Wednesday, June 10, 2009

So you had a bad day....

We all have them, days that you wish you could forget, that seem like they never end and came straight out of the pits of Hell, at least to you anyway. You wonder if anyone understands how you feel and if there is anyone you could talk to about it who would see what happened your way. A lot of people handle bad days in different ways, some people explode in anger, some people turn to drugs or alcohol, some to sexual immorality, and some just have a generally sour disposition to where if they are miserable, they are bound and determined everyone else will be also. For all of those bad days in our lives, I don't believe anyone's "ultimate bad day" will compare to that of Job recorded in God's Word. Consider what Job lost in one horrifying afternoon:
  • All 10 of his children - 7 sons & 3 daughters
  • All but a handful of his many servants
  • 7000 sheep
  • 3000 camels
  • 1000 oxen - (500 yoke - a pair)
  • 500 donkeys

Job went from being the richest man in the world of his time to being penniless, he lost his place in the community, his family and he lost his health to where he was covered from head to toe in boils that he scraped with a broken piece of pottery. It was so bad that Job's wife told him to curse God and commit suicide because there was nothing left. His friends came to console him but it wasn't long before they began to accuse him of some horrible crime against God. How did Job respond to this calamity? In what has to be three of the most amazing verses in all the Bible, Job 1:20-22 says: "Then Job arose, tore his robe and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.' In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong."

I am stunned when I read that. Speechless is a good way to describe my feelings every time I read that. A knot tightens in the pit of my stomach when I place myself in Job's shoes (or sandles more likely). I don't have much in the realm of possessions, but I do have "stuff" we've accumulated in 24 years of marriage, I have my health, an incredible wife and 5 kids. I shudder to think how I'd respond if I lost all of my kids and stuff in one afternoon. Then I begin to think about all of my so-called "bad days" where I lost my cool because things didn't go as I planned and again I get sick. All of my bad days stacked up together don't even come close to this day in Job's life. It's all a matter of perspective and when you compare to Job's experience, I bet your bad days wouldn't come close either.

The amazing thing about Job also is that Job doesn't know why all this is happening, but we the readers know "the rest of the story" as old Paul Harvey used to say. See God was proving a point to Satan about the rock-solid faith of Job. God's commentary about Job in 1:8 is pretty amazing also: "Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?'" Are you kidding me? This was actually God's idea to hold Job up for Satan to look at and torment? That's right, it was God who instigated this examination of Job's faith in God and He permitted Satan to torment Job but restrained Satan from taking Job's life.

While I can't unpack all the lessons we learn from Job here, we have much to learn about faith from the life of this amazing saint of God. While Job didn't understand the whole picture, he did understand God was testing him and he demonstrates his faith that God was going to use this experience in his life to refine him and to make him more pure like the refining process with gold (see Job 23:10). The next time I have a bad day, I want to remember it pales in comparison to old Job. Maybe God is holding me up to some demonic being and saying "Have you considered my servant Ralph...?" Maybe you can insert your name there.

Contrary to much of the "prosperity gospel" many TV preachers advocate, where they basically claim trusting in Jesus means all your problems go away, Christians need to remember God wants to conform us to the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God has a right to use whatever means needed to refine us and remove the dross and impurities from our lives to draw us closer to Himself. Pray that God will give you the grace of old Job who said in Job 13:15 "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him..." Start filtering your bad days through the pages of Scripture and get a healthy dose of reality about your "bad day" and watch how your attitude changes. Just a thought from my little corner to yours...

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