Tuesday, March 12, 2013

the bad stuff

Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die." But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Job 2:9-10

This is, in my opinion, the low point in Job's experience. He has lost all his children, all of his possessions and wealth, and now his own health. Pain of every sort has fallen heavy upon him. And in his affliction his own wife's despair urges him to give up his only source of hope -- his faith in God. Yet even in this deepest darkness and emotional torture, he refuses to yield his integrity or faith.

Job's message to his wife is insightful and firm. To curse God would be foolish. It would deny all of the reasons for why things had been so good in the past. And to turn to this spiritual dark place, directing his anger at God, would be a sin and a sign of a weak faith. The reality that Job accepts is that God is in both the blessings and the losses. It would be very inconsistent to only trust God in the good times. Job would accept the good stuff and the bad stuff as consistent with the rule of God in his life.

Job was one of the wealthiest men of his culture. Yet he refused to make material prosperity the barometer of God's faithfulness. He was no prosperity theologian. He did not need "feel good" smiling TV preachers coiffed in smug, wealthy idealism to encourage him. He was willing to trust God's faithfulness in the bad times. He directly attributed the hard times and the good times to God's gracious will.

A robust faith is proven through the difficult storms of life. Job is a guide, showing us how to navigate through them. He is an example of the faithfulness of God in our losses. He shows us how strong faith can grieve and suffer in a noble way that glorifies the God Who makes both sunshine and storm necessary experiences for all of us. Only a God Who is equally faithful and vital in the good stuff AND the bad stuff is worthy of my worship.

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