Broken, But Not Forsaken
Paul wrote to the Corinthians that he was 'afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed' (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). In this life we will experienece pain; God promises to take us through to the other side.
1. Enjoy Your Blessings
The book of Job begins and ends with brief biographical descriptions; in between is one long one conversation where Job's friends try to comfort him. The beginning shows an immensley wealthy man who loved God. Even though life is difficult, it's not all difficulty; we go through pockets of blessing. There are two reasons we may not enjoy the blessings God gives:
- We feel like we don't deserve it.
- We know it's going to come to an end.
We're right on both counts - we don't deserve it, and it will come to an end, but you know what? It's God's prerogrative to bless, and if he does - enjoy it.
2. Cover Your Ears
Sometimes people with good intentions do stupid things. The three guys who showed up to comfort Job in his afflication were mega, big-time knuckleads. Here's a summary of their input:
- Bad stuff doesn’t happen to good people.
- If you were innocent, God would help you.
- You’re full of hot air, and you deserve worse than God has given you.
- You are a lying, guilty sinner and should admit it.
When God shows up, he tells these guys they don't know what their talking about. It is dangerous to listen to people who have a skewed perspective on God. Our friends can often identify our issues; they see stuff they don't. But if their understanding of God is wrong, then their interpretation of our life and our problems will be wrong. Guard what you listen to.
3. From Broken to Blessing
Up to this point, the focus of the book thirty-nine chapters has been reflections on why Job has experienced tragedy. Job finally realised that his three friends are worse off than him: the worst predicament possible for a human is to have an inaccurate perspective of God.
At the end of the story, Job takes a remarkable step of faith: he had lost his family, his wealth, and his health; his friends lost God, and that meant they were worse off than him. So what did he do? Job 42:10
And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.
After all the talking, pontificating and philosophical posturing, Job realises his friends are worse off than he is, and he prays for them. Victory comes when we get our eyes off our selves and find someone in a worse predicament than us and pray for them.
Job's story ends well; likewise, God invites us to get our eyes off ourselves onto those around us who desperately need God's help.