Turning Job into Joy takes a very big “Y”

Posted: 03/02/2011 in Man of God, Personal Walk, Sermons/Bible Study Revelations
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I am a strange fellow.

Those who know me best will probably join in a resounding agreement of this rather than a defense.

The strange thing, that makes me happy.

If there is any doubt of my strangeness, I wanted to take a moment to point to an appropriate example. It all has to do with one of my favorite books of the Bible: Job.

Job, a book about God allowing a faithful man to lose all that he had, I love because of how much it brings me comfort, strength and… well joy.

“Wait a minute! You can’t find joy in a book as discouraging and gloomy as Job!”

Saying Job is a source of joy, seems akin to saying the Romeo & Juliet was a happy tale, or that Hamlet ended well for everyone.

This book appears on the surface to be the pure definition of tragedy: an affluent Godly man, who lost all of his property, his wealth, his health and his children. Also, it seems so arbitrary the way that God and Satan ‘bet’ on a man’s life, and that God allows Satan to wreak such havoc in the life of such a righteous man. Why would you call this a book that points to joy?

“Why” is an excellent question.

Why did Job experience all of these things? Why did such terrible things happen to this man?

It is THIS question that actually makes this book so difficult for people to read, but it is also THIS question at which the book of Job is persistently trying to answer.

Why?

The bulk of this book (Chapter 3-37) is a conversation between Job and various people around him as they wrestle through the reason why such calamity would befall this man. The vast majority of this is between Job and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.

They sit with him for a week mourning the extent of his suffering, but their compassion changes to accusation as they grapple with the “Why”.

Doesn’t God operate so that good things happen to good people, and bad things to bad.

But what about Job? What about this man who is constantly worshiping God? The clean simplistic notions of cause & effect, of “what-goes-around-comes-around”, of moralistic karma are crashing down with the reality of Job’s situation. The only thing that makes sense to them is that Job must be hiding something. If you broke down the majority of the conversation it would come to:

“Come on, Job, get real with us.”
“You must have some dirty secret that explains all this.”
“Admit it, and this misery will start going away.”

I can’t even imagine how much MORE difficult these “friends” must have made it.

Can you imagine going to a father who had lost all his children and said, “I’m sorry you lost your kids, it must have been your fault, what did you do?”

Why, Indeed?

If I am honest, in the past I might not have asked such a pointed questions, but I probably would have thought, “Geez, Job, what did you do to tick God off?”

Fortunately, there have been a number of things that God has brought be through and taught me by that have begun to bring a new perspective on this passage.

The first thing is that God clearly rebukes Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar: “After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right…”(Job 42:7) so I’m pretty sure they got it wrong when they blamed Job’s situation on a hidden sin.

Secondly, the end of this passage is a reminder to Job of who God is, and in turn who Job IS NOT.  This might seem like a strange thing to do to a man who worshiped God daily, but the last sections of rhetorical questions have softly matured from the harsh challenge I thought they once were, to a testament to the glory and might of God and a reminder that His strength and governance never wanes. Couldn’t God have just skipped to declaring who He is and not put Job through such a painful season of pain and suffering?

That brings me to the last bit, the lesson that has taken me ages to begin to understand, the thing that has rounded out this book… and it comes by way of a story.

Chris absolutely loved Tang and Spaghettios; it was all that he would ever eat. Breakfast, lunch and dinner was the same thing 365 days a year.

Chris’ parents tried to get him to eat other things like Prime Rib, or Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, or Mashed Potatoes & Gravy. They tried and they tried, but Chris wouldn’t have anything to do with it. All he wanted was Tang and Spaghettios.

Why not? They were delicious, and filling and Oh, so conveniently packaged

It made Chris’ parents sad, because they knew Chris would be so much more satisfied with better food.  They also knew that Tang and Spaghettios wouldn’t give him all that he would need to grow up to be strong and healthy.

Knowing that Chris didn’t realize what he missing what he really needed, his parents began trying hundreds of strategies to try to get him to try what they were offering. It never worked.

As time passed Chris’ parents realized he would get very sick if they didn’t do anything, so they threw away all of the Tang and Spaghettios.

At breakfast Chris was distraught, there was nothing there for him to eat.

At lunch he began to get light-headed and wondered if he would ever eat again.

At dinner time his stomach hurt, but he couldn’t find any Tang or Spaghettios.

This continued for three days and Chris couldn’t believe how mean and terrible his parents were being to him.

Did they want him to starve to death?!?! How could they be so mean, so cruel?

The next day Chris was sitting at the breakfast table, and once again there were no Tang and Spaghettios. As he was sulking, he realized the yellow fluffy things, and the flat brown frizbee things that had been there everyday before actually smelt amazing! He pulled out his fork and instantly fell in love with scrambled eggs and pancakes with maple syrup.

