Do not be afraid! I am with you.

In perilous times of a global epidemic, it can be a great source of inspiration to draw from Gods Word and others who went through suffering.  In the Bible there is perhaps none greater than Job, for this.
The story of Job is about a righteous man who lived long ago.  He has 10 children and is very wealthy.  He fears God and shuns evil.  Satan approaches God and gains permission to afflict Job by taking all his children, possessions and severely damaging his body.  This story is known as, “the test of Job’s faith”. 

I believe Job can teach us many things about God and life in hard times.  Today, I want to draw your attention to four points that can help us navigate dark waters.

1 God is boasting about you

The reason Job caught the devil’s attention in the first place, was because God had been boasting about him in Heaven (Job 1:8).  Job entreated God’s favour and this enraged the devil to conspire and want to harm him, in order to get Job to curse God (v11).

Whenever we go through undeserved trials, I believe God has been boasting about His Children.  The Accuser has been enraged and is wanting to hurt us, but God has more faith in us than what our Accuser is saying, so He has allowed what we are going through.  He knows that we won’t curse Him and we can overcome what the enemy would throw at us.

2 Don’t be a Job’s Comforter

After Job is afflicted, he is overwhelmed with grief.  He tears his clothes and sits ashes, he cuts his boils open with glass and sits in silence (2:8).  He has three friends that come to mourn with and comfort him.  As they sit with him they start to ponder, they say that Job must have done something wrong because God is just, and rewards our works – whether good or bad.

Many people (even believers) are also trying to figure out why we are facing this global pandemic.  Many are laying the blame for Corona on China, 5G, New World Order, God’s judgement, the mark of the beast or some other conspiracy. 

At the end, the Lord said to one of Job’s friends (42:7) “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”  Job’s friends were finishing what the devil had started – accusing.  Trying to reason and lay blame, is not God’s way.

Job said to his friends (16:7), “You are miserable comforters, all of you!  Will your long-winded speeches never end?  What ails you that you keep on arguing? I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you.  But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.”

In a time of crisis, we can try to find fault and lay blame, or we can bring comfort to those who are going through the crisis.  The Lord said that Job’s way was right.  Encouraging one another is a better way, a higher way, a way of trust and hope.  Our compassion will seek to lighten others’ loads and bring comfort and relief. 

3 He didn’t curse or blame, he worshipped and repented

Although the devil wanted Job to curse God, he never did.  He fell down and worshipped God (1:20).  Job was never in it for the blessings, he was in it because he genuinely loved, trusted and feared God.  His friends tried to find a reason to blame Job.  In all his suffering, Job is yearning to ask God, “Why?”.  God comes at the end and says He is God, there is none like Him.  He lists some amazingly wonderful and complex things; which God created and says these are small things for God (ch 39-41).
 God basically says that Job couldn’t understand if God was to tell Him why.  The lesson is we don’t need to know why, we need to know that God knows why, and we can trust Him – He is good. 

Job, even though he never sinned, repented for questioning God.  I believe that there are two motives for questioning God; questions rooted in doubt or in faith.  The name Job means turning.  Job turned to God even though he didn’t know why, he knew God.  May we all have this kind of trust in God – a blindly trusting faith.  He is worthy and worth it.  He is amazing and ultimate goodness.

In the midst of the Corona pandemic, we don’t have to know why or how, we need to trust God.  He will come and He will save.  In the meantime we can use this time of lock down like a butterfly uses a cocoon, to press into God and emerge transformed by His Word and His Spirit.  To then go pollinate the world with the life giving gospel of Jesus.

  4 It is still only Friday, Sunday is coming

Romans 8:28 says that God makes all things work together for our good.  At the end of his ordeal, God comes and speaks face to face with Job and answers his question.  Not with a direct reply, but with a deeper revelation of who God is.  This is what will inevitably happen out of every hard situation in your life.  Your faith will be strengthened, and you will come out of it closer to God.  Praise the Lord this isn’t the only way our faith is refined, or we would be able to boast.  God often also surprises us with gifts, which also serves to bolster our faith.
At the end of this God also blesses Job with double of everything he lost; double the children, double the stuff, and double the honour from both his friends and people afar (ch 42).  On top of knowing God and His ways more, you will exit the trial with the double blessings.  We call this, double for your trouble.  This is the promise we can hold on to, given Job as an exemplar. 

We look at the suffering of Job and call it the test of his faith, but what we miss is the context of it being 40 days in about 200 years.  I would call it, “a momentary pause until the goodness of God is revealed.”  And this is what all our afflictions are.  It’s only a matter of time until God comes and reveals Himself and blesses us.

It’s only a matter of time until Corona is but a distant memory.  Out of this time, we will emerge better people and the earth will be a better place.  God will restore double to those who suffered.  Hopefully we be able to see this sooner rather than later.

Job ultimately points us to Jesus. 

He is a type of Jesus – the suffering servant.  Even though this suffering servant humbled himself and demonstrated love as strong as death, by taking on himself, our sinful nature and the curse of humanity, to the rugged cross – it was only a beginning to the story.  The story ended with Jesus overcoming death and forever being seated at the right hand of the Father, in glory.  He endures the pain of the cross for the joy, the victory – you and me, with Him forever.

All our hard times will inevitably deepen our faith and be rewarded by God’s goodness and glory.  They are an accelerator and promoter.  We do not need to worry or fear when in the trial, because God is with us, He will make it turn out good.  

You will make your prayer to Him, He will hear you, and you will pay y our vows. You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you; so light will shine on your ways.  JOB 22:27-28

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