Sunday, January 27, 2013
Scratching the Surface of Job
I'll never forget praying like this on October 28, 2012:
I've been thinking a lot about what I really need
to be happy; and I realize I'm no different from
I keep thinking I need this or that or her or him
or...to be happy.
I keep thinking I'd be happy if she didn't or if he
didn't or if she did or if he did or if they didn't or
if they did or...
I keep thinking about what I'm thinking about what
will make me happy; and I'm making lists that seem
to grow and grow and grow about what I'm thinking
about what I'm thinking about will make me happy
It hit me.
You hit me.
I'm not happy when I'm thinking about anyone or
anything more than You.
It's my idolatries that keep me unhappy.
You alone are the Source, Starter, Sovereign, and
Savior of my happiness here and now and hereafter.
Thanks for reminding me that I think too much about
what will make me happy when it's only and always
You who give happiness for the asking through Jesus
in whose name I pray.
Paul understood that most basic fact of life: "I have learned how to be happy in any circumstance: fed or hungry, with or without. I can be content in any and every situation through Jesus who is my power and strength."
Then he adds this great news, "Know this! My God will also fill every need you have!"
Simply, as the Psalmist said, "God alone satisfies!"
Job learned that the hard way; and if we've ever felt on the harder side of life, this book inspires trust in God to lift us up after life has knocked us down.
While illustrating faith does not make us immune to the meanness, madness, and misery of life, the book promises light at the end of every tunnel for those who trust Him.
Job goes from riches to rags to riches according to a plan that God explained like this to Isaiah: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Job illustrates the testing that comes to everyone; or as Jesus said, "Rain falls on everyone."
Job provides the key to enduring the worst that life can throw at us so we can come out on the other end to God's better than ever before.
Quickly, Job was a really good man - described by God in glowing terms: "No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil."
He had everything going for him: health, wealth, and big happy family.
Then along comes Satan who is never up to anybody's good and challenges God, "Do you really think Job would be such a team player if he weren't winning so much? I'll bet he'd turn on you quicker than Bears fans on their quarterback after a few loses."
It's a test that nobody wants to take.
Do I love God only when things are going great in my life?
Do I stay with Him and His only as long as things are going my way?
Will I abandon God and His family of faith if things go south in what I want or need to be happy with Him and His?
That was Job's test; as he lost everything that brought happiness into his life.
Though his friends insisted he must have done something wrong to warrant his misfortune and despite a young prophet who almost got part of it/God right in assessing the moment as just a moment if Job hung in while being hung up, Job knew he wasn't as bad as anybody imagined and decided to keep the faith regardless of how awful things had become in the expectation of deliverance sooner or later and definitely in the end.
That's what happened: "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the earlier."
That's the big lesson in Job.
Things may go from good to bad to worse.
Such is life.
We have no clue why it happens.
Oh, we may say God is teaching us some kinda lesson that we'll appreciate when it's in the rearview mirror.
Yet, again, the big point in Job is to hang in with God and He'll hang in with us and lift us up and out to His better than ever before.
Job reminds us of a lesson that a seminary professor said is the main theme of the entire Bible: "Trust Jesus and, in everything else, hang loose."
Or as Paul later concluded, "God works for the good of those who love Him...sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end."
I like how the Psalmist explained it/Him: "I was young but now I am old; yet I have never seen the Lord disappoint the faithful...sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end."
In short, trust God no matter who, what, when, where, or why.
Getting back to our desire for happiness, Mick Jagger began his career by complaining, "I can't get no satisfaction."
Historically and traditionally as well as confessionally, we know no one experiences/expresses happiness apart from God for God alone satisfies - generates/guarantees happiness - as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
Again and always, that's what Paul discovered: "I have learned how to be happy in any circumstance: fed or hungry, with or without. I can be content in any and every situation through Jesus who is my power and strength."
Let me put it another way.
Happiness and holiness are parts of the same fabric of faith.
More holiness = more happiness.
Let me put it another way.
As long as we are never happy with how holy we are, we are on the road to more happiness.
As long as we are never content with how close we are to Him, we will remain on the path to that totally true contentment that is ultimately described as heavenly.
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!