Bible teacher, author and speaker Lisa Harper was stirred to study Job after her daughter took a tumble down some stairs just before breakfast one morning.
Harper told the story to an audience of 9,000-plus women gathered in person and online for a release party for her newly published Bible study, Job: A Story of Unlikely Joy (LifeWay). Some 200 women attended the June 26 event at LifeWay Christian Resources’ corporate headquarters in Nashville while thousands more watched online.
Harper recalled being home on a Saturday morning making pancakes for her daughter Missy, who she adopted from Haiti several years ago.
Having called for Missy to come downstairs for breakfast, a few seconds later Harper heard a thud.
Missy had fallen down the stairs and as she wailed in pain, Harper began to panic and cry. It was in that moment she said she realized she doesn’t handle pain well.
“The whole world is suffering,” Harper told Christian recording artist Mandisa, who emceed the event. “As Christ followers, it’s incumbent upon us to learn how to better deal with pain and suffering.”
After Missy’s tumble down the stairs, Harper spent a year studying the book of Job – a man who suffered through the loss of his children, his livelihood and his home, as well as enduring physical affliction. The fruit of Harper’s time spent pouring over this Old Testament book is a seven-session Bible study to help people discover the redemptive aspect of Job’s suffering.
“When Lisa first shared her vision for this study, we were intrigued with her approach to this book of the Bible,” said Faith Whatley, director of adult ministries for LifeWay Christian Resources.
“Most people would view this book as hard to study because it’s impossible to comprehend the pain and loss Job experienced. Lisa’s way of pulling out the unlikely joy in the chapters of Job will give women a fresh approach on how to think about suffering. They will be able to see God working through trials and will give them a deeper faith to tell others about His amazing love.”
And it is through this deep love for Job, Harper said, that God saw fit to test this man of integrity.
“Right out of the gate, God says to the enemy, ‘Have you considered my servant Job?’” she said. “God nominated Job for pain. … Because God knows the end of the story, He knows how Job will walk out of it.”
Just as it is part of the human condition to experience pain and loss, Harper expects for the study to lead to spiritual growth – as God intended.
“Some of the things we go through that are painful [happen] because of the fall [in the Garden of Eden],” she said. “Sometimes, in the course of redemptive history, God is going to allow pain – or even cause it, like He did with Job – to come into your life, but He’s doing it for your good and for His glory.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston, with reporting by Joy Allmond of LifeWay Christian Resources. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)