So I was going through some of my pictures, trying to pick out one or two to use for this post. I came across these I took on a summer outing to a local trail park with my husband and grandsons a couple of years ago. The dandelion reminded me of when I would pick one when I was little and try to bring it to my mother. It always made me almost want to cry when all the little thingies blew off before I could get it to her. But now, looking a little closer, I decided it would be perfect for what I want to discuss in this post…the story of Job, one of the “Dwellers” in the Bible, as was the subject of the message brought this past Thursday night at our church. If you think about it, all those little “flyers” that float through the air when you blow on it (my youngest grandson still likes to do this) could represent all of the things that Job lost during his trials, his family, his health, and everything he had. Actually, we’d probably need a hundred or so of them to more accurately represent his losses. After a child or someone blows on it, all that is left is the stem…just the way many of us have felt at times in our lives, right?
Now, more than ever before, God’s people are going through difficult trials, and Jesus said that during the last days it would be this way (See Matthew, ch. 24 and Mark, ch. 13). Being realistic, most of us will go through traumatic events, tragedies, and difficult times at some point in our lives, and all too often, we turn to man-made solutions, and everything else but God. I’ll be the first to admit, I have done this, more than I’d care to admit. Now, I am learning, more than ever, what it means to really “cast our cares upon Him” (see 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22). My faith has grown in leaps and bounds since I have learned to pray for others in my church family and community, and not just myself and my family (see Romans 2:11, Galatians 6:2, Phil. 2:2-4).
Most of us have to admit that at one time or another, we’ve referred to ourselves or someone we love as a “modern day Job”. But have we really taken the time to read the book of Job and take into consideration all that he went through? Better still, for those of us who feel we have endured similar circumstances where we’ve suffered such significant loss that it’s left us feeling hopeless, like nothing matters anymore, what could Job teach us? How could we learn from his story and how he handled it all? Perhaps we would be more inspired to learn from him if we were to read his story and see how his faith paid off in the end. Truthfully, I can’t think of a better one to learn from than Job, if we ever have to face a time when there’s nothing left…
Would You Still Trust Him? Have You Been “Considered”? (If you are serving Christ, and you haven’t, you most likely will be)…
First, before I go any further, let me give a special shout out to my sister in Christ, Rev. Tamika Williams, who inspired this post. She brought a powerful message on the “Dwellers” of the Bible this past week at our church. Basing it on Psalm 91:1-2, she named several throughout the Bible who were dwellers, men who chose to dwell securely in their faith in God, and saw His answers to their prayers.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” – Psalm 91:1-2
During the message, she gave a challenge for us to go and read the book of Job, and learn from it, and perhaps post what we learn. So, being one who loves to accept a challenge, the next day, I did just that. Then too, I am a writer, this is what I do. But I must give credit where it is due. I have to say, I woke up Friday morning with some things coming to me about this, and I just had a knowing that God was placing it in my heart to do this.
Soooo… after starting my day in our prayer room, and my husband and I had finished our morning devotions, I sat there and read the entire book. I want to say I have read it before, but it’s been a while, so I went ahead and read it through again. In reflecting on Job’s story after I had read it, some interesting points came out to me. As I prayed about it and thought it over, I found that it spoke volumes on trusting God in the midst of suffering and trials, and paints a picture of a man who remained steadfast in his faith and love for God, all the way through to the end.
In all that he suffered throughout this whole trial, yet Job never cursed God. As Sister Tamika brought out in her message, we have to each ask ourselves, could we still love God and stand strong in our faith and loyalty to Him if we were to be considered as Job was? (See Job, chapter 1.) Would our faith stand strong through the trial, as his did? Would we still love Him and trust in Him, even if we reach that point that there was nothing left? Then too, this can happen in many different ways, divorce, job loss, divisions in the family, debilitating accidents (such as the one I went through, click here for more info on my upcoming book) as well as tragedy.
