It has been over 30 years now since I heard the testimony from a man who lost his wife and two of his children in an automobile accident when vacationing overseas. Sometime after the tragedy he had it out with God one night. He said he got up in the bed on his knees and raised his fist at God and shouted at Him all night long. After hours of venting his anger, the dawn began to break and light came into his bedroom and he finally had said all he wanted to say. Then, in the quietness and stillness, he felt like he heard a voice saying, “Is there anything else, son?” He said he began to weep as he experienced the tender love of his Heavenly Father and was able to trust Him and enjoy a loving and intimate relationship with Him once again.
There are many lessons we can glean from the life of Job but one which can be overlooked is how God desires us to be perfectly honest with Him and express our true thoughts and feelings to Him. Otherwise, we can have secret and hidden resentments against God deep in our hearts and thus have a distant and lukewarm relationship with Him for many years and, in some cases, the rest of our life. “You never get over grief completely until you express it fully.” (Job – A Man of Heroic Endurance by Chuck Swindoll) Swindoll points out that in one of the most depressing chapters in the entire Bible (Job 3) where Job regrets his birth, wishes he had died at birth, and longs to die, God did not say, “Shame on you, Job” or “You just need to be thankful.” In a sense, God said, “Is there anything else, son?” And, in Job’s case, there was a lot more as Job continued to vent his anger and confusion to God. Note, Job’s “miserable counselors” (Job 16:2), talked “about” God (and were mostly wrong) whereas Job talked honestly to God. And afterwards, he was ready to listen to God which led to his humble repentance and restored relationship with the Lord.
We see this honest, heartfelt praying throughout the Bible and through the people of the Bible like Moses, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, the Psalmists, Paul, and even our Lord Jesus. “He (Jesus) offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death (i.e., resurrect Him), and He was heard because of His piety.” (Hebrews 5:7) I heard a sermon on this verse and the preacher said, “You could have heard Jesus’s cries and prayers for ten city blocks.” In the most agonizing moment of His life, Jesus invited three of His closest disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane where they could hear, and thus later write down so all of us could “hear” His honest, gut-wrenching cries to God as an example for us to do the same. (Matthew 26:36-46)
Jesus says the “cares of life” can choke out God’s Word and truth and make us unfruitful. (Mark 4:19) We are simply too weak to carry our burdens ourselves and though good friends can help us, nobody cares and understands like the Lord. That is why the Lord tells us to cast all our cares on Him, because He cares for us. (See 1 Peter 5:7) “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows but Jesus.” Ponder the lyrics to, What a Friend We Have in Jesus. http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/What_a_Friend_We_Have_in_Jesus/
Here are some other lessons and insights from the life of Job in Swindoll’s book and I have added some of my own comments.
What Job teaches us about ourselves- *We never know ahead of time the plans God has for us.
*A vertical perspective will keep us from horizontal panic.
*Discernment is needed to detect wrong advice from well-meaning people.
*When things turn from bad to worse, sound theology helps us remain strong and stable.
*Caring and sensitive friends know when to come, how to respond, and what to say, (and I add – what not to say.)
*It is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback when we encounter another’s outburst; i.e., Job’s friend’s reactions to his arguments against God’s seeming injustice. I add –Listen long and patiently.
*The cultivation of obedient endurance is the crowning mark of spiritual maturity. Or -may we grow up in the Lord as we grow old and before we die. (See James 1:2-5)
What Job teaches us about our God-
*There is nothing God cannot do.
*It is impossible to frustrate God’s purposes.
*God’s plans are beyond our understanding and too deep to explain.
*When the day of reckoning arrives, God is always fair. (Hebrews 6:10) I add- do not look for your return on investment only in this life. (See 1 Corinthians 15:19)
*Only through God’s instructions, God’s Word, are we able to humble ourselves and rest in His will.
*No one can be compared to God when it comes to blessings. “Restored his fortunes and increased them two fold …and the latter days of Job were more blessed than the beginning. (See chapter 42:9-13) I add- New Testament believers must wait for the judgment seat of Christ for their full reward. Old Testament blessings seemed to be more temporal in nature (land, health, children, crops, etc.) than New Testament blessings. As Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:12- “Great is your reward in heaven…” (for suffering and serving now in this life.)
*Only God can fill our final years with divine music that frees us to live above our circumstances. Freedom from: fear, negative attitudes, grudges, the need to know why, etc. I add – this revelation that brings freedom generally only comes through the lessons we learned from trials in which we humbly trusted and obeyed the Lord.
God tests us to bless us. (See Job 23:10) Even when we cannot understand the mysterious ways of God in our life we must hold on to this truth. When He allows or sends trials, it is always because He loves us and wants our highest spiritual and eternal good. We must believe Him and His Word that says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:28-29) As we love God in every trial (and blessings too) of life and agree with His highest purpose for our life, “to become conformed to the image of His Son,” then we can rest assured that as we trust and obey the Lord in our present trials and struggles He will ultimately cause them to make us more like Christ which is our greatest good both now in this life and for all eternity. He only tests us to bless us. “Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day. For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]! So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 AMP)
“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living.” (Job 28:13) According to Job 28, God’s wisdom is the most valuable thing in the world yet it cannot be bought or found. We would have to be God to understand God’s wisdom for God’s wisdom is infinite. But in the last verse of this chapter God tells us how we as finite creatures can have wisdom and understanding. “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.’” (Job 28:28) (See my teaching on Living in the Fear of the Lord at: http://www.lensykes.com/archives/1830) We don’t need an explanation from God, we need a revelation of God which God gave to Job in chapters 38 through 41. The Bible, Genesis through Revelation, is the revelation of God to us today. The three key perspectives we need to have of God and man are seen in 1) Genesis 3, the Fall of man, 2) the Gospels/Epistles, the atonement of fallen man in Christ and how to live in response to God’s mercy, and 3) Revelation 20-22, the final state of those who reject Christ and the full restoration and glorification of all who receive Christ. In these three perspectives we see our deep sinfulness and rebellion against God, God’s costly and merciful atonement in the cross and our glorious redemption and eternal bliss, forever and ever. Amen.
Until He Comes again, Len and Kristen