyfrancis or twitter.com/wendyjoyfrancis

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