To summarize the book of Job: As the book begins, two times, the devil goes before the Lord, and each time, the Lord asks him if he has considered Job: “Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” – (ch. 1, vs. 8). He is told that all that Job has is in the devil’s power, only do not lay a hand on his person. So, Job loses his livestock, his servants, and all of his children. Then, of course, the devil cannot resist, so going back before God the second time, he gains permission to further torment Job, and so, Job loses his health. As the story unfolds, Job is then visited by his three “friends” who proceed to voice their opinions on the matter, accusing him of being a hypocrite, speculating as to whatever great sin Job has committed to deserve all of these calamities that have befallen him. All three are convinced he has to have committed some terrible sin against God to bring all of this on himself. Yet none of them are getting anywhere, as he has something to say each time, so they finally give up. Then, finally, when they’re done, another young man is angered and decides to get his two cents worth in. He is angry at the other three because they have condemned Job without cause, having found no answers (his “rant” begins in ch. 32), and at Job because he “justified himself rather than God”.
Meanwhile… God is just waiting patiently for all of these to get through, and in chapter 38, it says He answers Job out of a whirlwind, and His response, His challenge to Job, is recorded in chapters 38 through 41. I found this part quite interesting. Here are the first 5 verses: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!” Job’s response quickly follows in chapter 42, verses 1-6:
Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”
In the end, Job repented of his anger and hasty answers before God, and so God forgave him, and let the other 3 know that His wrath was aroused against them (chapter 42, verses 7-9). God also restored to Job twice as much as what all he had lost, after he had prayed for his friends. Interestingly enough, in verse 16, it says Job lived after all of this one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations.
Interesting Points: 5 Things We Can Learn From Job…
- Faith in our Redeemer… In chapter 19, verses 25-27, in answer to Bildad, the Shuhite’s accusations, basically insinuating that he “doesn’t know God”, (thus, all of this befalling him), Job makes it plain that even after all God has allowed him to go through, he still proclaims his faith in his redeemer: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Are we building up our faith in Him through studying His word and staying in prayer and fellowship with Him, so that if we were to go through such a trial, our faith in Him would remain unshakable? The key is to keep trusting Him, no matter what, and not listen to our “flesh”. Job saw beyond the flesh, choosing instead to focus on the end result, as we can clearly see by his response here.
- Trusting God’s Righteous Judgments… It is interesting to read the “rant” from Eliphaz the Temanite in chapter 22, then note Job’s response in chapter 23, especially in verses 10 -12, where he clearly lets him know he trusts in God’s righteous judgments: “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.” Do we trust Him no matter what? More than anything or anyone else? Job knew there obviously had to be something God wanted him to learn through all of this. He knew that even though he couldn’t understand it, or why it was all happening, He trusted in God’s righteous judgment in allowing it, and He trusted that God would work it all out for his good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Isaiah 55:11 further confirms this: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” His word will not return to Him void! All things work together for our good, no matter how hard the devil tries to make us think otherwise. Job believed in what he could not yet see (see Hebrews 11:1), and that faith worked for him, just as it will for us. Just as in Job’s case, what the devil intends to destroy us, God will use to make us stronger, AND, He will vindicate us for our losses, and turn it all into a powerful testimony, if we only trust Him, even through the pain.
- Repenting for his family/children… Going back to the beginning, in chapter one, (this was also brought out in Sister Tamika’s message), Job would regularly offer burnt offerings for them all (before the time of Christ on earth), so he regularly prayed to God on their behalf. How many of us, when we feel we have been wronged, whether by friends, co-workers, or even family, can we pray and repent on their behalf? Note again here, in the end, in that last chapter, Job’s losses were restored to him, even more children, after he had prayed for his three friends and forgiven them himself, basically repented on their behalf. Of course, we know those who have wronged us will have to repent on their own to God, but again, Job’s vindication came from God, for all he had suffered, not only after his own repentance, but in offering the prayers for forgiveness for his friends, as if you read God’s initial response to them in chapter 42, verses 7-8: And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”
- God Knew the Devil Would Lose this Battle… We have to remember here, that God knew how this whole thing was going to turn out from the beginning. In reading chapter one, we have the conversation between God and the devil: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” Clearly, the devil thought he would no doubt, win this whole thing, and get Job to turn against God. But think about it. He is clearly being offered a chance to get at the most Godly and faithful man there was, on earth even! Yet, through it all, it says in verse 22: “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Even in chapter 2, verse 10, (after being struck with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head) when his wife asks why doesn’t he just curse God and die, he answers: “…“You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” It further reads, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”. And even through all the torment he went through with the “debate” with his three “friends” and all their accusations and speculations, and his defense rants he retorted back to them, yet his faith was never shaken. Why should it be? He knew God Himself was his “Attorney”, and that His judgment was the only one that mattered. Throughout all that he lost, he never cursed God, and in the end, after he prayed for his friends and forgave them, even as he knew God had forgiven him once, God restored to him twice all that he had lost. Job’s faith was tested in the fiery furnace, and because he never lost faith in God, (as God well knew that he wouldn’t) and indeed, continued to praise him, even after the loss of his children, his health, his wealth, and everything, he came out “as fine gold”, just as he had said he would (ch. 23, vs. 10-12). He did, and we will too, if we keep our faith, and our focus, on our Redeemer, and not what others say. Like Job did, we must place our trust in the One Who laid the foundations of the earth, and what His word says about us, not what our naysayers think.
