During this season of Lent, we journeyed together through the Book of Job. It’s a story of suffering, faith, questions, and one man who cries out to God in the midst of heartbreaking affliction.
I’ve shared stories of “suffering well” with you, from Sojourners at each of our campuses and from brothers and sisters that have come to know Christ through Sojourn International, our missions ministry.
Here is one more in this week before Easter, known as Holy Week in the Christian Calendar. This testimony comes from Kristen Gilles, one of our worship leaders at Sojourn New Albany. The Sojourn Music band has recorded the new song “Bless The Lord Who Gives And Takes,” based on the Book of Job. Kristen wrote the song with her husband Bobby after losing their newborn. We’ll release “Bless The Lord Who Gives And Takes” as a free download soon.
“My dear friend, when grief presses you to the dust, worship there! . . . Remember the exhortation of the Psalmist David, “Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Ps. 62:8). When you are bowed down beneath a heavy burden of sorrow, worship and adore God there. In full surrender to His divine will, say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). This kind of worship subdues the will, arouses the affections, stirs the whole mind, and presents you to God in solemn consecration. This worship sweetens sorrow and takes away its sting.
– Charles Spurgeon, Beside Still Waters
When I first read these words I imagined myself literally pressed to the ground, with a mouth full of dust, crippled under the weight of an immovably heavy burden of grief, specifically the suffering brought on by the unexpected death of my infant son, Parker, who was stillborn after living 42 weeks in my womb. Then I imagined myself mustering praises to God from this posture in my current assignment of suffering. With my face smashed against the ground and struggling between breaths I pursed my lips in praise, declaring the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord who had saved me and saved Parker and has been our Refuge all of our days.
What I’ve just described is precisely how I felt the day that Parker was stillborn and in the following days, weeks and months. As difficult as this season of suffering has been, when I consider the goodness and love of the Lord, I am convinced that the most appropriate response for us is to praise the Lord. He proved Himself to be faithful and true long before He ordained this suffering in our lives. He hasn’t broken any of His promises or abandoned our souls to the grave. He has been our shield, our strength, our healing, our help, and our exceedingly great reward. He has demonstrated thoroughly that He is who He says He is; and He is worthy to be praised and loved and trusted.
This worshipful response has not been empowered by any denial of the pain pressing on my heart, nor is it made possible by my “amazing” faith. This response is fueled by the life that I now live hidden in Christ, the Man of Sorrows who suffered in my place and bore all of my sorrows and pain in His own body when He was killed upon the Cross, punished for MY sins. Because of Christ, I am able to worship the God who loved the world so much that He gave His only Son to take away the sins of the world. Jesus gave His life for me and He took away all my condemnation and shame; He canceled once and for all the record of my insurmountable debt of sin! Because of Christ, I will bless the Lord who gives and takes.
“Lord, You gave and You took,
Somehow for our good;
Our eyes burn with tears
But they turn to You:
“Help is coming from our God who saves,
Who has numbered all our days,
Bless the Lord who gives and takes!
Man of Sorrows, You have borne our pain,
You have suffered in our place,
Bless the Lord who gives and takes!”