We all go through storms in life. More often than not they arrive without notice and catch us completely off-guard. We can go from one ordinary day to our world flipped upside down within minutes. Other times, it may not be so sudden but after a while, we look at our lives and wonder how we went from such a good life to so much misery. We may have different ways of dealing with life’s challenges but the Word of God gives an effective approach to take when faced with adversity. God knew that we would have challenges in life so he put the advice there ahead of time. In this book, you and I take a journey through the lives of Joseph, Job, Ruth and Jesus. For every one of them there is a different kind of challenge but in the end, their lives are restored and they have joy again. What started out as hardship or tragedy ends beautifully. So, how did God help them? Why was God’s favor on them? How come it got better for them? What did they do right? These are questions I answer in the book. The answers are important for you because they will help you understand how God works in adversity. They will give you real hope for your situation and set you on the path to experience brighter days.
EXCERPT FROM BRIGHTER DAYS
Job was a faithful servant of God who experienced so much tragedy that he questioned the meaning of life. Although he never lost his faith in God, he did wonder why good people were subject to as much suffering if not more than the wicked. In frustration and anger he cast many questions at God, some of which you may have heard or indeed asked yourself. Job did not get a response for quite a while, but when God spoke, instead of giving a solitary answer, he asked Job numerous questions of his own.
The response was a revelation of the sovereignty and wisdom of God. Job received a deeper understanding of his Creator’s ways and it humbled him. In the end, God restored Job’s losses and made his life better than it had been before.
From Job’s experience, we learn that God’s ways are higher than our own and always in line with what is best for us. Job’s life story exhibits God’s profound knowledge, which helps us understand why he permits adversity in our lives. Ultimately, we realise that what he requires of us is a steadfast faith in him; he wants us to trust him, regardless.
Reference: Job chapters 1-42
Job was a man described as upright and blameless before God (Job 1:1). He had seven sons and three daughters and was very wealthy. His substance comprised seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels and five hundred pairs of oxen. The number of the oxen gives us an idea of how much land Job possessed. A pair could easily plough a three-hectare piece of land and he had five hundred. Besides his wealth, Job was a prominent man in the land where he dwelt, the people respected him and he lived as a prince among them. Job seemed to have everything a person living in his time would want.
The picture the account paints is one of a man blessed by God. Job’s faithfulness to God ensured that everything he did succeeded. The people of the land attached his prosperity to the righteousness they saw in him. As we shall see ahead, this was a mistake. Our obedience to God will allow his favor to flow in our lives, but remaining faithful to him does not mean we shall have no major challenges in life.
Job’s seven sons used to host feasts in their respective houses, each in his turn. At every feast, they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. After these banquets, Job would make a sacrifice to God and pray for his children. Job’s children were not quite like their father; he felt the need to pray on their behalf and did not seem to trust their relationship with God.
The account then gives us a rare look into the spiritual world. The Adversary (Satan) presents himself before God to deride the righteousness of Job. God knew his intentions and asked, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (Job 1:8). The Adversary replied saying, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:9-11). God then said, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand” (Job 1:12).
This part of the account is eye-opening. We observe that God speaks and listens to the Adversary. What stands out most though, is God giving him permission to do as he pleases with all that Job had. God said, “All that he has is in your hand.” Well, that does not sound too encouraging you may think, why would God allow the Adversary to destroy the life of a good man? The simple answer is that God wanted to use Job’s life to demonstrate that we can trust him even when nothing seems to make sense. For the detailed answer, just keep reading.
So God spoke to the Adversary and yes he gave him authority over all Job possessed, but this should be good news to us. First, it tells us that if we are living within the will of God, the Adversary has no authority to lay a finger on us at will. Secondly, if he does get permission from God he can only touch what God permits. Thirdly and best of all, the outcome of any affliction God allows us to experience will be good, this will become clear as we carry on.
One day, when Job’s children were having their customary banquet, there were simultaneous assaults on all that he valued. The Sabeans raided his cattle, lightning struck his sheep, the Chaldeans took his camels and a windstorm destroyed the house in which his children feasted.
Job lost all his livestock and most of his servants but more significantly, his seven sons and three daughters perished in the storm. It obviously grieved him deeply but this was not just misfortune, it was the work of the Adversary. The arrangement of the attacks (all at the same time) was designed to shock and ultimately overwhelm Job. In spite of this, Job responded by saying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Job did not renounce his belief in God.
Seeing that his assaults on Job were not fruitful, the Adversary presented himself before God again.
The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason” (Job 2:3).
In his wisdom, God spoke the words that would provoke Satan, he foresaw what he would say and do. Satan responded as expected saying, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 2:4-5). God said, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life” (Job 2:6). Even at this time, God was acting in great love towards Job. Note that whenever the Adversary asked God to attack Job, God only gave permission but did not touch Job.
One of those days, Job woke up with painful sores all over his body: from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. He sat among the ashes and scraped his wounds to find some relief. His wife, the one person he expected sympathy from, suggested that he curse God and die. Job declined and remained faithful to God.
God’s love for Job was not apparent but he had only good intentions towards him. It is clear where the affliction was coming from and it shows us there is only one author of pain and misery—the Adversary. God did not touch Job, he did not cause him any pain. He allowed him to be afflicted, but only out of love.
Job’s experience moves us to ask a question: how does one reconcile so much suffering with God’s great love?
As human beings, we base the proof of love on motives or intentions and not actions alone. With God however, we tend to look at the “actions” or circumstances exclusively. Although we may not always know God’s intentions, we can be sure that they are consistently good. Not being able to figure out God’s motives should not mean he does not love us or has forsaken us.
Job on his part (as is often the case with us) was oblivious to what God was trying to achieve and as his pain got worse, he began to complain.
When Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar came to console him, what they saw astounded them. The sores on Job were so numerous that they could hardly recognize him. He was skeletal and his expression was that of one in deep grief. They pitied their friend and sat with him for a week without saying anything. Eventually, Job spoke and let out what was in his heart.
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