(Photo Credits Belong To Photographer: Ben Johnson, 2018).
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Over the course of the past year, my family has been involved in what I like to call “The Book of Job Season of Life” (pronounced “Jobe” as in a person and not “Job” like a career path ;)).  From hosting a couple in our house that then, in turn, stole from us to our dog Chance having surgery, our dog Buddy attacking and killing another dog, a baby being born addicted to drugs, my Father being hospitalized six times, my half-brothers getting arrested and being brought back to life through Narcan, getting hit by a car during a snowstorm, having our house literally fall apart from the inside out, and more, it is no surprise that we started to feel a little a bit defeated by the devil himself.  Through much anxiety, depression, and chaos, it began to get harder and harder to see the light outside of the tunnel.  And although those around us were supportive and loving along the way, nothing seemed to help, for with another day came more problems and if I’m honest, the struggles still haven’t stopped, but you know what has?  My mental state of thinking, “Why me?”, “Why us?”, “When will it ever stop?”.  I stopped wanting people to relate and feel bad for me and instead, I started praying because I didn’t want sympathy, I needed strength.
Of course, I wish I could say that my life has drastically gotten better, and all of our Job-like moments have ceased, but if that were the case, then I suppose we wouldn’t be living in this fallen state of humanity.  In the same manner, I wish I could say that I have learned to appreciate and sincerly thank God for all of these difficulties that we are going through, but again, this is still a process.  However, what I can say is that this time of testing in our lives merely is just a season, and as the colors of winter fade into spring, summer, and fall, I know that restoration, growth, rebirth, and development are surely on the way.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes in chapter 3, verses 1-8 that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to will and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NIV).  Just like a tree, or the four seasons of our planet, we all go through seasons, and these make up our lives.  From jobs to friends, troubles, achievements, ups, and downs, these circumstances surrounding us change daily.  Take a look at Job, for instance.
Job, a man who had everything he would ever need in life, and more committed no sins, yet he lost everything physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally that he ever had.  Going from riches to rags, even when he was left with nothing but God, His faith alone helped him to realize that God alone was enough.  At the end of his story, it is his faithfulness and honor to Christthat restores his rags back to riches, and God blesses him with more than he could ever ask or imagine in the first place, something that never would have happened without his struggles.  But if Job reveals anything to us in his story, it is that this transformation and season of life was not easy for him, and in fact, he questioned the things happening and asked his friends for advice much as we do.  Yes, in Job 1:21-22, Job praises God after everything is taken away from him (“and said, “When I was born into this world, I was naked and had nothing.  When I die and leave this world, I will be naked and have nothing.  The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.  Praise the name of the Lord!”  Even after all this, Job did not sin. He did not accuse God of doing anything wrong” (Job 1:21-22, ERV)), however, a few chapters later, he also cried out in anguish cursing the day he was born (chapter 3), and questioning God, “Do you enjoy hurting me?” (chapter 10 verse 3, ERV).  In this sense, I am filled with sorrow for Job, but also gratitude because these emotions reveal his humanness to each of us.
Though we may not ever understand the purpose behind our pain, we can rest assured that Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and ever faithful in His promises to each of us (Hebrews 13:8, ERV), has given us time, life, and purpose in the things we are going through.  That even when life hurts, and gets hard or is happy-go-lucky, there is a time and a season designed with a specific plan just for you.  However, I also think it is important to note here that God does not delight in our suffering.  In fact, I firmly believe that when we shed our tears, He cries right along with us.  When we hurt, He hurts.  When we are asking why, and going through the earthly versions of Hell, He is holding our hand and lifting us above the fires because He already paid that eternal price.  Even still, I believe that He allows us to go through these times so that we can grow through them and learn to become ever more dependent on Him who gives us strength.
Because if I am completely honest with you, when life is fantastic, and rainbows are headed our way, it can be easy to forget about God and thank Him for where you are.  But when we have reached the end of our rope, the end of ourselves, and are given no other choice but to rely on His strength for every physical, mental, social, and emotional need we have because it has all been taken away from us, that is when we authentically begin to gain intimacy with Him.
To this day, I cannot tell you why these things are happening to my family and me, but I do not believe it is because we deserve it or are being punished for some crazy sin.  After all, Jesus already paid the price for all of that when He died on the cross over 2000 years ago.  To this day, I cannot tell you what it feels like to witness your family being ripped apart by drugs, abuse, and alcoholism at the schemes of Satan’s hands.  I cannot tell you why my Father has had to suffer in excruciating pain for the past seven years without an ounce of it getting better, or why the medication that Doctors have put him on has turned him into a man that I would never recognize through moods, anger fits, depression, and out of it mentalities.  I cannot tell you why I see their marriage struggling or the pain I feel when I look at my Mom work countless nights to barely make enough money that will never be enough to fix the hundreds of broken things within in our home, let alone within our hearts.  But I can tell you this:
That to this day, I serve a good God who is faithful and knows what we need before we ever speak a word.  That as I sob on my floor praying for Him to bring healing, something within me feels beautifully broken in the arms of His Spirit.  I can tell you that though my family is being torn apart, it is our faith in Christ that is fighting off Satan and His schemes because with the Armor of Christ on our side, all things are possible through His strength (Philippians 4:13).  I can tell you that there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t pray for my Dad, Mom, half-brothers and those struggling to be restored.  That to this day, I still believe we serve a God of miracles, and as much as it pains me to walk through these hills and valleys, I know that I will come out with Jesus on the other side.
I can tell you that it is all just a season, and like all seasons, these times must eventually cease to pass.  But until those moments come, until these seasons transform from death to life, mourning to dancing, hate to love, and war to peace, I will faithfully praise my loyal God because unlike the seasons, He is steadfast, never changing, ever—present in His grace.  Regardless of my circumstances, He remains the same.  Unwavering in love, caring in character, providing in nature and exact in times of need, even if it is just a season.