“He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. (Job 9:7-8)
Last summer we took a trip to the beach in Nags Head, North Carolina where we stayed in a beautiful beach house with some friends. I took a lot of walks on the beach during that week and my favorite thing to collect was shells that washed up along the shore. My favorite shells were small fragments that had likely been tossed by the waves for months or even years. The surf had worn down the rough edges making them perfectly smooth but the tell-tale striations of the shell remained perfectly clear. I collected several of these shells each day and came home with a whole bag. Every time I look at them I am reminded of the beautiful metaphor of God shapes us by tossing us in the waves.
For those who are participating in the Bible Read Through, we read the book of Job this week. In Job, we see a man rocked by huge waves. Everything he had was taken from him including his fortune, his family and his health. Job spends a lot of time questioning man’s relationship with God and how man can ask for God’s justice. I imagine Job must have felt like a shell getting tossed by the giant waves of the ocean. As he struggled he asked a lot of “whys” yet he still remained focused on God, pursuing wisdom and avoiding evil, eventually realizing he couldn’t fully fathom what God was doing. Yes, God created the waves but He also had ultimate power over them. In the end, Job’s health and fortune were restored to a state that was better than where he started. The end of the book doesn’t expand beyond this but I wonder how amazing Job’s relationship was with God for the rest of his years on earth. Job must have had an enormous amount of peace knowing that God was on his side – all he had to do was trust.
My life challenges have been nowhere near the suffering that Job endured but they still, for a short period, left me feeling lost, frustrated, angry and asking those “why” questions. In college I had a time where I very clearly heard God tell me “no” in a certain area of my life. I remember thinking that I needed to listen but it was the first time in my life that it hurt to obey God. In hindsight, the next few months were one of the times I have felt closest to God; where God shaped my character and I grew a tremendous amount in my faith. God smoothed out some of my rough edges and built my trust in Him through times like that. I’m sure there will be hard times to come, but I hope that as I’m tumbling in the waves I can imagine how beautifully God is shaping me – like the smooth edges of my shells.
Sarah can be reached via email here.