“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

There’s something final about this statement. There’s overwhelming heartbreak, but there’s also a release of the pain in order to continue onward in hope. I’ve known this saying for a long time. In the midst of long-term, soul-crushing weight, I turned to the verse again today after the Spirit brought it to mind during my journaling. I have been struggling with the concepts of the verse without even realizing it.

When you have such unbearable grief upon you, how on earth are you supposed to just switch to calm trust? This question was at the root of what I was writing.

Then I read the verse fully, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him; yet I will argue my ways to His face.” Job 13:15 (ESV).

Wait. What?

There’s a second part?

And Job’s arguing with God?!

Here is an example of Christian culture taking one part of a verse and highlighting it so much that people lose track of the overarching truth of the passage.

This leads to confusion and feelings of failure when struggling Christians know they are expected to trust God in the midst of the deepest trials in their lives, but they just can’t seem to get to the point of surrender. They hear, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him,” and they just can’t seem to slip the spiritual and emotional switches as quickly as the verse reads.

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They are wading in the valley on the muckiest path ever, continually seeing a glorious path of emotional peace and trust running right next to them. This path still goes through the valley, but it offers safety from all the negative emotions and doubts pummeling them like hailstones. Try as they might, they can’t seem to get to this brighter path.

This second path is an illusion we create because we compare ourselves to others and to perfect standards we cannot attain.

We want to get out of the muck more than we want to keep journeying through the valley.

We see other Christians in similar valleys portray their journey as one of such calmness. They’re OK, and they have no questions. If they ever did, they quickly put them to rest and carried onward onto a brighter path.

For those of us on a mucky path, though, try as we might, our feet are glued to despair and sadness, and we cannot shift our course.

Daily, our minds are flooded with questions, frustrations, outright anger. We also feel condemnation and judgment. Surely we are supposed to be on a better path, or at least we should be past this mess by now. There’s no way a Christian should feel such defeat and desperation. We are supposed to feel trust and safety always! We’re commanded to trust and rest! Why are we still stuck in the mud?!

We build concepts in our minds that divide life into different stages or boxes when life really is such a glorious mixture of human frailty and God’s power. There aren’t two paths in your valley. There is one. Sometimes that path is crowded with sadness, fear, confusion, and internal warfare. Sometimes that path will just be ugly. It will include every type of struggle, and you are not going to handle it very well.

Know why?

Because you aren’t perfect, and God wants to grow you. He must put you through the fire in order to make you your best self. He must train you to process pain and reach rest. This requires suffering. This takes time. Sometimes He grows us by letting us walk through extended periods of grief, questioning, and frustration, and that’s OK. That might be exactly what you need in order to grow as a Christian and ultimately experience more rest and trust in your valleys.

You have to fight through the muck now.

One of the best ways to fight despair is to hope, but sometimes you have to process pain before you can hope again.

Job hoped in God, but he also argued through his grief. Yes, God eventually answered him mightily and Job recognized where his thoughts had been faulty. He came to a place of understanding God, a beautiful place to be, but he got there through speaking to God, wrestling with his reality and God’s character.

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Be encouraged today if this describes your current battle. Know God is with you and He is listening. Hope for a brighter path again soon, one filled with the calming sense of goodness. But know that, if you aren’t there yet, you are not alone. Keep walking forward through the pain and confusion. Seek the Lord and speak with Him. He will come to you, right where you are in the muck.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Alyssa Devall

Alyssa Devall is a Christian, a librarian, and a former middle school teacher. She is married and expecting a baby, with one baby already in Heaven ahead of her. She likes eating food, traveling whenever she can, and cuddling on the couch with her husband in the morning before work. She has long wanted to be a published author, and the death of her first child propelled her to write in order to heal. You can find her writings at alyssadevall.wordpress.com