Read: Job 4:1-7:21, 1 Corinthians 14:18-40, Psalm 37:30-40, Proverbs 21:27
Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant my desire. I wish he would crush me. I wish he would reach out his hand and kill me. (Job 6:8-9)
Relate: I’m allergic to raccoons. Not just raccoons, cats and dogs, mostly dogs, cows and horses, even pigs. I know all this from exposure. Even the raccoons.
It was the summer between sixth and seventh grade. We were living at a campground for a couple months because we had sold our house but were still waiting to close on the house we were to purchase. So in the intervening time, I lived a junior high boy’s dream. From around Labor Day to Columbus Day my home was a tent, my oven a campfire and my backyard the mountains and trails and lakes that were Green Lakes State Park.
Apparently, one day while no one was around, a raccoon decided to take a nap in my sleeping bag. He came in, took his nap, and left sometime in the afternoon while everyone was off at school or work. That night I crawled in to go to bed, and things started going south real fast. While I was sleeping, asthma kicked in and eventually, the pain woke me. Since I was tired and wasn’t getting enough air I wasn’t thinking straight. All I knew was that I had to fight for each breath, my back hurt, my chest hurt, and I really thought I was going to die. All night long. I remember praying something along the lines of “God, I’m ready to go home, but I’m not ready for this. Just please, hurry up and get it over with.”
React: It is the memory of that night that I go back to when I think of Job. He was suffering the trauma of riches to rags, but far more the pain of losing all of his children. As if that was not enough, he had a terrible rash, boils, all over his body and the prescribed painkiller was to cover himself in ash and try to soothe the pain with broken pottery. Even his own wife had asked him to just curse God and die.
I cannot imagine the pain and anguish that tormented his soul as he cried out to God while simultaneously arguing with his friends. He really did expect to die. There are moments in his speeches that can only be read from that light. Even more than an end to his misery, he wanted an explanation for it. He wanted justice. From deep within the pain and torment afflicting his pain and his soul, Job was crying out, “Why?” The closest I can come to understanding Job’s pain was the night when I fought minute by minute, breath by breath to simply inhale and then exhale. Inhale, and then exhale. I too spent much of that battle asking God why.
I don’t have all the answers. I never will. I’m not You. I don’t know why I’ve seen some people have to go through such unspeakable pain. I don’t know why I’ve had to suffer even the small dose I have had in my time. But I do know why You suffered. It was for me. When I am going through times of extreme trial, help me to be open and honest with the pain in my heart and body. Help me to also, like Job, be able to say, “Despite the pain, I have not denied the words of the Holy One.”
[I have left this devotional from six years ago completely unedited but it does not tell the whole story. It is like a time capsule to a completely different part of my life. Roughly six months after writing this I was preaching at my church on fasting. During the message, I shared that among other things I was praying for I believed that one day eventually God would heal me from my debilitating asthma. It is easy to say that from the pulpit but after the service, a man came up and said he had been healed from asthma thirty some odd years back and would it be OK if he prayed for me? This guy was fairly new to the church and honestly, he came off as a bit of a flake but I did the polite thing and said sure. He prayed. I felt nothing. I expected nothing. I thought nothing happened.
The next I was walking over to Barnes and Nobles after work. There’s a pet shop nearby and I felt God saying, “You prayed for it, try me.” Why not. I went in. Normally I could stand five minutes tops in a place like that before my breathing started going south. I was in there randomly walking around for over thirty. In for a dime, in for a dollar, I asked if it would be OK for me to pet the puppies. They have a separate room for that and I spent about 10-15 minutes more in there playing with dogs. This was the first time in my life I was able to play with dogs to no negative effect and it was all I could do to hold back the tears.
Since that time I have had multiple short and long exposures to different animals. I can say with complete confidence that I have been healed. It was not some gradual thing. It was not something dramatic with great fanfare either. Very simply, completely instantaneously God has taken my asthma away and replaced it with an undeniable proof that He is a good God who is still in the healing business.]