I've been trying to write this post in my head for almost two weeks, and to be honest, it just really hasn't come together! As I shared previously, I was fortunate to attend a women's retreat sponsored by my friend Erica's church the first weekend in April. Nancy Guthrie shared some poignant and challenging thoughts on the topic of hope in the hard places, and used the book of Job as the cornerstone of her series. When I came back from the retreat, Spencer asked me about what I learned and what stuck out to me. Truthfully, I had a hard time answering... not because I didn't know, but because I was still processing so much of what Nancy shared. And even still, I find myself challenged by what she shared as we looked deeply into the life of Job. While I was pregnant with Isaac, I found myself reading through Job quite frequently. I felt so drawn to his story, and even more so to the way in which he responded to his sorrow and suffering. I was particularly comforted by the fact that this righteous man grieved so deeply and so openly. He didn't just grieve inwardly and give an appearance of having it all together on the outside; he grieved outwardly, too... fully revealing the depth of his sorrow (Job 1:20). Nancy shared with us that, "Real faith doesn't minimize how much loss hurts, but magnifies how sufficient God is." And I would add that He is the only thing that is sufficient enough to carry you through deep sorrow. What I found particularly challenging was this: after Job openly revealed the depth of his sorrow... he worshipped God. Job 1:20-21 says: "At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” I remember how hard it was for me to want to worship God. I remember not being able to sing songs in church, and I remember how the upbeat, cheery songs would almost make my stomach turn because I was aching so, so deeply. I think, though, that my view of what it means to worship when I first considered Job's response was a bit too narrow. Because truly, I believe that worship isn't just singing on Sundays. It isn't just singing along to Christian music in the car. True worship stems from remembering who we are in light of who God is, and we respond to Him in that proper place. And so those times when I cried myself to sleep, begging God to just be near? That's worship. The times when all I could do was open my Bible and read, yearning to find words of comfort and hope there? Countless times when even though I couldn't sing one word to one song in church because I was sobbing too hard to get any words out, but I stood up with the rest of the congregation anyway? That's worship. Nancy shared with us that as Christians, we worship because God is worthy, not because we feel like it... and in that, we find that God often then changes our feelings. I know that has been true for me. A few other great nuggets from Nancy as she walked us through the book of Job: - Genuine faith is revealed when we hold on to what is true about God, even when we suffer. - Goodness and godliness are no guarantee that we will not have to suffer. - The same circumstances that Satan uses to get us to reject God are often the same things that God uses to draw us closer to Himself. - God's love is an active commitment to our ultimate good and eternal happiness. - (In some cases), rather than providing healing, God will provide Himself. - Suffering provides us the opportunity to move from knowing about God, to knowing God in an intimate way. And she left us with this question: Has the suffering in your life allowed your faith to be proved genuine? It is my hope to be able to answer with an honest "yes."