On Monday we discovered that Job’s response to adversity (loss of everything he owned and all of his family) was to grieve and then worship, never denying the Holy One. What did that attitude do for him? Did he know a secret about God? What was he expecting? How does that relate to us?
God took Job’s “friends” to task. He showed them how petty their attitude was, and then…
And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before… And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. Job 42:10, 12 (ESV)
Sweet! So if I am in trouble, God promises to give me twice what I had! Bring on that trouble!
Uh … no.
As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:10-11 (ESV)
We will be considered blessed. God never promises His people a specific amount, or percent, or money, or riches. He promises to bless us. If you listen to some preachers, you would think that God promises to double, triple, quadruple whatever you give, or that God promises a “payday” for your troubles. That is not true. God does promise to bless us.
Some people think that when you suffer adversity, it’s “payback” from God for something you did – or didn’t – do. Let’s look at Job again to see what the Bible says:
Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Job 1:13-22 (ESV)
Why did Job suffer so much? So that we could see Satan cannot do anything that God does not permit, and so that we could see that God has a plan for everything that comes our way, good and bad.
What do you say to God when you go through a struggle? Is your first response anger, incredulity, lashing out? Or do you pray, attempt to stay calm, and look for God’s hand in the plan? Are you like most of us and respond with a combination? Is a trial a good or bad thing?
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness*. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect** and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 (ESV)
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience*. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect** and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:2-4 (KJV)
*Some translations say endurance
**fully mature, attaining the intended goal
When we are tested, we are supposed to do what? Joy? Which leads to maturity? Can you look back at times of adversity and see how they really helped to develop your Christian character and testimony?
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3-7 (ESV)
What do we see is the purpose of trials? What is the relationship between trials and faith?
Between now and Friday, think about times that you’ve been under a trial. What is your first response? What’s next? Once you decide to trust God, how does the trial affect your faith?