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When hardship strikes, it's not just the physical pain that weighs on us. Old doubts resurface, new questions emerge, and we find ourselves in a spiritual battle as much as a physical one. The exhaustion we feel isn't just physical; it seeps into our spirits, leaving us drained.

In times of suffering, it's not the raw facts of our pain that dictate our experience but rather our interpretation of those facts. This is why two people can endure the same ordeal yet respond in vastly different ways.

The Book of Job is not a feel-good devotional or a series of comforting platitudes. Job delves into the depths of human suffering because it's a battleground where our beliefs about God are tested and refined.

Amidst physical suffering, it's easy to overlook the spiritual turmoil brewing beneath the surface. Job serves as a poignant reminder that interpreting our suffering shapes the spiritual battle raging within us.

Why does this spiritual battle matter? Because our spiritual well-being, our relationship with Jesus, and even our salvation hang in the balance.

In the book, "The Critical Journey," the authors present a theory of spiritual growth that identifies a crucial stage called "the wall." This is where pain and suffering become undeniable, forcing us to confront them head-on. There are four responses to the wall:

  • Stop
  • Regress
  • Jump Ship
  • Go Through

Unfortunately, many falter at the wall, opting to regress, stop growing, or abandon their faith altogether.

The majority never make it past this wall, their spiritual growth stunted by suffering. I urge you not pick option four: Go Through! I want to equip you to face suffering head-on, to go through the wall and discover the growth from God waiting for you on the other side.

So, how do we fight this spiritual battle beneath our suffering?

Elihu's Perspective

In the book of Job, when Job and his friends reach an impasse, a new voice emerges: Elihu. While Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar clung to the conventional wisdom that good things happen to good people and bad things to bad people, Elihu offers a more nuanced view. He’s still not right, but he slightly modifies how the other three think (good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.) Elihu still thinks Job has done something wrong and misunderstands Job’s motivation. He also assumes he has all the answers (which is the same problem everyone else in the book has.) However, Elihu’s nuances provide important methods for us to fight the spiritual battle beneath our suffering.

What Elihu gets right is Job is being self-righteous. Job has lowered God’s sense of justice and ability to deliver justice to defend his own innocence.

Live as the Victor

Elihu accuses Job of belittling God to elevate himself, a common trap in times of suffering. We're tempted to adopt a victim mentality, viewing ourselves as helpless against either the whims of fate or God’s plan.

If I believe the system is rigged I don’t try as hard because the results are unfair or predetermined. The good news is God’s system is not rigged and he’s not out to get you.

Christians are called to live as victors, not victims, knowing that through Christ, we've already overcome the world's trials. That doesn’t mean everything will be sunshine and rainbows. But it does mean Jesus has overcome the world so nothing can ultimately separate us from God.

Leave Being God to God

Another pitfall Elihu highlights is our tendency to try to play God.

In the comedy Bruce Almighty, Bruce (played by Jim Carrey) is given God’s powers for a few days. Even with those powers, he can’t keep up with everyone’s prayers.

How often have you thought you could do better? Bruce humorously shows us even if we had God’s powers we lack the patience and understanding to run the world effectively.

We can’t do better than God. So, instead of imagining how we would do things we should trust God with what He’s already doing.

Lean Into God’s Discipline

Lastly, Elihu reminds us that suffering can serve as a form of divine discipline. Just as a coach pushes his team through grueling drills to prepare them for game day, so too does God use suffering to shape and refine us. Though it may seem harsh, God's discipline is ultimately an expression of His love, guiding us toward growth and maturity.

If we remember suffering is a spiritual battle we can recognize God's hand at work in our suffering. Suffering often serves as a catalyst for spiritual growth, sparing us from far worse fates and leading us to a deeper understanding of God's love and grace.


In the end, Job commits to trusting in God's sovereignty, knowing that even in the midst of suffering, God is at work for our good.