Although the weather had demonstrated otherwise, we are exiting the spring season. In the church, spring means the Lenten season and Easter are upon us. Spring also means flowers, the smell of grass clippings when maintenance decides to mow the lawn at 5:30am, and for many, the end of the school year.
Then comes summer. Depending on what stage of life you are in, summer can mean a wide variety of things. Speaking from the perspective of a student, summer means extra cash, sunshine, adventure, and most importantly, sleep. Summer leads into fall, and although the cooler weather indicates the end of freedom and the beginning of school, it also signifies more serious things like a fresh start and the changing of the leaves and more petty things like pumpkins and oversized sweaters. Over time, fall changes into winter. The colorful leaves disappear, rain changes into snow, and Starbucks Peppermint Mochas once again find a home in our waistlines and our wallets.
We find so much joy in the uncontrollable, seasonal events of creation, even amidst the parts we don’t necessarily like as much as the others. With the coming of each season, we look forward to the gladness and the change that it will bring, whether that is butterflies, sunshine, pumpkins, or snow. We accept that the season is something we cannot control, and instead of moping for three months about cooler weather, snow, and ice, we find a way to embrace the season, knowing that a new season—spring—will come soon.
Yet, we are so slow to find the joy and beauty in the uncontrollable seasonal events and changes of our own lives—we are much better at finding the sorrow and the pain.
Perhaps your family has struggled financially in the past few months or maybe you have just recently ended a relationship and it seems as though this season of lacking and emptiness has no purpose and will never end. Perhaps you can think of a few unexpected changes in your own life that have caused you to enter a season of life you would rather do without.
In the Old Testament, Job was dealt a few unexpected changes, and I think we can learn a lot from the way he handled his situation. Job was a cool guy (I even named a former pet fish after him)—he was a somewhat wealthy farmer who was considered “blameless—a man of complete integrity” (1:1).
One day, Satan noticed these honorable characteristics of Job, and approached God himself, saying the only reason Job remains blameless, full of integrity, and God-fearing is because he is wealthy and the Lord has always provided for him. Satan says to God himself, “You have made him prosper in everything he does” (1:10b).
So, Satan is given permission to test Job to try to prove that without his riches he will become weak and curse the name of God. God says, “All right, you may test him…do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically” (1:12). What follows are four messages, all of which bring unexpected seasonal change into Job’s life (check out 1:14-19 and then keep reading!).
If I were in Job’s shoes and were told even just one of those pieces of news, I would probably be upset, bitter, and angry. These aren’t the type of changes that you adjust your schedule or cancel plans for—these changes begin a new, unexpected season in the life of Job. But in verse 22, it says, “In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.”
Next, Satan and God chat again and Satan receives permission to test Job one more time. This time Satan attack’s Job’s health—he is covered in boils from head to toe.
I would venture to say that Job had a difficult time believing that any sort of good could emerge from his sad situation. He begins to question the justice and goodness of God and become angry at his circumstances.
I wonder, when we experience unwanted change—what do we focus on?
First, we could focus on the circumstances of our season itself. We could focus on they way our season makes us feel—probably negatively. Or, we could focus on the purpose of the season.
Think about the trees outside. When it gets too cold, the plant tissue in their leaves die, so if the tree wants to keep itself alive, it has to sort of say goodbye to the leaves and let them fall to the ground. Seems a little selfish, right?
Except, when the leaves fall from the tree to the ground, they are decomposed into nutrients that give new life to the surrounding ground and the roots of the very tree that let them go. The tree lives another year. But, the tree doesn’t just survive—it thrives. Every change has a purpose.
In the same way, Job saw no purpose to his trials and tribulations, but if the purpose were revealed right from the start, do you think he would have grown as much in his faith and as a follower of Christ?
Ultimately, Job recognizes God’s sovereignty, goodness, and power, and is humbled by God’s mercy. His belongings, family, and wealth, are restored and doubled—the season is over.
There are three things I believe unwanted change does for us. First, they require us to depend on our community. Whether it is through prayer, financial support, or even food. Next, they require us to depend on God. Lastly, they remind us of God’s righteousness, love, and omnipotence.
Each season has a purpose—how is God using the seasons of your life to strengthen you? How can you use your season to encourage others?
Megan Smith, Young Adult Council Member, Student at Eastern University
Article written for The PRESS, Young Adult Newsletter