"So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields." Matthew 9:38
When my kids hear the word, “Walmart” mentioned in our house, its like this really weird chemical reaction happens in their little bodies. They can be in the worst of moods, arguing with each other, and complaining because they don’t want to do homework. But upon hearing the word “Walmart” a miracle occurs. All of the sudden, Andy and Lincoln go from pulling each other’s hair out, to sharing toys and actually wanting to do their homework without being asked.
They think I am not wise to their little scheme. In their minds, if they do good, then Im going to give them things….like new toys at Walmart. Even on the car ride to the store, you can almost literally see the blue birds chirping over their heads as they give their best performance of true brotherly love in the backseat.
Im serenaded with songs of praise as we walk the isles….
“Did I ever tell you that you are the best daddy in the world?”
“Daddy how did you get so strong?”
“I love you daddy with all my heart!”
And don’t get me wrong, I love hearing this from my children. But I know its not true adoration at that moment. At that moment, their eyes are glued to the back of the store where the toy department holds all the desires of their hearts. I had to stop the madness right there. I squatted down to both boys, and told them how much I loved them. But I let them know that they were not getting what they thought they were getting. They were not getting a new toy.
Immediately, the blue birds over their heads dispersed as the eye brows lowered and their smiles faded. “That’s not fair!” “You’re a meany!” What happened to me being the greatest dad that ever lived? The fact that I loved them was not enough to satisfy them. Their sour attitudes continued and I informed them that if they kept it up, they would lose play time with their toys at home. My oldest responded, “But those are our toys!” To which I had to point out that it was I who bought the toys and gave to them. So technically, the toys were on loan from mommy and daddy.
When we read the story of Job in the Bible, we see a man who possessed unwavering faith in God in the harshest of circumstances. If you recall, Satan was allowed by God to do his very worst to Job. Note that God did not cause any of the problems, but allowed Satan to wreak havoc upon the life of Job. Satan basically said to God, “You have so blessed your boy Job with health, and wealth, and a nice family….but let me take that away from him and I swear he will curse your name.” You see, Satan was trying to make a point to God that the only reason humanity loves God is because of the good things he gives.
Satan took Jobs health, his wealth, even his marriage was in shambles. Even Job’s seven children were tragically taken from him. Job literally lost everything. And at his lowest point, this is what Job said….
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21.
In the worst of circumstances, when all of life seemed hopeless and darkness seemed to be all around, it wasn’t doubt or anger towards God that resided in Jobs heart….it was praise. Jobs love for God was genuine. Its wasn’t based on God giving job anything. Because Job realized that everything he had, his marriage, his health, his blessings, even his children…they were never his to begin with. All good things in our lives come from God. And one of the major morals of the story is that when the most awful of tragedies befalls us, God is enough to sustain us. And if we curse him and doubt him, we only prove how selfish we are. Why would people do this?
“…because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!” Romans 1:24.
They begin to put more worth in the things God gives rather in the God who gives.
When we as outsiders looking back at the story of Job read about his life, we smile and say a hearty, “Amen.” I’ve never met the person that has read the book of Job and walked away thinking God was unjust. Just the opposite, we read the story and pray that we should have Job like faith and marvel at the sovereignty of God in all situations.
However, many times we live contrary to the lessons we learn from scripture. In our world today, if we have money, good health, a good marriage, and great kids, we tend to use the term, “blessed” to describe our life. But what happens when we get a terminal illness, or we lose our job, or our marriage is deteriorating, or God forbid we lose a loved one in death? What happens when we witness the news of a national tragedy like the one we experienced as a nation in Connecticut last week?
More times than not, we abandon what we learned from the life of Job and fall into despair. We question where God was, and how can he be loving to let bad things happen. You see we are quick to use terms like blessed and sing praises to the Lord when life is good. But when we tragedy strikes, we behave much like a little child not getting what he wanted from Walmart when we resent God.
We basically say with our lack of faith, “I never really loved God, I just loved the stuff he gives.”
There is one thing I want to get across to you through examining pieces of the story of Job. And that is that God doesn’t change. Do you see that? There are parents in Connecticut that lost children to that disgusting act of violence last week. And as a father, I look at my kids and in my heart mourn with them. But what happened does not diminish in the least the fact that God is still on his throne. And there are those who will justify anger in their hearts towards God for the cards that life has dealt.
How quickly we forget, in addition to Job’s losing his health, wealth, and the adoration of his wife….job lost not one…not two…but all of his seven kids to a tragic, unexpected death. And Job mourned. And Job wept. And job hurt. But through it all, in the midst of his pain….Job praised God for the gifts that he had been given. And he acknowledged that even though it was painful to have those gifts taken away, they had only been on temporary loan to him. Because God is enough.
Do you think it’s a mere coincidence that God saw fit to have the story of Job recorded in scripture to be passed down through the generations? We don’t read our Bibles as some legalistic check mark or some badge of honor that we can tell others we read the Bible. The Bible was given to us so that we may know the character of God. And through that, we learn how to draw near to our creator in the best of times, and in the darkest of nights.
God doesn’t change. He is still the same as he was in Genesis, and in Job. Job could have easily started to curse God. He could have fallen back in unbelief and doubted his existence because life hadn’t turned out like he wanted. He could have clung to all that gifts God had given him and said, “MINE!!” But he didn’t. Job could have just laid down in depression and hurt as he waited for death. But he chose to trust in God.
In the final chapter of Job, he says this of his experience and what he learned from all of the loss he encountered….
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42: 1-6
Notice verse 5. Job says he had heard of God from the beginning, but only now after he has walked through such dark periods of life does he really see him. Sometimes God allows Satan to do his worst so that we may see what a savior he really is. You see, faith doesn’t grow in the good times. Faith in God grows in the trials of life. And Job goes on to say in verse 6 that he despises himself. Job realized how self centered in thinking he had been, and how little faith he had in God. Satan’s plan to pull Job away from God backfired. Instead, it drove Job further into knowing God. And the key part is to notice Job says he repents of his old ways.
After walking through the fires of life, Job knows something now that couldn’t have been learned by reading a book. Sometimes life experience is the best teacher. Job learned that God is enough. Trials will happen. Tragedies will occur. And life will never turn out like we expect.
In fact, nowhere in scripture do we see the example of a Christ follower who had a life of ease and comfort. The disciples and apostles lives were marked with persecution and suffering. They lost loved ones, and faced the atrocities of evil men constantly. Yet the example they set was one of a stead fast faith in the sovereign plan of God. How is it that modern Christianity thinks in some way that its followers deserve better than the very men who walked with God throughout the scriptures!
Job never forgot the loss he experienced in his life. But at the same time, Job didn’t cling to that which God took from him forever. He let it go, and realized that holding on to his pain only kept him from experiencing the good he might experience through a faith walk with God in the future. Again, Job lost seven children, his wealth, and everything else you could imagine. But through the pain, he came to know God not as the giver of gifts but the creator and sustainer of all that is good. And though there was pain and confusion at one point in Jobs life, be sure to read the end of the story….
“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. 11 Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil[ that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of moneyand a ring of gold.
12 And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. 13 He had also seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. 15 And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. 16 And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man, and full of days.” Job 42:10-17.
That is our God. And through it all…He is enough.