Friday, July 30, 2010

A Biblical Understanding of Suffering - Part 3 of 5

Recapping, Part one is Constructive Suffering, Part two is Corrective Suffering... Part three then would be Suffering as a part of heavenly warfare.  Perhaps Heavenly warfare is not the best way to describe it.  Rather it is suffering that comes in a similar fashion to Job.

For an example of this we have to look to Job.  As the story opens, we see Job is happy and healthy.  He’s a favored man with many possessions.

Job 1:1-3 - There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.  2 Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.  3 His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

Enter into the scene… Satan.  Job 1:6-8 - Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.  7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”  8 The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”  Did you catch that?  Did you see that?  Satan appears before God.  The picture we get is that the presence of God is with Job’s family.  God has approved of the worship Job’s family is engaged in and He has accepted Job’s burnt offerings.  And Satan came and appeared before the Lord.  It doesn’t say why he came, although we can assume it was to accuse Job’s family before God just like he is the accuser of us all, all the time.  And God initiates a conversation with Satan.  “Have you considered my servant Job.”

Job 1:9-11 - Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing?  10 “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  11 “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.”

Satan says, you can’t use Job as an example of a person who hopes in You God because You protect Job and his family and bless him with gifts and possessions.  Satan is saying that true believers are only faithful while life is good and when good times go… so does their faith.

Job 1:12 - Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.  From this point in verse 12 and all the way through Job 2:8, God allows Satan to take away Job’s servants, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his camels, his sons and his daughters, and finally culminating in the striking of Job’s health.

How did Satan do it?  With the permission of god.  God has Satan on a leash essentially and God allowed Satan enough leash to do what was needed to prove to Satan that the faith of true believers is not in the good only that God gives, rather our hope is just in God.  Period.

How does God use Job to prove it?  Job 1:20-22 - Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 

Job 2:3 - The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” 

Job 2:9-10 - Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!”  10 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.

Shall we accept good from God and not adversity?  That sounds crazy!  Job is not cold hearted, he’s clearly mourning his losses, but he stands up through it because of his hope in God.  Listen, someone who is not a Christian… what hope for anything do they have to hold on to?  Nothing but this world which is perishing day by day.

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