Friday, February 6, 2015

a study in Job: how do you respond to adversity? (part 1)


Job..., Ugh.

Nobody likes thinking about the hardships that poor ole' Mr. Job endured, do they? No, we don't want to consider the possibility of Christians facing horrible earthly trials or losing everything we have and everyone we know. Such a life is too difficult to swallow, isn't it?

Instead, we want to live in comfort, peace, rest, love. We want to know God... but only the God who promises to build us up and offer us infinite blessings. Not a God who allows the infliction of tremendous difficulties upon His own faithful servants. No, that's not what we signed up for, is it? But that is exactly what God permits in the book of Job.

Why would God allow bad things to happen to His faithful followers? Let's spend the next few days looking for clues...  Read with me the beginning of Job's story:

One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1:-12)

After this conversation between God and Satan occurs, we read in scripture that in one fell swoop Job loses all his oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, most of his servants, and worst of all, all his children. Can you imagine? Can you picture going about your daily routine and then suddenly receiving the same such news about your own wealth, possessions, and family? How terrible would that be? How defeated and derailed would you feel? I promise you, Job felt the same way you and I would.  Completely devistated!  But read how Job chooses to respond...

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:20-22)

What?  Job praises the Lord?!  Job does not question or blame God for what has happened?!! He does not fall into sin or wrongdoing?!!! WHAT???  No, Job accepts this monumentally difficult moment in full humility and chooses to worship his Creator through the storm. WOW! (I wonder, do we respond the same way in the midst of our own problems? Really, do we?)

But wait. This story is far from over. Read what happens next to poor Job...

On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. (Job 2:1-10)


OK, not only has Job lost just about everything, now Satan has covered his body in disease from head to toe. Not only has his heart been broken by tragedy and terrible loss, Job is now physically living in unbearable pain. In fact, at the end of chapter 2, Job's friends don't even want to talk with him because they see how great he is suffering. How aweful!

Interestingly enough, no matter what has happened to Job, he still chooses to accept God's sovereign reign over his life. No matter who challenges his belief, Job maintains integrity and defends His King's trustworthiness and faithfulness.

Before we move any farther in the study of Job, let's pause today to think about all the difficulties we currently face in our own personal lives and their magnitude compared to Job's challenges. Then, let's consider how we have responded to God in our own trials. Have we questioned if His motives for us are really good? Have we grumbled and complained in our own discomfort and loss? Have we fearfully worried over our future? Have we turned away from the King in anger? OR, have we maintained our spiritual integrity as Job did? Have we chosen to praise and worship the Creator of the universe while accepting every circumstance that comes? Have we humbly, submissively, obediently, faithfully bowed down before God without sinning against the Lord? In every trial... in every pain, have we chosen to live holy in Jesus' Name no matter what?

The book of Job is intended to teach us how to face all adversity and still come out ahead glorifying Jesus. Yes, when Satan conspires against God's beloved and brings to us all forms of catastrophe, God proves through Job that we each can endure and overcome every trial while faithfully glorifying His Holy Name.

So, before we continue in this study, I challenge you to consider Job's example while meditating over chapters 1 and 2 today. Review what this godly man faced. Consider why God would hand over Job's life to Satan so that he might be tormented. Look at the responses of all those around Job. Then, honestly assess how you, in your own life, have chosen to respond toward God and others when things don't go as desired.  How do you respond to adversity, calamity, disaster, affliction, or distress?  Do you blame God?  Do you question His love?

Friends, there is so much for us to learn from Job. More importantly, there is so much to be revealed in Job's story about our mighty and good God and His authority over our lives as He uses us to discredit every scheme brought on by the evil enemy.

Until tomorrow, let's praise and worship the King of kings in every circumstance. No matter what comes our way... good or bad, happy or sad... THIS IS THE DAY TO REJOICE!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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