Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Restoration and Renewal

Job, a righteous man, has been on some roller coaster ride: first he had a lot - he was wealthy with a good family; then he had nothing -  he lost all of his possessions, his children and his health. His friends comforted him initially, which was good, but they ended up rebuking him as they "comforted" him. A fourth friend shows up - Elihu, who offered more palatable advice and then disappeared. Then God showed up out of the whirlwind and questioned Job.

When we recite the story of Job, we talk about his suffering and his eventual restoration but we often overlook what happens before Job is restored.

After God confronted Job, he is humbled and expressed it in Job 42:2-6[NLT]:

I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job is humbled and acknowledged the sovereignty of God.  I think as humans we struggle with sovereignty - it's not a concept we are comfortable giving to other humans because we feel they are just like us. But God is not just like us - he is above us and defies human comprehension and is worthy of ascribing sovereignty. He can become like man and interact with us, but he is not only a man; He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.

Job also acknowledged his ignorance of God - surely I spoke of things I had no knowledge of. This may be the epitome of submission - recognizing that with all of your smarts, you will never be as knowledgeable of God.

He acknowledged that he had a spiritual encounter - not at all similar to what he had with his friends. His friends left him depressed and angry - God did not. As a matter of fact, Job was left in a better place emotionally and spiritually, though at this point in time his situation was still the same.

Job repented - "I despise myself." Job had an about face in his thoughts. Job knew he was a righteous man but after having an encounter with God, though righteous he despised himself. What a change in mindset.

Before Job was restored, God also rebuked Job's friends for the bad advice they gave him and for slandering God; they were wrong in their observations of how God works as it related to Job's life and in general. They did not provide an accurate representation of God's attributes; they totally overlooked God's grace, mercy and sovereignty. Therefore God instructed Job's friends to make a sacrifice and Job had to intercede or pray for them; at which point, God accepted Job's prayers on his friends behalf.

  • His fortunes were doubled
  • He had 10 more children - and his 3 daughters were considered especially beautiful
  • Friends came by to console him and to give donations
  • He went on to live to 140 and saw 4 generations of his children
  • He died an old man and full of years
We don't know how long Job's trials lasted, but he was never in them alone. God referred to Job as my servant, before the trials started and during the trials.

Sometimes, we wish to be restored and also have our latter greater than our beginning, without actually going through the trial and humbling ourselves. It's not just the going through, it's the changed mindset to one of submission that actually helps us to overcome.

Where are you right now? Are you encouraged by the story of Job? Do your trials make you stronger or bitter? In your trials are you momentarily angry with God or do you accept his sovereignty? Does knowing why you go through anything help you? If yes, how? If no, why not?

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