The world meme, ABC Wednesday, is where people come together and share their thoughts, photos, poems, etc on each letter of the alphabet. I’m working my way through the bible and this week is J-week. There are so many choices for J-people…Jesus, John, Joseph, Jacob…all full of possibilities.
But I choose Job for this week’s J post. The patience of Job is a familiar phrase. Have you ever wondered why?
The heavenly throne room is a busy place with angelic comings and goings, reporting on us mortals. Satan brazenly walks in and straight up to the Creator, leans on one of the pearly, marble columns, tilts his head to one side and taunts God about the state of the union; how men are corrupt, greedy and self-centered. Not impressed, God reminds him of Job, his good and faithful man.
Satan sneers that Job’s faith is fickle, and further taunts God with the idea that if he would drop his protection from around Job, he’ll show his true colors.
They shook on it and that’s when the heavenly wager began; the cosmic tug of war for Job’s soul.
Rarely, does the bible draw back the curtain to let us glimpse what goes on behind the scenes. But this time, we’re privy to information we probably wish we’d never discovered; God seemingly playing fast and loose with a man’s life. It bothers us. It enrages us. How could he do that? Who does he think he is?
Satan does his worst and the collateral damage is monumental. Job loses everything…family, wealth, reputation, health…all gone. Job must now make some really difficult decisions. How can he continue to trust in God for protection against what appears to be unjustified punishment? After all, what did he ever do to deserve this?
Extremely happy with himself, Satan returns to the throne room to gloat about Job’s expected demise of faith. Meanwhile, Job is praying his little heart out. It’s only a matter of time until he throws up his hands and surrenders. He is lashing out at God and hanging out with friends who do nothing but fuel his misery. Job has become judge, jury and executioner for the unfairness he sees as God’s fault. His faith doesn’t crumble, but there are a few cracks in it. Satan is giddy at the thought and can almost taste sweet success.
And here’s where the story take a twist.
In a violent pop-up summer storm, God reveals himself to Job. But not as a defendant on trial for wrongdoing. Oh no. The Creator of the Universe reveals himself to Job. One thing you probably shouldn’t do is question The Almighty about his decisions. Because this is just a small sampling of what you’re likely to get in return:
“Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me…
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand…
“Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place…
“What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!…
“Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you…
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!…
Um, duly noted. Silly me to think a mere mortal could run the universe in a better way. God is quite capable of executive decisions without our help or opinion. Job agrees. And with trembling voice, he replies:
I know you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted…Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know...My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. ~Job 42:2-6
Job gets an answer to his accusations, but it’s not the answer he expects. Ironically, God never condemns Job for lashing out and throwing him under the bus. He never retaliates when Job’s anger and rage explode in a tirade. He only corrects the misconception of who has the better resume to be responsible for these things.
Much of our suffering happens for reasons we don’t understand. God may or may not choose to let us in on the secret. Job’s trials weren’t based on sins he did or didn’t do. Instead, it was a teachable moment where Job learned he may have jumped to the wrong conclusion that God was inept.
Terrible events usually happen to show what we are really made of when our lives get tough. They happen to help us trust in God for our happiness, regardless of difficult circumstances. A friend of mine calls these times holy-two-by-four moments; because it’s like God is slapping us upside the head to get out attention and make us notice him.
Who won the heavenly wager? Who do you think?
After Satan sulked back down into the underworld, God restored Job’s health, wealth, reputation and family, and blessed him with more than before.
Why do you think pain and suffering are part of this world?
How do you get through difficult times without giving up hope?
Has your life been healed from a tragic time when you didn’t think you could recover?
Submitted for ABC Wednesday