So…finally…38 Chapters into the story of Job – the LORD answers him.
We’ve seen the unbelievable tragedy and suffering that Job is enduring, we’ve seen his 3 dopey friends try and sell him bad theology – that if you do what is right (and don’t go see R-Rated movies, and go to church a lot, and don’t drink/curse/chew or hang out with girls that do) that your life will be happy and prosperous and everything will be peachy. If not if you are a “bad” person and do those “bad” things then you will have a hard life…so by simple math – Job must be a “bad” person otherwise all this suffering wouldn’t be upon him…God clearly is punishing him.
Job’s friends have some skewed theology. [Side note: see how vital it is to have solid Biblical theology?! We need to spot bad counsel by comparing it to the Word of God!]
Truth is – you can do all the things you are “supposed to do” and be a “good person,” and still get cancer. You’ve girlfriend can dump you. You can have massive problems with your kids or be unable to find a job. One of the underlying themes of Job is that hard times are not necessarily a punishment from God.
But…how do we react during hard times? Do we feel as though we should not be having them at all? Wish for them to be over as quickly as possible so that life can return to “normal?” Job spends nearly 3 chapters whining about all the reasons why this shouldn’t be happening to him. (Job 29-31). He is not reacting very well. His perspective is definitely starting to be skewed here.
What is your perspective? The Bible warns us that suffering and hardship are in fact “normal” for this life. (see 2 Tim 3:12; John 16:33). It is infinitely more difficult to deal with hardship when you start from the perspective that it should NOT be happening to you. We need to gain the Biblical perspective here. It SHOULD be happening. Life is hard. Sin is here. Evil is around. We have an enemy and we need to battle him daily with the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!
We also need to understand that God is completely sovereign. There is absolutely nothing that escapes his notice and he subjugates everything for the main purpose of everything: for HIS glory. So it is always about God, not us primarily. We would do well to remember this: everything God does is for His glory. When we are in trials, it is a chance for God to work in us more intensely and we need to handle the hard time correctly and wisely in order to grow and bring glory to God. Hard times produce in us a Godliness that we just don’t get when life is just “peachy.”
One of the most abused verses in the Bible is Romans 8:28. Christians tend to be in the midst of hard times, find that verse, read it and say “Oh. Cool. This is going to work for MY good.” Then close the Bible, define the good themselves, and then experience crushing disappointment and loss of faith when their idea of good is not fulfilled. You cannot understand Romans 8:28 without verse 29. There the “good” is defined. “For those he foreknew (again…God’s sovereignty here), he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” That’s the good! That we look more like Jesus. Not that the trial is over and we return to ‘normal happy life.’
Our BBW is “Sanctification” – my friend Wayne Grudem defines it as “a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.” (Systematic Theology, pg 746)
I have found that Christians spend an awful lot of time trying to figure out the exact lesson that God is trying to teach them in any given trial. There is an element of truth to that, but we can go too far with that too. We generally spend far too much time trying to determine the thoughts of God, and we cannot do that – the Bible tells us that his ways are above our ways, and his thoughts are above our thoughts. (Is. 55:8-9).
Driscoll nailed it this week. He said “God doesn’t give us answers to all of our questions. He gives us Jesus.”
Don’t focus on the why, focus on the WHO. God. God gives us Jesus so that we can be reconciled with him – all of our selfish pride and 9 million other sins were paid for by the perfect one who never sinned, who took the punishment for sin that I deserved so that now by faith and the gift of grace I am right before God. My job now is to look, act, smell, be more like Jesus in my life every day. That’s hard work and bad stuff happens. But in it we need to rest that God is sovereign and he is working all things for HIS glory and my sanctification – which is ultimately a good thing for me.
Stop trying to figure things out and start yielding yourself to Jesus. Search your heart with an open Bible, a steaming hot cup of coffee, and eyes wet with tears that God would strengthen you in this trial to bear it for his glory. Pray that he will reveal your heart to you and give him all of it. He promises that he will be found if we seek him with ALL our heart. (Jer 29:13).
It is impossible to have the perspective that God has. He is GOD, that is his job, not ours. God kinda tears into Job right from the start of Chapter 38 – “Who is this that darkens my counsel without knowledge? Dress for action like a man.” He is saying in a sense “OK, Job. I’ve heard enough. You have really no idea what you are talking about because you are not me, never will be me, and don’t know everything I do. Get ready, put your big boy pants on because I’m going to school you.”
He spends 4 chapters reminding Job of who he is.
Then…well…let’s just wait and see what happens in the last chapter, shall we?
Sorry, this turned out to be kind of a longish rant – but having gone through quite a season in 2010 – this is on my heart.