"Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then, it will be a really good day." Louie Schwartzberg
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The Toughest of Times -- A Guest Post by Paul

posted by Susan Dominikovich on , ,

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“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Corinithians 4:16-18)

I have heard someone mention in a sermon that the book of Job was about a guy "who had a really bad day."  He wasn't preaching on Job but another topic, so I let it go.  However, it keeps coming back.

Because Job is about so much more than a guy having a really bad day.

"God said to Satan, "Have you noticed my friend Job?  There's no one quite like him -- honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil."  (Job 1:8)

And so Satan proceeded to throw everything he could at Job.  

So much more than just a really bad day.

And to anyone who has suffered or has experienced spiritual persecution like Job, to say that it's a book about a man having a really bad day seems at best a poor choice of words.

Now I do understand why this preacher said it.  In grace I can see that he was trying to make easier something that is difficult to face and understand as Christians living a victorious life.   I can understand that. 

Sometimes life isn't nice.  Sometimes it isn't neat.  And sometimes we do have really bad days.  But it isn't always that we're just having a really bad day.  For whatever reason, we need to be able to see the hope that we have in Jesus Christ that will get us through the awfulness that we face every single day.  

Sometimes we suffer because of circumstances outside of ourselves.  Sometimes we suffer because we are persecuted.  Sometimes we see others suffer and go through persecution and it hurts us and drives us to ask difficult questions.

I am not saying that every time we suffer we are being spiritually persecuted; however, as believers, we are still in this world, and the devil is the Prince of this World (John 16:11). Jesus taught us to pray, "keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil."  (Matthew 6:13).  Most convincingly, Jesus prayed to the Father himself, "I'm not asking that you take them out of the world/But that you guard them from the Evil One."  (John 17:15).  Spiritual persecution does lead to us having really bad days indeed.  Several of them.

Eugene Peterson writes in his introduction to Job in The Message, "It is not only because Job suffered that he is important to us.  It is because he suffered in the same ways that we suffer -- in the vital areas of family, personal health, and material things"  (The Message, p 631).  The book of Job teaches us that we will suffer even though we are living a victorious life in Christ.

This week, a really horrible tragedy has occurred in the New Plymouth community.  A much-loved, respected and admired teenage boy lost his fight with a sudden illness.   It has rocked and shaken the community.  Boys' High will close next week to host his funeral.  Many students are affected by his death, not to mention his extensive and nuclear family.  It is the extreme of awful and people are struggling and suffering because of it.

My husband Paul is a maths teacher at this school, and he also is privileged to be able to meet with a bunch of Christian boys twice a week for study and prayer.  He knows first-hand how the school is struggling with grief and has prepared a study for his boys today.  It is no coincidence that his study is on the first two chapters of Job.  It is entirely appropriate and God-inspired.  I have asked him if I could include his study here, as a guest post if you like.  This is just the nuts and bolts of his study which will of course develop more fully in discussion.  But it is timely because it is a real response to a real situation and offers hope out of suffering.

The Toughest of Times

When we think of God giving and taking away the story of Job comes immediately to mind.  Job had wealth and prosperity like no other person and he loved God.  In an instance all he had was taken from him and if that wasn’t enough he later developed painful sores all over his body.  He did not deserve this, yet he accepted God’s will for his life.  The story of Job retold in JOB 1 and 2 is disturbing, but there are lessons in here for us too.

·         Job had a great relationship with God.  Blameless, upright, feared God, shunned evil, burnt offerings in case his children sinned.  He wasn’t just great because of his wealth.
·         Satan roams this earth, he gets an audience with God, he knows us by name and he has intimate knowledge about our circumstances.  He is a fearsome enemy.
·         Satan has many resources at his disposal.  Neighbouring peoples, fire from the sky and mighty winds were called upon to destabilise Job’s life.
·         Charging God with wrongdoing is a sin (1:22)  Job accepted that God is sovereign over his circumstances and this please God (2:3b)
·         Sometimes those close to us will make mistakes.  Job’s wife wrongfully challenged him and he needed to rebuke her (2:10)

Job’s situation is extreme.  He was so righteous that God could confidently trust Job with a testing extremely severe.  Job survived (and was later restored; Chapter 42) but it was the testing that proved Job’s faith.  We all wish to avoid times of trouble, but they will come and our faith will be tested.  Job didn’t have the Bible to find encouragement from, but we can look at 2 CORINTHIANS 4:16-18:  

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  

Job seemed to understand this.  Do we?

Paul Dominikovich

We have hope because "inwardly we are being renewed day by day" through our relationship with Jesus Christ and by the work of His Holy Spirit in us.  It is a relationship that achieves for us eternal glory.  Hallelujah!  

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