05 May

From toys and joys to pain and suffering

I have never met anyone who was ever willing to trade places with the biblical character Job.

Let’s face it, Job was one of the good guys and despite wearing a white hat and playing by the rules, he was taken through the ringer.

So much for keeping your nose clean! Job was burned and burned bad. Despite his circumstances, when his mettle was tested, he proved to be the man everyone thought he was. He was a Romans 8:28 guy before Rome was a developing country!

Not that anyone would ever hope to face the challenges he endured but Job chapter two gives a ton of insight and perspective on how to live like Job.

The first thing we learn is that we have an unseen enemy. A punk really, who patrols the earth looking for people to torment, aggravate and take out of the game.

We see references to this reality in other parts of scripture.

1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Should we ever question why we are having a bad day, now we know of at least one possible source for all of our trouble.

Job calls Satan the Accuser, such a fitting name and one well suited for his approach even today.

Job was a blameless man of complete integrity. He was a man who stayed away from evil and worked to maintain his integrity.

There is much to learn in these descriptions. We gather he was an upstanding citizen, an Eagle Scout kind of guy. The kind of person who lived by the code and creed but with grace and mercy. Nonjudgmental but with absolute unquestioned integrity.

We learn that he worked to maintain this reputation. He didn’t take it for granted and he was so disciplined, that he wouldn’t even go near evil.

Nonetheless, the Accuser claimed Job was a softy and that God had made it easy for him. The Accuser claimed that if Job lost all his toys and joys he would curse God and die.

The line in the sand was drawn and there was only one way to find out. Short of death, God allowed the thief, the Accuser, the punk, to unleash on Job.

Job literally lost it all. His health, wealth, family, friends and security. At one point his wife asked him why he continued to try and maintain his integrity. His friends told him it was time to clean up his act. Talk about a one, two knock out punch! What a discouraging series of low blows. Despite the discouragement, Job carried on.

Job’s response is best summed up when he found these words, “Should we only accept good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”

I have to admit, this is a hard pill for me to swallow. Like me, plenty have asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I believe the answer is found in the deeper meaning of Job’s response. Like Jacob’s son Joseph, he came to recognize that what the Accuser intends for evil, The Lord will use for good.

No matter what comes our way, we can have the confidence that pain will never be wasted, suffering will not go unnoticed and come what may, our lives have a higher purpose than we may ever know.

Job recognized the principle of Romans 8:28. That in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

Having such a mindset requires trust and courage. When we do, James 1:2-4 begins to take on deeper meaning. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

The Accuser may have taken Job’s toys but he never stole is joy. When he was left with nothing, it was then that he recognized he truly had all he needed. God alone was enough to sustain him. His integrity was maintained an he proved to be the man he claimed to be.

May we too be found so faithful. While I hope I am never tested like Job, I do hope the fabric of my life has been weaved with qualities and attributes found in his life.

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