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Text Illustrations
“Merely Mode!” Job 38:1-41 Key verse(s): 1ff:“Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm.”


When tragedies happen, do you marvel at their randomness? Seven people are gunned down in a church on a Saturday evening. A young boy of 15 and an old man of 74. The newspaper headline called it “carnage”. The headline ran broad and deep on the front page in a manner usually reserved for “EXTRA” news. As you put the paper down and reflect on the stark and stunning nature of the event, your mind begins to play with your senses. “You know, that could have been you standing there in that church, looking down the barrel of that pistol, in sight of the blank stare of a man with cold murder in his mind. “But for the mere fact that it happened there and not here and that it merely was another church and not mine, that could have been me! That could have been my wife, my child, my parent!” But for the mere fact that it happened in a city miles away and in a church not of your denomination is of little consequence when your mind goes into “merely mode”. It is difficult to escape the thought possessing lock of a brain tuned into the channel of chance. “It was merely an act of carnage that could have happened anywhere and your church is not exempt.”


“Merely mode.” It is not difficult for the mind to put us into a level of understanding and judgement that, in defiance of logic, is so pervasive that for the moment we are captured by its mystical power to hold and convince. That could have been me? Yes, it could have been me, you and billions of other people. You know the old saying, “There but for the grace of God go I!” It is not difficult to understand why our minds like to play “chance” with us from time to time. These little mind games reflect a predisposition we have in our culture to compete and take chances. Our culture is steeped in opportunities to step up and “try your luck.” It is a mindset that carries over from our competitive natures. In a morbid sort of way we play with the possibilities, taking mental wagers against the chances. Although it may be human nature that we think in these terms, it is dangerous to dwell in that nature. When we are predisposed to think it often, we may be compelled to live in it as well. Chance may be fun, but it has a way of overshadowing, even choking out a place for trust in our lives. When we dwell in the realm of “merely” it becomes more and more difficult to understand purpose and opportunity in the orderly realm of creation that God has placed around us. It compels us to think more of us and less of Him and that is a dangerous precedent in anyone’s life.


“There was a man who gave his business to God. He had hassled over it for years. He had wrestled with it and fought it for two decades. One day he decided, ‘I’ve had enough!’ He had heard from his pastor that Sunday morning about the value of turning his entire business over to God. It was when he drove away from church that he decided he had worried enough. By the time he got home, he had totally and unequivocally committed his business to God. That very night his place of business caught on fire. He got an emergency call. He rather calmly drove down to the commercial residence and was standing on the street, watching the place go up in flames. He was sort of smiling to himself. One of his colleagues raced to his side and questioned his relaxed attitude about what was happening. ‘Man! Don’t you know what’s happening to you? . . . It’s . . . burning up!’ He replied, ‘I know it. I know it. No problem, Fred. This morning I gave this company to God, and if He wants to burn it up, that’s His business’.” (Swidoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes, Pg. 240)


God spoke to Job out of a storm. He revealed to Job the tremendously detailed and complicated network of purpose that He had used to put together all of creation. Job had asked many questions; questions filled with “why’s” and “but for’s.” God did not answer Job’s questions at all. Rather, he directed his attention to the world around him and to the matter of trust. If he could not understand how all of this could be created and set into motion, guided and moved forward in purpose every second of every day, how could he understand any of God’s ways? God had no standard by which He created anything. There was no criterion upon which to base an understanding. God’s standards are His own, always purposeful and totally foreseeing. Everything that happens is interlocked and dependent upon that criterion. There are no accidents or “mere” happenings in God’s order of things. There are no loose ends or “but for’s”. Nothing is “mere” in God’s world as if it were a by-product of something else. All things happen for a purpose in God’s scheme of things, even murders in a church. When we understand this, it becomes easier to focus on Him, placing all things in His hands. In that way nothing that happens is without purpose. God is sovereign over all things, even those things that seem of a random nature. That is why our mode of thought ought always to be anchored in trust, not chance.

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