In this series about pain, we have established that our pain response needs to be compatible with the spiritual family to which we belong. If you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, He has provided the guidance and model to show us what your response should be: “God, what do you want me to learn? What is my ministry experience? I trust and honor you, even if I don’t understand.”
Without being in the family of God, a natural response would be, “Why me? It’s not fair! I hate God. I’m never going to church again/giving again/trusting again…” The devil eggs us on to curse God and cease our trust, generosity, service, and faithfulness to Him. But if we only walk closely with God when things go well, what kind of relationship is that? Would you want a friend like that?
When we experience trials and discomfort, we are often inclined to ask why they are happening.
When we experience trials and discomfort (things we don’t like), we are often inclined to ask why they are happening. Though we may never know why, we can know that God has considered us trustworthy in that trouble. He trusts us to glorify Him in the midst of pain and He not only knows that we can handle the pain, but that He can refine us through it and use it for our spiritual benefit on the other side.
Today’s scripture is from the book of Job. Job was a righteous man who consistently honored God, but the devil challenged that Job’s faithfulness to God was solely dependent on God’s blessings on his life (his wealth, property, and family) and that if his prosperity were removed, Job would curse God. In response, God found Job unwaveringly faithful and trusted him with terrible trials. To us, this can be God’s example that no matter what pain He allows into our lives or what things other people may do to us, God will never leave us; He will be there to get us through it.
1. What are the practical expressions of your trust in God? Job 1:1-5
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east. And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. Job 1:1-5
Job’s faith manifested itself continually (v5), shunning evil, fearing God, and offering sacrifices on behalf of his children to ensure that his family honored God.
What does your faith look like today? Does it change depending on whether your circumstances are easy or difficult? How is your prayer life? Generosity? Participation in ministry? Do these practices become worse or better in hard times?
2. What burden would break the back of that trust? Job 1:6-12
The scriptures tell us in 1 Peter 5:8:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
He’s looking for people to attack and searching for ways to tear people away from the Lord. In Job’s case the devil claims that the only reason Job worships God is because he’s wealthy and wants for nothing. What’s the reason that you come to church? If you are looking to erase guilt or make yourself feel good, you are misunderstanding your relationship with God. He wants you to come because you love Him and want to draw close to Him.
Pastor Miles compared our commitment to God to a couple on their wedding day. Our faithfulness to God should be firm as a vow in sickness or in health, for richer or for poorer -- guaranteed regardless of circumstance. “God, I’m with you no matter what!”
The devil believed that if Job suffered and his prosperity were removed, then he would curse God. He believes this for you as well -- that there are some buttons in your life that, if pushed, will lead you to abandon your faith in God.
Is there a trial, a temptation, or a burden that would cause you to turn you back on God? Sex? Money? Comfort and luxury? Your job? Infidelity of a spouse? Death of a child?
Whatever the trigger, the devil is cunning; he knows the trigger and his timing is impeccable.
3. For what pain response is God trusting you? Job 1:13-22
If Job is as faithful as God says he is, then the devil can give his best punch and Job will still worship God.
God basically says, “Go ahead. I trust him.”
Then the devil wreaks havoc on Job’s life. He loses his servants, his wealth, his livestock, and his children all at once. We can imagine him shouting, “Where’s God now? He did this to you - and after all you’ve done for Him!” But God knows that Job will not curse Him. He knows that Job is loved, loves God in return, and has the wisdom to know that this is not the end of his story. He believes that Job will honor Him through all the trials and that he will be ten times as blessed when it is all finished. Was he correct?
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped. And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Job 1:20-22
Pain hurts. We’ve all been there in one way or another and the devil uses pain more than anything else to try to pry us from the hand of God. But God wants us to trust Him all the time, through the good and the bad. His goal is to purify us from the desires of the world, mature us, and make us make us holy. This why it is so important to be prepared in advance - to establish our unwavering faith, just as Job did.
Job shows us to have the wisdom to know that trial and troubles don’t mark the end of your story. Though you may not know the ending, you can look back and see all the other times that God has been faithful to carry you through trials. Let His track record you you and others all through the scriptures bring hope and assurance for the future.