Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Curse God and Die

“7So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.8And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”10But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” [fn1] In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Job 2:7-10

One the hardest times in the life of a human being is the death of someone close. Whether it is the loss of a best friend or cousin, brother or sister, father or mother, or child as in the case of Job, it is a heart wrenching ordeal. Daily I see the ravages of a death and the sorrow that follows it in the news. Recently I read a report by CNN that spoke of a young man about 17 years of age walking home in the early evening as he was instructed by his father. Just down the street from his house he was approached by gang members and then for no apparent reason- fatally shot. Upon hearing the gun blasts the father immediately phoned his son to warn him to stay away from the house for the time being. When the son did not answer the father knew something was not right and immediately set out to find him. What pain and agony the father felt as he distinctly recalled the promise that he made to his son "I guaranteed 'Jas.' That's why it hurts so much -- because I told him, 'I promise you, if you sacrifice these years, I'll sacrifice with you.'" Oh the heartbreak for someone to endure. What an excruciating ordeal for this father and mother to lose their son. It cuts up the innermost part of us all as the loss of a loved one can be most destructive to the soul. Yet in all this, there is hope.

For the wife of Job, her loss was exponential. Not one of her 10 children survived that dreadful day. She mourned seven sons and three daughters who held her heart as children always do. And shortly after she loses the blessings that God had given to her, her husband is stricken with boils. It is at this point that she begins staring at the possibility of maybe even losing her husband. Perhaps caught up in the frustration of losing the last person that she had, at her verge of collapse she blurts out of her misery, “Curse God and die!”

Job however, neither gratifies her request nor does he scold her for it. He simply discerns her reaction and tells her how she is behaving. He follows it up with an all-embracing view of the sovereignty of the Lord- “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” He neither denies God’s mercy to man nor does he strip God of it. Job knew that God was in control of all things and that all of his life was in the Lord’s hands. Job’s response is a response of contentment in the Lord- though undoubtedly filled with pain. Nevertheless, the Lord shows us that, “in all this, Job did not sin with his lips.”

Oh what glory that God received when we read of Job’s loss and later gain. The Westminster Confession declares that the “Chief end of man is to glorify God.” Job did not sin with his lips, but what about his wife? She often gets caught up in the story, coming in and out at opportune times. We rarely consider that what became her trial initially had little to do with her and more to do with Job. It was Job who was to be accosted by Satan, not his wife (maybe because the Lord knew she would curse him). Maybe, just maybe, the Lord wanted to provide a resounding instruction for her as well. I would lean to that mode of thought because in the end, the Bible says that Job had seven more sons and three more daughters (the prettiest in the land). It never says that he divorced his wife, that she died and he remarried, or that he had any other wives or concubines. She had benefited fully being hand in hand with Job. The wife of Job who bore him his first seven sons and three daughters in the end bore him seven more sons and three more daughters. The woman who lost almost all that she had gained more. No the latter ten do not take away the burden of sorrow for the loss of the first ten, but she was blessed- again. The Lord could have simply taken her life when she spoke as the ungodly did. But he refrained. Though she suffered and did not handle the pain as well as Job did, God had compassion for her. Who knows what conversations they could have had that the Lord in His wisdom decided not to share with us. Whatever the case, I do believe that she did learn more of God- just as Job did.

So where does that leave us today? Well firstly, we must remember that God is sovereign over all creation. He is omniscience and omnipotent and that He is God all by Himself. Whatever trials come our way will always be unexpected for us, but not for God. He establishes every hardship that we go through. Still, we must learn and have the fortitude of Job, “though He slays me, yet will I trust Him!” We do not know how our trials and tribulations will come, but we know that they will come. Like the father who lost his son, he rested and reassured himself in the resurrection of Christ. He knows that his son was a believer and his joy is upheld by the power of Christ. When we suffer loss, we must remember the glorious truth of Christ- “…I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:25-26

Pains will come and go. So will life. Though we suffer, either by personal loss, sickness or by persecution, we will reap if we do not faint or give up hope. We must remember that God is a righteous and just King. That He is the sovereign Lord over the entire universe. And we must remember- “Yet in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus.” And, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:35-39

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