At lunch he discovered that the weird toasted square and hot red bowl of liquid that had been there everyday since the disappearance of his Tang and Spaghettios, was absolutely delicious. Also while it reminded him of the Spaghettios, he was delighted at how a Grilled Cheese sandwich and a hot bowl of Sun-dried Tomato Soup were SO MUCH better.

At dinner he hardly remembered even liking Tang and Spaghettios, when he found out that the weird thing that his parents called Fajitas, that they had made every night prior, were his favorite thing yet.

Chris ate and was satisfied.

Is this story highly simplistic? Yep, but I think it points to the heart of the matter.

I know it seems offensive to equate the trials that Chris went through, to those of Job’s, but it helps to reveal that some pain and trial and tragedy is actually for our benefit.

It was not some hidden sin that Chris loved Spaghettios and Tang, but it wasn’t what would have been best for him. It took, what he saw as tragedy: his parents taking away what he loved, what he thought he would need… for him to abandon it for that which he would not survive without. Likewise it wouldn’t bring joy to Chris’ parents to see him suffer, but out of love they knew that it was worth it.

I doubt many of us find our hope and satisfaction and joy solely in Tang and Spaghettios (I actually really dislike them now), but I also doubt that many of us place our hope and satisfaction and joy solely in God. If it is true that all things will fail us, but God, it is a sign of his love when he challenges us to depend solely on him.

John Piper writes a decent bit of poetry and I liked this set of lines from his piece on Job:

“The Lord has made me drink
the cup of his severity
That he might kindly show to me
What I would be when only he
Remains in my calamity.
Unkindly he has kindly shown

That he was not my hope alone.”I find joy in Job, because it remind me that God uses all trial and triumphs as a means to bring me into a greater understanding of how glorious and amazing He is. I love that God is constantly about the business of showing me that the things I say are going to bring me life, make me happy, fulfill some un-met need, are essentially Tang and Spaghettios in comparison to him.

I find such hope and joy, that even at the cost of my happiness and comfort, God loves me to the point of removing or destroying the things I think I can’t do without, so that I will depend solely on the One I WILL NOT survive without.

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Comments
  1. coffeenut79 says:

    What a great insight into that inspiring story.
    You’re not the only one who flinds joy in Job’s suffering. I am not glad he suffered, but there was a “happily Ever After” at the end. Seeing how God blessed Job’s faithfulness more than you could even imagine was very encouraging.
    Whenever I was struggling with something that seemed bigger than myself, remembering the story of Job comforts me. It is a promise that God will take care of me if I trust Him to. Job did, despite the nagging his friends to curse God and be done with it.
    I still see that Satan still wants that to happen for God’s people – He wants us to curse him and turn away from trusting Him. God uses the story of Job to remind us to stand firm. He gave us a good weapon against the King of Lies. 😉
    Love your blog, Michael… I look forward to reading it when you post a new one.

    • mgmstudious says:

      It is amazing that God blessed Job in the end, but I think many times we can tend to see/believe the following is happening in this story:

      Job = Good Man => God Blesses

      Satan Man => Attacks Good Man Job

      Job = Steadfast Good Man => God Blesses More

      The problem with this is that you have this paradigm of God and Satan constantly at odds when it comes to our circumstances. We can believe… if God is in control, our lives are good, when Satan is attacking, our lives are bad, but if we persist God will reward us with good. The basis of this is that God and Satan are in a constant chaotic wrestling match, and our lives are randomly tossed to and fro depending on who is on the offensive. What this leads us to, is a “Happily Ever After” where we hope and pray that we can persevere long-enough for God to be “back in control,” and when that happens our lives can be blessed once again. NOT GOOD.

      God Desires Job to Know Him & Worship Him => God Blesses Job => Job is Drawn to Worship

      Job is Blessed=> Job Tempted to Worship Blessing and Not God

      Satan Desires to Attack Job => ALWAYS Needs God’s Permission

      God Desires Job to Know Him & Worship Him = Job Blessed by God, not things => Gives Satan Permission

      Satan seeks to destroy => God is in control and uses it teach Job

      God Desires Job to Know Him & Worship Him => God Further Reveals Himself to Job => Job Responds in Deeper Love & Worship

      God Desires Job to Know Him & Worship Him => God Blesses Job

      The “Happily Ever After” isn’t God replacing the things that Job lost; he would have still mourned the loss of his children, nothing could ever actually replace them. But the “Happily Ever After is that Job gets is to be in deeper relationship, knowing more fully how weak he is, and how magnificent and glorious is his God.

      Let me put it in other words:
      I heard once “Anyone who can imagine a heaven (Happily Ever After) that doesn’t include Jesus, and is okay with that, isn’t going to end up in Heaven” It is so easy for us to see Job as a story of the things that he lost and the things that he gained, but it is more so a story of the majesty and glory and sovereignty of God and how to put our hope in anything else is to compromise and settle for something far less than “Happily Ever After.”

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