Wednesday, September 10, 2014

When Patience Has Run It's Course

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
“Now my life is almost gone, and soon I will die.  Days of suffering have grabbed me.   All my bones ache at night.  Pain never stops chewing on me.  God grabbed the collar of my coat and twisted my clothes out of shape.  He threw me into the mud, and I became like dust and ashes.  “God, I cry out to you for help, but you don’t answer.  I stand up and pray, but you don’t pay attention to me.  You have become cruel to me; you use your power to hurt me.  You let the strong wind blow me away.  You throw me around in the storm.  I know you will lead me to my death, to that place where all the living must go.  “Surely no one would attack a man who is already ruined, when he is hurt and crying for help.  God, you know that I cried for those who were in trouble.  You know that I mourned for the poor.  But when I hoped for good, trouble came instead.  When I looked for light, darkness came.  I constantly feel upset.  And my suffering has only just begun.  I am always sad and depressed, without any relief.  I stand up in the public meeting and cry for help, making sad sounds like the wild dogs, like the ostriches in the desert.  My skin is burned and peeling away.  My body is hot with fever.  My harp is tuned to play songs of sorrow.  My flute makes sad sounds like someone crying.
Job 30:16-31 (ERV) © 2006 by World Bible Translation Center
I thought I was done with Job for a while; then Mrs. Osteen got everyone’s attention.
If you recall, Victoria Osteen, wife of Joel Osteen, the famous and quite controversial pastor of Lakewood Church, was the subject of many a Facebook post. 
The duo has very little theological training, but they do have nice teeth and more than a feel-good message; actually it’s a feel GREAT message.  It has been characterized as something like:  believe in God and everything will go your way – you will be prosperous, healthy and life will get really easy as you move into the blessing of God.
Criticism of the Osteen’s doctrinal shallowness stems from the fact that it is a cut-and-paste approach to Scripture, cutting-out anything that includes admitting life just might be hard, even if you’re in the center of God’s will.
Which brings us to Job.
If anyone in history (and Job goes back to before most recorded history)…if anyone was ever smack dab in the middle of God’s will, it was Job. 
At least God thought so (even if Joel doesn’t).  Listen to God debating Lucifer:
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him.  He is a good, faithful man.  He respects God and refuses to do evil.”[1]
…a good, faithful man – that’s what God called him – respectful of God’s will…and suffering like nobody’s business…heath shot, wealth gone, and reputation slandered with no relief in sight.  Not exactly a poster child for Victoria and Joel’s prosperity gospel!

But there is a Genuine Gospel

I have no subtle message or funny story to illustrate this day’s devotion; only a sober reminder that life can be hard, and can grind you into Job’s corner.  You can cry out to God and the heavens will seem silent.  You can sit wailing and waiting and, like Job, all you hear is the sound of your flesh rotting.   
And the simple truth of the genuine Gospel is that Jesus died for you, and faith in Him declares that all will ultimately be settled justly in God’s hands.  Job said that:
“When I was born into this world, I was naked and had nothing.  When I die and leave this world, I will be naked and have nothing.   The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.  Praise the name of the Lord!” [2]
For You, Today
You may be sitting in Job’s corner.  Don’t confuse that with God being angry at you. 
He’s not!
There was a cross raised on a hill outside Jerusalem to prove that!

[1] Job 1:8 (ERV) © 2006 by World Bible Translation Center
[2] Job 1:21 (ERV) © 2006 by World Bible Translation Center

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