God never said that life would be easy. There are many setbacks in our lives that we must overcome. We place some of them in the middle of our own path through lapses in our godly thinking and acting. Other setbacks come from other people who suffer from the same and we get blindsided due to active interference from our spiritual adversary.
However, God is bigger than all of that; and He can lift you out of any affliction that you find yourself mired in. There is no better biblical account of this than in the book of Job.
Job is introduced to us as a man of great wealth and one who possesses righteous character – always bent on doing his best to serve God. (Job 1:1 – 3.)
The narrative then shifts heavenward to the throne of God. Satan approaches and tells God that he has been roaming the earth. God responds by asking him if he’d seen His righteous servant, Job. The devil retorts by claiming that Job only acts righteous because He has blessed him so mightily. Moreover, he asserts that if those blessings were stripped away, Job would turn against Jehovah and curse Him.
God is so sure of Job’s righteousness and devotion, that He allows Satan to take away everything Job has, except his life. On the surface, this seems cruel and unjust on God’s part; but God is going to use Job’s upcoming trials and tribulations to show him (and all of us) His glory, in how He honors those faithful to Him and so that He can provide hope and assurance to anyone who is afflicted in life.
The devil takes away all of Job’s material wealth and even his children. How did Job respond? He grieved, as anyone would, but he did not curse God:
And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. Job 1:21, 22. NKJV
(There’s a huge lesson about the fleeting meaning of material things.)
Heavenward, God is pleased with Job. Satan protests, saying that if Job suffered personal injury, he would turn on God. So, he afflicts Job with painful boils.
Job sits in the dirt in resignation. Even his wife screams at him to curse God. Job responds:
“Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:10 NKJV
Life happens. But God never throws things towards you at random. If God is placing something in your way, it has to do with spurring you on towards your highest purpose – love lessons sent repeatedly, until you get it. It’s always about bringing you closer to Him…
Three of Job’s friends come to comfort him, but Job begins to indulge in self-pity. Yet even in his despair, we find jewels of God-inspired wisdom:
“Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in?” Job 3:23 NKJV
I believe that Job was wondering as to why God would bring the good news of His love and salvation to those whose situation would seem to be hopeless. There is no doubt that some people have a rougher time in life than others, with no apparent reason. But it is how we respond to our circumstances that determine whether we expand as a human being.
We must make ourselves available to learn from the lessons that we receive, or from those that others have gotten. I also believe that God uses adversity to bring people to Him.
Job wails again:
“For the thing that I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.” Job 3:25 NKJV
Another great pearl of wisdom. Job was apparently a worrywart – even when things were going his way. Fear leads to worry, worry keeps your fear on the center stage of your mind, and what you think about comes about. You must sweep off that stage and recast it with thoughts of God, His love and abundant provision, and of His protective arms.
After Job’s little fit, his ‘friends’ lambast him – telling him that it is his sins that are the cause of his situation. Job retorts with a little self-righteousness.
A fourth friend shows up and condemns the first three for their attack on Job, tells Job to quit trying to justify himself and adds that he is wasting his time trying to figure out the nature of God.
True enough. God’s big picture will always elude us to some degree because we cannot grasp plans that were made on a universal scale. Yet, God does not leave us totally blind. He tells us what we need to know, to wisely navigate through the part that He wants us to play in His grand design:
“In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction. In order to turn man from his deed, and conceal pride from man, He keeps back his soul from the Pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.” Job 33:15 – 18. NKJV
Finally, the fourth friend tells Job to be patient and wait upon God, keeping his righteousness in the face of duress:
“Although you say you do not see Him, yet justice is before Him, and you must wait for Him.” Job 35:14 NKJV
“He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous, but with kings on the throne he sets them forever, and they are exalted.” Job 36:7 ESV
At this point, God Himself enters the fray – telling Job that none of his assumptions are true. Then He asks Job if he could possibly have any comprehension of the galactic scale that He operates on.
Job does the wise thing. He humbles himself before His Maker:
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:2, 3. ESV
“Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6 NASB
God is a loving and merciful God. It doesn’t matter what we have done – even if it includes blaming Him and doubting His ways. He knows that we cannot grasp His ‘Big Picture’ (which always has our highest and best purpose in it).
He is demonstrating His unchanging character and His desire for us to turn around, (confess and repent). Love, forgiveness and mercy will always follow.
What was Job’s outcome?
And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10 AMP
And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. Job 42:12 ESV
Notice that Job grew prosperous again after he prayed for someone else. Notice too, that even though Job indulged in self-righteousness and self-pity, he never cursed God or lost faith in who He was.
God loves you. There is a reason for everything that is happening around you. Ask God what it is, (especially when it doesn’t make sense), so that you can learn from it. Ask Him to strengthen you, so that you can move through it and grow thereby.
There are no bad times with God. There are only lessons that we need. And God always delivers those lessons (including a way out of them) with love in mind…
Goodnight and God bless.