Christianity, Discouragement, Encouragement, Experiencing God, Faith, Habakkuk, Idealism, Integrity, Isaiah, Job, Life's Trials, Pain, Paradise, Perseverance, Righteousness, Satan, Suffering, Trust, Worship
Consider my servant, Job.
The man wore a target. And there was one who took immense pleasure in aiming and striking—with violent hatred.
Ours is only an earthly view, but behind the veil a spiritual confrontation took place. (Similar confrontations take place daily, and have so since the beginning of time.)
The challenge was made, accepted, carried out.
How many weeks, how many months did Job suffer? We are not told. Yet, suffer he did.
God gave him no warning of the coming storm… no word of comfort while he suffered… no explanation as to the reasons for allowing the atrocities.
And Job was a good guy—the very model of good guy.
Righteous. Blameless. Selfless. Man of integrity. Devoted husband, father, friend… faithful believer in the One true God.
Yet, Satan accused him of serving for selfish motives. Predicted Job’s response would result in cursing when all he owned was taken away. Just let me at him, and all his righteousness will vanish… he’ll curse you instead—to Your face!
Two times Satan blamed, and two times Job proved him wrong.
Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.
And he said: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. – Job 1:20-22
Even in losing everything, Job trusted. He blessed. He worshiped.
He didn’t quit, didn’t look for someone to blame, didn’t file a lawsuit, didn’t end his life… Actually, he didn’t do a number of things he could have done, things you or I might have done.
How much of our Disney-infused, success-oriented, American prosperity-mentality has seeped into believers’ expectations of this life of faith? Just look around…
Our impossible idealism infects us, debilitating-ly so.
Haven’t we noticed how many times in Scripture we are presented with situations, far from ideal? Still we long… ever we strive for the perfect world, wrenched from our grasp in the Garden… yet we continue our useless attempts at recreating Paradise on earth, expecting all to fall in place as we imagine, as we design.
Pain and trial entered the picture, with God’s express permission… tools He uses, by His promise, for our good, transcending evil, sculpting virtue in those who submit… relinquishing our ideals for His.
For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways. – Isaiah 64:4-5
We were made to worship, and when else is worship most sweet than when it is most costly? Our worship conquers skepticism, replaces doubt… sends Satan packing when we chose to ignore his lies, his weasel-y insinuations that God’s goodness falls short of His claims.
When you and I wonder how we will survive this present peril, God’s timeless Word is our guide.
Even today my complaint is bitter;
My hand is listless because of my groaning.
Oh, that I knew where I might find Him,
That I might come to His seat!
I would present my case before Him,
And fill my mouth with arguments…
Look, I go forward, but He is not there,
And backward, but I cannot perceive Him;
When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him;
When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.
But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. – Job 23
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places. – Habakkuk 3:17-19
Trusting His goodness, we can praise Him for Who He is… not for what He does.
We cannot see the whole picture. Yet, when we are intimately acquainted with the Artist, we can know this: the end result will be beautiful beyond description.
And now, finally, we’re very close to reaching the conclusion—
After trusting, and on the impetus of worship, we can learn how to finish well.
To be continued…