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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Facing trials: Job [1]

A few days ago, someone asked me a question about Job, actually Mrs. Job. That made me think of the tough times we all go through, and get through. So I thought we'd spend a little time with Job. The text is long and complex, so we will try to focus here on the lessons contained therein.


We all have them. Some of us even seem to have more than our fair share! The Apostle James tells us to count them all joy. But, as we know, that is much easier to say than it is to do. 

We ask ourselves what may at times seem silly questions. What are trials and tests, anyway?

And.... why must we face them and why should we be told to count them a joy?

Is there a right way and a wrong way to approach trials?

Life is tough, and we' like to escape today, we'd like to get out from under. We would like to cast our hopes on tomorrow, but tomorrow's world is not here yet and we have to cope with the here and now. We have to be present to the pressures of life, the trials and tests of today.

What is a trial or temptation? The Greek terms “temptation,” “trial” or “test” used in the New Testament are all closely related. They are derived from peirazo, which means “to test,” “try” or “put to the proof,” and from peira, meaning “to attempt” or “to know by experience.” Another word, dokime, meaning “to test the genuineness of something,” is also used.

The book of James tells us that tests (or peirasmos, James 1:2) have a purpose. They are the process by which the genuineness of our faith is determined (dokime, v. 3). Throughout this process, the quality of steadfast character is developed!

We are not only told that we must undergo many tests throughout this life, but we are also given a pattern to follow in handling them. Face it. It is hard enough to maintain a good attitude when you are going through troubles that you know you brought on yourself. But what about when things and life feel patently unfair?

We are human. We all bristle at the idea of unfairness. If one does not seek to retaliate, get even and even the score, it seems almost,  un-American!

The Apostle Peter tells us:

For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ” (1 Peter 2:19–23).

The English word “example” used in verse 21 is from upogrammos meaning “a writing copy.” It was a term used for a child’s copybook. The child, in copying every stroke of every letter, learned to reproduce the writing of the teacher.

Christ is to be our pattern. We are to seek to reproduce His approach to life’s difficulties as closely as possible.

Besides Christ’s example, James 5:9–10 cites the prophets as worthy of consideration when it comes to handling trials. Most of the prophets of God suffered for their faithfulness.

The Patriarch Job is pointed out in verse 11 as an outstanding example of steadfast faith in the way he handled severe trials. The book of Job is the story of a normal human being who is beset by misfortune and suffering. Let's look at some of the specific lessons we can learn about responding to trials as revealed in the book of Job.

First Lesson — God Knows

One of the things that helps beat us up (or down) during a severe trial can be the sense of isolation. We worry that God doesn't know. We want to make sure that He knows because when He finds out, surely He’ll do something about it!

In Job we get kind of a behind-the-scenes look at events of which Job was completely unaware.

But we can clearly see that God was very much aware of Job's suffering, and of the wholehearted obedience he sought to render. In fact, it is God Himself Who called Satan’s attention to Job.

"Have you considered my servant Job?" (Job 1:7-9)

In the New Testament, Christ reminded His disciples in Luke 12:6–7 that God, who even takes detailed note of the sparrows, is much more deeply interested in the affairs of His own children, us.

The Father is aware of everything about us down to the smallest detail. Even the hairs of our head are numbered...


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