Ever wonder who’s to blame for all the junk in your life? When you sin, did the Devil make you do it? When you stumble, is it because your parents didn’t teach you well enough? Are you overweight because McDonald’s serves those dog-gone fries? We’re great at assigning blame. That’s nothing new, of course. Remember our first ancestors? Adam: “It’s that woman you gave me. She gave me the fruit and I ate it.” Uh, who ate it, Pal? Eve: “It’s that blasted serpant’s fault!” (my paraphrase). So, it’s been happening from the beginning and we have continued the tradition right on through today.
Here’s a thought to consider: What if God is the cause of much of the junk in your life? Gasp! “Heresy! Heresy! This guy’s a heathen!” (or heathern if you’re from the South). OK, I’m not talking about the sin, just the hard stuff…maybe even much of the stuff you blame the Devil for.
Job is actually right in assuming that God ordained that these bad things to happen to him, but wrong in assuming that they are for his downfall.
Look at it like this: Satan is the agent through which Job’s challenges come, but God is the Sovereign…even when it is bad.
I am reminded again how even the bad that comes, for one who is in the favor of God, is not ultimately bad. As John Piper has said, for the one who has been redeemed by Christ, suffering is not punitive, it is purifying. What great encouragement!
In light of Christ, we can rejoice that “all things work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28), All things are purifying. Job was purified through his suffering, in the end coming to see God more clearly than he had ever seen Him before…this time looking at God through humbled eyes.
I want to encourage you, when you are walking through the wilderness of despair because things just aren’t working out for you, before you start placing blame everywhere else, consider a couple of steps first:
1. Look in the mirror. Is there something in you that needs to be dealt with (a character flaw that needs to be cured, a sin that needs to be killed, an attitude that needs to be adjusted)? If so, lay that down in prayer. Ask Christ to minister to you in these areas.
2. Look to Christ. Is there something that He is wanting to do in your life to make you more like Him? The refining fire is usually painful. Did you get that? It is usually painful. In other words, what you are going through is not uncommon; you’re not the only one in the world dealing with this, so don’t fall victim to following the pity-party-path. If you are being refined, it is a blessing! You are not being left to your own depravity, but the Spirit of God is active in you. Choose to celebrate this fact in the midst of your pain or discomfort.
3. Share it. Walking through refinement alone is sometimes necessary. However, most of the time you have the opportunity to gain support from those around you, encouragement in the toughest parts, and people to celebrate with when you see the growth. Often, it takes those on the outside of the “cloud” to point out to you just how much growth is actually occurring in you. Take advantage of these gifts God has put in your life.
The bottom line is this: God is a good and sovereign God. Deal with this. Understand that often what appears as evil in our lives is actually the grace of a holy God and the only way you are going to know the difference is by walking closely with Him in prayer.
The real change in Job happened near the end of the story, when it was just Job and God in conversation. Then again, that’s when real change always happens.