- The Boils – What We Can Learn From His Pain… If you’ve ever known anyone who has had them, they are no doubt likely some of the most painful kind of sores you can get. As I woke up and went into the prayer room that morning, the Lord brought to my mind an insightful comparison on this. If you apply this in a spiritual context, many of us are walking around with deep emotional wounds that we’ve managed to hide, even from ourselves. Only after going through some fiery trials myself during the past few years have I finally begun to see this. Like many others, sometimes it seems after a “wound” is almost “healed”, there is always something else that happens, or is thrown upon us, or someone who hurts us, in a way that seems to “rip the scab” off again, leaving us “bleeding” emotionally, or in a spiritual sense. We can’t understand why it happens, after we’ve prayed about it, fasted, and prayed some more, yet still, it happens. Many times, instead of really trusting God, we say we’ve prayed about it, but then, we still keep “nursing it”. No doubt Job, in his initial discourse, was in enough pain to regret the day he was born. Yet, like Job, we must remember, God, our Healer and loving Heavenly Father, will bring us through these painful trials, and bring us healing and deliverance, in His time, not ours. In my own personal experience, I found myself at times, feeling sorry for myself, (even sometimes, calling it “prayer”), in effect, “nursing” those wounds again, when it finally occurred to me the more I sought the word and prayed about it, that He can’t “heal” all those old wounds I’ve been covering up and hiding, even from myself, until I completely turn it all over to Him. Then, there won’t be an old “wound” for the scab to be ripped off to start with! When we get in the word, believe it, and speak it over our situation, this breaks the enemy’s power to use it over us any longer! God wants to heal all those old wounds in our hearts, and use it all to make us stronger, but we have to open the door of our hearts and let Him in so He can!
When There is Nothing Left…
In reflecting on my own journey through life, I’ve gone through some “Job” trials, and before it’s all over, no doubt, I will go through more. Jesus said as long as we are on the earth, we will have trials. In John 16:33, He said: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”. At age twelve, I lost my nine year old brother, Charles, in a tragic freak accident, and at twenty, I was in a horrific automobile accident that almost took my own life. The road to recovery for me was a long and hard one, and because of the choices I made early in my life, it was a lot harder. There were times I almost threw in the towel. Even in more recent trials I have gone through as I work toward getting my books finished and preparing for my ministry, I have had times I felt like that. Yet, through God’s grace I am still here. We will go through those fiery trials as long as we are on this earth as we work while we await our Lord’s return. But if we never lose faith in our Redeemer, and trust His righteous judgments as Job did, and open our hearts so He can go in and heal all of those old “wounds”, study His word, and let it build our faith, it is then that we will have developed the truly unshakable faith that Job had. It is then, as we are passed through the fire, that the impurities are removed, all those weaknesses we had before are purged out, and then that we will come out tried as fine gold. Yet, in His infinite wisdom, God knows that sometimes, it is in reaching our lowest valleys in this life, when we feel we have lost everything, when there is nothing left but God Himself, that we finally see that He is all we need. Perhaps that is what motivated the previous residents of our home to put this on the wall in our laundry room: “When you have nothing left but God, you become aware that God is enough”. Job’s point, exactly.