Difficult Truths

Difficult Truths

We all admire Job.  We would not want to be Job, but we admire his perseverance and patience in the face of unimaginable suffering. Often, when we are faced with suffering we turn to the book of Job to try and find some answers as to how to stay strong.  What we find, though, is that book of Job is not really a handbook on how to handle suffering.  It also does not really give us the answers as to why we are suffering.  At least, not the answers that we want.  Job’s friends continually, over and over and over, spout the conventional wisdom that Job must have sinned.  Yet, God, three times, states how blameless Job was.  Job was not perfect but God makes it clear that Job was not suffering because of his own personal sin.  Job’s fourth friend, Elihu, does seem to give some decent advice but I am not sure it truly fits Job’s situation either.  
So what is the book of Job about?  The book of Job is a reminder of the sovereign rule of God where he chooses where he receives glory.  God chose to allow Job to suffer so that God could prove to Satan that a man could worship God without any thought of gain.  Satan proposed to God that Job only worshiped and followed God because he had been blessed to be the richest man on earth.  Job had a great family and life by the tail.  Take that away and he would not worship God.  When God allowed that to happen and Job still remained faithful, Satan proposed that if Job himself was afflicted, then he would curse God. Job survived that test also and God was glorified.  Job is a lesson to all of us that we are instruments of God and we exist to carry out his plans and purposes which transcend our limited understanding. God does not exist for man but man exists for God.  If God, as he did with Job, desires to be glorified through our perseverance in suffering, then we shall suffer.  We find hope in the truth that even though Satan attacked Job, he was not free to do whatever he pleased. God limited and controlled how much Satan was allowed to do.  God was always in charge.  Yet, in this instance God allowed much.
Sobering thoughts.  We accept that we may suffer for sins.  We may even accept the ultimate purpose of suffering in that our suffering has a greater purpose of conforming us to the image of Jesus (Job 23:10 Job speaks of being refined like gold).  But, the truth that we may suffer because God desires to demonstrate to Satan that a man is capable of worshiping him simply because of who God is?  That takes our thoughts about God outside our comfortable box.  Job responded by saying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”.  Job had no idea about what was being played out in heaven. He just knew that whatever his God brought into his life, it was his right, as God, to do so.  Job’s responsibility was to worship. After the next blow where his children were taken, Job said this, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” The next verse is so real, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips”.  Not sure his heart and head were not struggling but he did not allow those thoughts and feeling to be spoken out loud.
I will never be Job.  I will never rise to the heights of being the richest man in whole world.  I cannot lose, materially, what Job lost.  But will God ever use my life to demonstrate that it is still possible for a man to worship him with no thought of personal gain? Jesus promised that we would suffer, just as he suffered.  His suffering was never because of his personal sin.  He had no sin.  He did not suffer in order to be made perfect.  He was perfect.  He suffered for the glory of God.  He has promised that we will suffer as he suffered.  We have been bombarded with the thought that if we obey Jesus then we should receive nothing but good health, material blessings, and an easy life.  That does not fit with the book of Job at all.  Can we say that we have lived as blamelessly as Job?  If Job can be chosen to suffer, then so can we.  We do live on the other side of the cross and so our suffering is different and our promises are secure.  But we must also understand that when we say that He is the potter and we are the clay, that he truly is the potter and we truly are the clay.  That is not simply a meme with a cool picture. We exist for him.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

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