Posted by: Mark | July 28, 2010

Lessons from Job V

This is a series and the first post is here.

Lessons from Job for when we go through trial

5. Suffering reveals why we love God

Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” Job 1.9-11

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
   and I will be naked when I leave.
   The Lord gave me what I had,
   and the Lord has taken it away.
   Praise the name of the Lord!” Job 1.21

Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. Job 2.3-4

But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. Job 2.10  

Hopefully most people read my last post on this topic and agreed with me that the health/wealth theology that I mentioned there is complete dung. It is not logical or biblical and as a result is not to be trusted.

However, can we really say we don’t love God because of what we have until we don’t have it?

I am a privileged person. I have lived my life as a privileged person. When I lived in the west my level of privilege was not as apparent as it is now that I live in Asia. I have blogged before about how rich I am as a westerner. I have a university degree, money in the bank and do not want for food. I am well off. I am rich. How would I react if all of this was taken away? How would I react if God took away life from one of my children or my wife? As morbid as it may sound I have often thought about these things. And to be honest, although I would like to think that I would praise God while in these circumstances, I do not know until I am in them.

I blogged a while back about a pastor called Matt Chandler who is currently being treated for brain cancer. Before he was diagnosed he preached in his church about suffering and how we should honor God within it. He was preparing his church for suffering but in God’s providence he is now suffering with possible terminal cancer. It is a joy to listen to him and his wife as they honor God in this circumstance. He is someone who is living out what he preached.

What can we do to prepare ourselves for when we will suffer so that our joy will be rooted in God and not the things he has given us? What can we do if we now find ourselves in a situation where we are tempted to curse God because of our suffering?

I would timidly and humbly suggest the following things. I say timidly and humbly as I speak as a person who has suffered relatively little in his life. I simply say things here that I am doing in my life to hopefully prepare myself should God lead me through harder times.

Meditate on who God is

Think about how great God is as a creator, sustainer, judge, redeemer, shepherd, king, provider, Lord and God. Think about the love He has professed for mankind in His word. Think about the awesomeness of the understanding that the infinite one true God seeks the worship and adoration of humans – His created humans. Be awed by God. Be amazed by God. Be surprised by God. Be speechless and dumbstruck when you think about how great God is. And never stop discovering new things about him. When you look at creation take an avid interest and praise God for creating it. When God gives you a gift, acknowledge him as the giver of all good gifts and praise Him for his love. When you eat a meal always take time to thank God for giving life to the food that we ate so that it would grow and be harvested for us. Praise, worship and adore God constantly. Come to know Him intimately.

Meditate on the promises of God to sustain us

This great God that we should be thinking about and worship has made promises to us that He will be the one to sustain and look after us. We are His children and He will walk with us and sustain us through all times in our lives – good and bad. Think through the following verses 1 Peter 5.7, 1 Cor. 10.13, Psalm 23, Psalm 55.22, Romans 8.28, Matthew 6.25-34, and John 10.27-30. There are of course many many more promises from God – it would be great if you would share your favorites with me.

Meditate on Philippians 1.21

Paul is able to say that for him to live means to worship and love God but to die would be even better. Think through this as concerns your life. Pray through it and meditate on it until you can worship God in all honesty with these words. Until you can say with Paul that the best thing that could happen is that God chooses to bring you home to be with Him.

You can and should love people in this world and things in this world, but, as Christians, God should be the first and largest love and so it should be natural to want to be with Him more than anything else. Know Him so well that the knowledge of His presence is our source of joy and pleasure. Know Him so well that the desire to be with Him out weighs everything else in our lives. Know Him so well that when suffering comes we can say with Job:

Though he slay me I will hope in Him Job 13.15a

I just came across the following quote from John Piper from a sermon entitled “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ Part II” and I thought I would include them here:

All the planets of your life—your sexuality and desires, your commitments and beliefs, your aspirations and dreams, your attitudes and convictions, your habits and disciplines, your solitude and relationships, your labor and leisure, your thinking and feeling—all the planets of your life are held in orbit by the greatness and gravity and blazing brightness of the supremacy of Jesus Christ at the center of your life. And if he ceases to be the bright, blazing, satisfying beauty at the center of your life, the planets will fly into confusion, and a hundred things will be out of control, and sooner or later they will crash into destruction.

… Oh, that the almighty God would help us see and savor the supremacy of his Son. Give yourself to this. Study this. Cultivate this passion. Eat and drink and sleep this quest to know the supremacy of Christ.

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Responses

  1. Psalm 139:
    9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
    10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
    Leaving my comfort zone in the States and going to Davao was for me verse 9. To me it was ‘the uttermost parts of the sea” and I had to trust that God would take care of us there just as he does in the States, that it is only geography and we are in the protective hand of God no matter where we live.


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