Our lives move like the ebb and flow of the tide. As we live in this world, it seems like trends move in out of our lives so fast that we aren’t aware the trend was there in the first place.
Looking back, there was once a time when I dedicated my life to God, inside and out. I woke early in the morning to give my first fruits as commanded by the Lord (Exodus 22:29), prayed the day in, studied every chance I got throughout the day, and then prayed the day out. What happened? Where did I make the turn to put God second in my life? Was He just a trend?
Now what do I do?
There are many trials and temptations in a Christian’s life, some that may even cause us to question the strength of our faith. This is not to say we live in doubt, or even continuously question. But sometimes we arrive at a point in life that make us wonder what we are supposed to do exactly.
How do we weather these trials? 1 Peter 1:6-7 says
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”
James 1:2-4 says
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”.
Let’s talk about Job for a minute…
When I think about the trials that our ancestors in the Bible experienced, Job is the first person who comes to mind. Job was such a God-fearing man that he offered sacrifices for the sins of his children. In spite of Job’s obedience, God still gave Satan permission to destroy all that Job had, even his good health.
In Job 2:9-10, Job’s wife told him to give up his integrity and reverence for God, and in Job 2:10, Job makes an interesting statement in response to his wife:
“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all that he went through, Job did not sin with his lips.
What did Job mean when he said, “Shall we receive good from God, and not evil?” Why did Job say this? Matthew Henry says, “Shall we, guilty, polluted, worthless creatures, receive so many unmerited blessings from a just and holy God, and shall we refuse to accept the punishment of our sins, when we suffer so much less than we deserve?” (Matthew Henry Concise – Job 2:7-10 Chapter 2) We are all sinners.
The statement made by Job in Job 2:10 simply means this: we have a two-way relationship with our Creator, give and take (free will). We can’t expect to continually receive blessings only due to the fact that we stem from fallen man. We inherently live in sin, no matter what good we do on this earth. We can’t expect to only receive blessings and no discipline. So, should our faith be tested by the way we live?
Even though Job did all that he thought should be done according to God, he still knew that he had come from fallen man, and he was by no means perfect (Job 14:1). So, if we look at Job, a devout lover of our Creator, and then take a look at ourselves, how do we compare?
I know that the moral of Job’s story is not God’s punishment for Job’s sins. It was a test. How much better do we have it when most of us are much more steeped in sin than Job? Or do we have it so much better? At times we may think yes, we are living a fairly good life. At other times we think we cannot deal with the fact that life seems to be so hard. But the hard reality is stated perfectly in Job 11:6 when Zophar speaks to Job about Job’s self-righteousness and self-proclaimed sinless life, “Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.”
Where then, do we find a starting point for trying to understand how we are to deal with the trials that we are blessed with? Proverbs 2:1-5 is a good start.
My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
This starts with trusting in our Creator. We need to trust that His intentions are to teach us what His divine wisdom will do to protect us from the temptations placed before us, and how to protect ourselves from falling into what the world and our flesh has to offer, which is ultimately sin and death. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity (Proverbs 2:7b).