Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Fly on the Wall

Isn't it funny how God's Word allows us to really be a that proverbial "fly on the wall" so we can learn and observe from watching so many different stories play out like a movie?  I had an opportunity to come to this realization in a time of crisis and I want to share what I watched and learned...

Last week, I felt my world come to a crashing hault. No, it wasn't the car accident my family and I were recently in.  No. It wasn't a financial mistake or a lack of resources (which has so often felt like an unbreakable wall for my husband and me). No. It wasn't the tragic loss of a loved one or the shattering of a lifelong dream.  It was much worse.  The very structure and existence of my family was threatened.  The very make-up and protection of my family was in danger.  There were questions asked and scenarios examined.  Every possible doubt existed for our family.  We were facing a pit of doom and despair. (I am so not exaggerating, here. It was bad and the potential outcomes were really bad!)

It was in this moment of desperation that God gently reminded me of a Bible story I'd heard a long, long time ago.  I felt called to read the Book of Job.  It was the first time that I'd felt called to a particular passage of scripture, and to be honest, it was the first time that I really sought out God's answer to my prayer in His Word.  Before, I'd prayed and believed He would answer, and I'd even read a passage here and there, but had never really felt God telling me exactly where to look for an answer.  In fact, I'd always wondered just how people always seemed to find a specific answer in scripture, because the ability had completely alluded me!

On Friday, January 15, I was led to Job's story.  I began to read about how well-off and blessed Job had been.  Then, I read about Satan asking God to let him "test" Job's faith in God.  Satan was trying to prove a point - no man was so righteous that he wouldn't curse God in the face of extreme suffering. God knew Job's heart and knew that Job would refrain from cursing Him.  He knew it. God had no concerns and no questions, so He allowed Satan to test Job.  Job lost everything. He lost his family, all his loved ones, his livestock, his land, his prosperity. He lost everything!

Still, he did not curse God.  So, Satan approached God (see - he couldn't go to Job on his own).  This time, he received God's permission to strike Job with a horrible physical condition.  One that would burn his skin away and cause extreme pain to Job's body.  Satan assumed that such extreme physical suffering would drive Job into cursing God.  It didn't.  Job questioned why God would allow such suffering to come upon him and wondered how he had sinned against God in order to deserve this type of suffering, but he never cursed God.  Never. (Job, chapters 1-2)

Job had 3 friends, though.  I hadn't remembered this part of the story (which is the bulk of the Book of Job, actually).  These 3 friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) listened to Job talk about how he was suffering and then each chimed in with their two cents.  Each of the three believed that God would only inflict such pain and suffering on a man who was wicked and who had sinned a tremendous sin. These three men pushed and pushed at Job to repent of his unrighteousness against God.  The men assumed that Job had done something evil enough to deserve God's wrath.  They looked for ways that Job had sinned and tried, for several chapters, to persuade him to admit guilt and repent.  Job continued to testify to his innocence, but to call out to God for audience with Him, to plead his case.  (Job, chapters 3-27)

Then, we meet Job's 4th friend, Elihu, and we hear him speak to Job and the other 3 men.  Elihu basically tells them all to "be quiet" because they were speaking without knowledge and understanding.  Elihu tells Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar that they have incorrectly assumed that they knew God's heart and intentions.  He then tells Job that questioning God's judgement is wrong and ignorant.  Elihu points out that God is omniscient and that He makes no mistakes (Job 34:21-28).  He tells Job that God is not answering his pleas or giving him audience because Job's motivation to ask is not right.  (Job 35: 12-13).  Elihu reminds Job and the others that God punishes and rebukes those He loves in order to guide them to repent and be obedient, so He can restore prosperity (Job 36:10-11).

God enters the story in a storm! Wow! What a way to make an entrance.

He points out His majesty and complete ownership over the universe and everything in it.  He points out that He directs the weather, the animals, the plants, and man. Everything is under God's ultimate control.  Oh, and he points this out through a series of rhetorical questions to Job.  (Is it you who does a, b, and c?)  Job is humbled and is no longer quick to speak in order to assert his innocence before God.  He remembers that God knows all of Job's actions and inactions.  The need to testify before God is no longer present for Job. He is submitting to God's judgement and to his lack of understanding over it.  Job NEVER cursed God, like Satan thought he would. Job asked questions and requested God's explanation, but he never cursed God.  In chapter 40, Job is admonished to leave his judgment and vindication up to God, without question (Job 49:8-14)

I can only imagine that Job's friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, stood back in awe and shock at the sight of God and the sound of His voice!  Can you say "foot in mouth?"  My Bible makes the following statement in the footnotes (NIV Study Bible) of Job 42:7-9:

"Despite Job's mistakes in word and attitude while he suffered, he is now commended and the counselors are rebuked. Why? Because even in his rage, even when he challenged God, he was determined to speak honestly before Him. The counselors, on the other hand, mouthed many correct and often beautiful creedal statements, but without living knowledge of the God they claimed to honor. Job spoke to God; they only spoke about God. Even worse, their spiritual arrogance caused them to claim knowledge they did not possess. They presumed to know why Job was suffering."

In the end, Job's prosperity and contentment are restored by God, two-fold. He had more children and lived to 140 years. He had twice as much as he'd had before Satan threw a giant wrench in his wheel.  Job was richly blessed - in love and possessions - and he continued to be righteous before God.  The friends followed God's instructions in his rebuke over them and were forgiven for their mistakes.  All ended well.

Except for Satan, who now knew that a truly righteous man would not curse God, even in times of extreme suffering and pain.

I should also point out that while Job always proclaimed his innocence and righteousness, he never claimed to be sinless!  Remember, no man was ever free from sin except Jesus Christ, himself.  No one!

I learned a lot from watching this story unfold.  In my own time of extreme pain and suffering over the past few days, I was reminded of God's omniscient power and control over EVERYTHING in my life!  I was reminded that He loves me and that He will only allow pain in my life to the point that I can stand it.  I understood that God doesn't cause pain and suffering, but he may allow it so that we may learn a bigger lesson from it all. I also learned that sometimes, those we turn to for counsel, fail to speak God's truth in our lives and that men can be quick to judge and assumptions.  I was reminded that God's truth will be revealed and that He, and only He, can restore His followers to prosperity.  I was reminded that even though we sin, God loves us.  He loves us unconditionally - unlike man, who only love us when it feels "right".  I was reminded that only God will administer punishment that truly fits the crime and that we can always depend on God to be just and fair.


Yesterday, January 19, we received the news that our pain and suffering is over.  Now, we can move on and try to regain some sense of understanding over these circumstances. Praise God!  He truly led us out of the darkness and into His light and we have more faith in Him than ever before!!!!

Thank you, Lord, for showing me just how You lead people to your Word and reminding me how much You love us, even in our times of suffering. Thank you for showing me how to turn to You for support and encouragement, over man, because I can always depend on You for truth, love, and fairness! Amen. 

No comments:

Post a Comment