Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Can You Praise Him in This?

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” - Job 2:3

When we read of the characters of the Bible we often do so to find things in them that we can model.  We want to have the willingness to serve of Esther, the perserverance of Paul, the faith of Abraham.  But no one character in the Bible could be more of a role model than Job.  He was a wealthy man, “the greatest of all the people of the East.”(Job 1:3)  And yet he did not let his wealth become an idol.  He remained faithful to God.  He was a good father.  He offered sacrifices for his sons and daughters – not because they had sinned – but in case they had sinned.  Even God himself boasted of His servant Job, saying to Satan in Job 1:8, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”  God was very well pleased with Job, and pointed out his good qualities to Satan.

First, God calls Job His servant. This indicates that Job was not only a man who was upright and obedient, but he was also busy doing God’s work.

Secondly, God found no other like him on the entire earth. He was blameless – having nothing wrong between him and God, or him and man.  He had nothing to confess and nothing to be forgiven.

Thirdly, he feared God, he respected God out of the love in his heart. He turned away from all evil, not allowing himself to be near anything that resembled evil.  He wanted nothing more than to be the man God wanted him to be. Job loved God, and out of love, not guilt, not religion, he served Him.
Sometimes when we are taken through the “valley of the shadow of death”, we have trouble seeing God’s will at work in our lives.  When we receive “a messenger of Satan to buffet us”, we only see the hand of Satan at work, and not God.  But rest assured, if you are God’s servant, He always seeks to prosper you and provide for you a greater future than you can imagine.  Sometimes that means suffering, which produces in us greater testimonies, greater fruits of the Spirit, and a closer relationship with God. 

Job was no different.  God rewarded his love, obedience and loyalty with a trial filled with suffering.  He turned him over to Satan and said only “do not lay a hand on his person” meaning he couldn’t kill Job, but he could do anything else his evil heart could dream up. 
Satan got to work. In only one day, he sent an enemy army that killed all Job’s donkeys and oxen. To make it look like God was the one pulling the evil strings, he next sent fire from Heaven to burn his sheep and the servants with them.

Before Job could digest what had just happened, before he could find any comfort in God, Satan sent another messenger.  This one informed him that another army of bandits had stolen all his camels and killed more servants.
Then quickly, as to not allow Job time to even pray, Satan sent wicked winds that blew down the house where all Job’s sons and daughters were gathered, and in one single moment, they were all killed. And as quick as it happened, he sent another messenger to tell Job, while he was deep within his suffering.  

Could you praise God in this?

Could you praise God when your job is gone, and your bank account empty?

Could you praise God when your car is stolen and you have no hope of getting another?

Could you praise God when your friends and coworkers are gone, when you are left alone?

Can you praise Him when your children are killed?

Can you praise God when all the evil of Satan is unleashed on you?

Job did.  He tore his robe and shaved his head as signs of mourning, and fell to the ground in worship. His relationship with God wasn’t based on God being good to him.  Even in the pain he felt, he loved God.  He found it right that he should accept the good and the bad from God’s hands.

The fact that Job did praise God mirrors his relationship with God, which was built on trust in God.  We can all praise God when we’re on the mountain top, soaking up the blessings, living in the joy of His presence.  But that’s not where we grow.  We grow in the valleys.

God doesn’t send us through the valleys.  He takes us through them.  Psalms 23:4 says “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me”.  We never go through the valley alone.  God walks us through the valley sanctifying us, purifying us, taking us through the fire, shaving off the rough edges.  Our perfect response to the pain and suffering that come is to trust in His understanding above our own.  Trust in His love.
We can praise Him in the valley and trust Him to always be in control of our circumstances.  Even in the worst of times, Satan is not mightier than God, and is on a very short leash held in the hand of God.  Trust God to take you through the valley. Just as God did for Job, the valley comes with a reward, and a purpose.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 

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