January 08, 2021
How do you respond to God when difficulty comes? In your mind, you know that God could have prevented suffering from touching you. And yet, He has either caused or allowed a hard thing to come your way. And now, what are your thoughts about God?
A DRAMATIC ILLUSTRATION
Job was the godliest man on the face of the earth. This is not our evaluation but God’s. But God allowed Satan to touch this great man with great tragedy. Wave after wave of loss came that was so heavy his wife told him to “curse God and die.” But Job made another choice.
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 speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:9-10)
Job’s response indicated a deep understanding of an essential truth. He believed that every single blessing in his life came from God. Job did not think he himself was the genesis for the good that he had. These blessings were received. This understanding was laced with humility, which is the foundation for wisdom.
He believed what James, the brother of Jesus, would later reiterate.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:16-17)
James did not say, “SOME good things,” or “MOST good things come from God.” Both Job and James understood that every single blessing came from a singular source. And if we accept the good from Him, are we to be angry with God when something is taken away? Or not provided the way we desire?
Think of this application for your life. Your existence is from God. Your body, your health, the place you live, the food you eat, the work you have, the friends you enjoy … everything good comes from God. Everything. If you think otherwise, it is an indication of a pride that will deeply pervert your thinking.
But here is the heart of Job’s understanding when difficult comes: We gladly accept the gifts, but will we accept the hardships? God knows what He is doing when He blesses us with that which we enjoy. But do we also believe He knows precisely what we need when He allows difficulties? That which we did not ask for and did not want?
Job accepted his circumstances. Most of us would close our fists and say to God, “I don’t want this and will not accept this hardship in my life!” (This is a foolish declaration, by the way, for it is already in your life.) Tribulation comes to everyone. Getting angry at God is a natural first response, but He is the wrong one to blame for our disappointment. God is not the author of evil. If you hold him at arm’s length, you are shutting out the only one who can sufficiently help you in your difficulty.
God is sovereign, and great peace and wisdom come when we embrace His sovereignty. He can do whatever He desires—giving blessings and allowing hardship—and weave it all together for good. Therefore, He should be loved, and trusted, and worshiped whatever may come.
We don’t deserve the blessings, yet He gives them by His grace. When a blessing is withheld for His purposes, we should embrace His sovereignty and accept the circumstances. “In everything give thanks,” Paul said. As we do, we will gain our most powerful life messages in our most painful experiences.
Sovereign God, thank You for the blessings You have given me! Forgive me for my pride that fails to see this and often fails to give thanks. But Lord, I also want to worship You in the most challenging places. You know what You’re doing. Let my life glorify You there as a testimony to in a watching world.
March 29, 2023
As a pastor for the last 55 years, I have had the joy of being encouraged and blessed and prayed for by so many people. It is what carries you in your task of shepherding people. As I look back over five decades of ministry, their love has dramatically enriched my life.
But also, a pastor leads. And when anyone leads, there are almost always some who disagree.
March 28, 2023
March 27, 2023