Good morning Friend,
When the word “Affliction” comes to mind, it sort of drags along a Bible Character with it, such that you can’t seem to see affliction in isolation without this guy. So, who would this guy be?
Let me give you a few options…
Okay, so out of all these J men who would you go with? I bet you’d rather make a gamble with JOB. Anytime the Pastor says “open your Bible to the book of Job”, a chilly feeling permeates through the audience, giving a foretaste of the manner of message we are about to hear, and it ain’t gonna be exciting. For over 30 chapters, all we seemingly see in this book is gloom, doom, pain, horror, tragedy, loss, betrayal, self-defense, curses, condemnation, accusation, pressure, sickness, depression, disaster… it sure isn’t the best choice of story to read to your lil toddlers for a bed time narrative.
But God caused it! Someone says. He was the one that invited the enemy into Job’s matter. The devil was already busy (going upandan) without Job and he had marked Job “untouchable” until God “opened” his eyes to the weakness in Job’s life. Imagine the devil actually convincing God that the protection He had over Job is impenetrable and God is like “hmmn, naa… there is still a loophole somewhere, you go check him out, but don’t take his life”. On getting there, the devil is shocked to his bones (btw, the devil doesn’t know everything! he needed some intelligence from God’s cabinet before he could exploit the lacuna in Job’s life). The devil realized Job wasn’t as immune as he had initially thought and then he began to afflict Job, and oh boy what a filled day he had with Job! He did everything his CV (John 10:10a) boasts of, to Job, except for the portion that God had forbidden him to exercise.
Listen Friends, when a man wants to boast about his son, he speaks of his achievements. When a woman wants to boast about her daughter, she speaks of her character but when God wants to make a boast about His child, He speaks of his unwavering faith. Nothing else gives God goosebumps (if God has a skin) more than the undying, unfettered, unwavering, unfeigned faith His child has in Him, especially in hard times. That is why Jesus (pre-incarnation) fellowshipped with the Hebrew boys in Daniel 3, that is why Jesus stood up for Stephen in Acts 7, that is why God visited the building where the Apostles prayed with a shaking after they refused to bow the knee to the council’s threat in Acts 4. Others who don’t stand in hard times may be civilians, but only those who are willing to take stripes for Jesus can be termed soldiers. This was the knowledge Apostle Paul sought after in Philippians 3:10. He wanted to know Jesus beyond “Give me this day my daily bread…” and enter into “That I may know You… and the fellowship of Your sufferings”. There is a message of ease out there making every believer into softie. People who cannot hold their turf and tell the devil to his face “hit me with your best shot, is that all you’ve got?”. What we have are believers who are going to run from challenges with their tails curled up under between their legs, straight ahead to God to challenge Him with the popular love question.
God didn’t afflict Job, (oh I hope I can finish this is this installment), the devil obviously did, God however wanted to establish Job on a Faith that never fails. Job’s faith was in his own performance and rituals and sacrifices and not in God’s benevolence and immaculate love. God always seeks to unseat every kind of faith that is not founded in Him. In Luke 22:31, Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith will not fail, and the next thing we see is that right after that, Peter’s faith actually more than failed, it collapsed before a little girl. His faith was in his ability to keep his promise to Jesus. “Oh, I will never leave you, even if others leave, in fact I’m ready to die with you Lord…” but what happened? His faith in himself failed and Jesus looked straight at him at the third crow of the cock (vs 61) with this “I told you so” look. So one question, did Jesus’s prayer for Peter get answered or not? Since we see that right after Jesus’s prayer, Peter’s faith actually failed. Well, yes Peter’s faith failed so that Jesus’ prayer could be answered! Peter’s faith had to fail so he could be established on a faith that never fails. In the same vein, Job’s faith in himself had to fail, so he could be established on a faith that never fails.
It would interest you to know that for 41 chapters, Job only had information about God, perhaps from his pastor, but he never had a personal revelation of who God is.
Job 42:5 (KJV) “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.”
For the first time in Job’s experience, he met with the reality of who God is; LOVE. That is why the first step to his recovery was acting in love towards his friends by praying for them. Isn’t it ironical? That the only message every affliction seeks to convey to you is that God does not love you, and then many times, we just play right into the hand of the enemy and question God’s Love because of the afflictions we go through. The beginning of the journeys into apostasy and atheism started out with questions bordering on the God’s Love. Perhaps they lost a dear one and it seemed like God was silent, and they took it up against God. Apostle Paul said in Romans 8 that what exactly is that thing that can separate us from God’s love? What can happen to you that will make you question God’s Love for you? Is it trial, tribulation, persecution, peril, nakedness, famine, sword? But we then take it to the next level and say to the enemy that those ones are even small, because we have a revelation of God’s love in our heart, we are more than conquerors and not even death, or life, or angels, or principalities, or powers, or heights, or any creature can separate us from the Love that is in Christ Jesus. So for you, is it the loss of a job? The death of a loved one? The delay in your marriage? The denial of a visa? As long as it is captured in Romans 8:35-39, never allow it to separate you from God’s love.
God’s Recipe for Stability and Victory in Afflictions is for you to have a robust understanding of God’s Love and Grace to you. Again, I say that in trying times, knowing that God loves you is a pillar to rest on and not a theory to question. When you’re going through those hard times, the devil wants you to look at the circumstances you’re going through, but God wants you to look at the Cross. Romans 8:32 says that If He spared not His Own Son for you, is it these tiny little potatoes (as put in the Message Translation of 2 Cor 4:17) that should affect your perception of His love for you? When your faith is founded in His Love for you, which never fails (1 Cor 13:8), then your faith will never fail, no matter what you go through. And then by this energized faith, you can overcome the world… Gloryyyyyyy!!! 1 John 5:4. With this understanding, the next time the devil comes to try your resolve and faith in God, you simply laugh him to scorn thereby vexing all of his attempts to get you to question God’s love for you. No matter what you go through in this life, it can never come close to be compared with the value and worth of the already made sacrifice of Jesus for you. Never let anyone or anything cheapen that eternal gesture with a fleeting affliction that would still pass anyway.
Friends, This is the path to a stable and victorious Christian life.
God bless your heart. We have come to the end of this short series and I trust that you were blessed. Do share. God bless your heart.