Summary: Epiphany 5: The evil one attempts to drive a wedge between the believer and God. But God, through the Cross and Resurrection, triumphs over all the wiles of the enemy.
By showing us what happened in the life of Job, God shares amazing insights that allow us to understand life just a little bit better. Having the book of Job is a little bit like having the playbook of the opposing team. We see the strategy of the enemy – satan – that old accuser. The playbook diagrams the attacks and the hoped for devastation in the life of the believer.
And so with playbook in hand, God prepares us for the struggles and trials. We are pointed time and again to God’s reassurance and presence. He’s there to help us persevere in the face of calamity. When fear comes because everything that can possibly go wrong, has - God brings us comfort.
Life can be rugged. No one is better qualified to make this observation than the fellow that spoke the words in today’s Old Testament Lesson - Job. Now here’s a person that went through the wringer. You see, Job had it all, and then, as the subject of a divine object lesson, he lost it all. Job was a man who was incredibly wealthy. He had been blessed with a large family and a position of honor among his countrymen. And he was also a godly man. He worshipped God with a sincere and humble heart. God Himself says of Job: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8b) The Lord and Job had a relationship characterized by intimacy.
Satan – the accuser – was out to change that. He runs one of his favorite plays from his evil playbook. He assails Job before God. He tells God that the only reason that Job loves Him is because of the many blessings that God has given to him. And so God permits satan to test Job – to take away his wealth, his children, his health. At the end of this Job is utterly devastated. And if the suffering that Job endured were not bad enough, three patronizing, self-important “friends” come circling around - supposedly to comfort him. And it is while all these dramatic events are whirling around him that Job speaks the words in our Old Testament lesson. Let’s read them together. [Read Job 7:1-7 here]
Wow! Can you tell that this man was in agony? The sheer desperation that Job felt is perhaps best expressed by the last verse: “Remember, my life is only a breath, and never again will my eyes see anything good.” Job was going through a crucible – a severe test of life and faith. Everything that most people consider important was gone – dead, stolen, or destroyed. Job’s grief was such that he even began to wonder out loud whether God was being fair to him. And this doubt about God was perhaps the most difficult part of his trial.
Did you notice the strategy that satan used to attack Job? First, the attack - he puts the believer through a trial. We saw the full bag of tricks come out against Job. He attacked the three F’s - family, finances and the flesh. Any one of those would be enough – but Job gets blasted with all three. After the attack comes an attempt to cause despair and hopelessness. To accomplish this, satan wanted Job to focus only on the trial - the unfairness of what he was suffering.
The net effect of the enemy’s actions is to try to separate us from God. His goal is to get believers – you and me, beloved - to lose our trust in God. When the trial comes, satan is there to make us think that God doesn’t care. He wants us to think that God is a fair weather friend – to doubt God’s love - to think that we’re on our own. Sound familiar? Does this sound like something that you’ve faced?
Listen, I’ve got good news for you. God doesn’t abandon us. If it seems that we are going through the struggles alone, it is because we haven’t learned to recognize God’s presence. When life is good, we’re so busy, so preoccupied, so engaged with so many things that we don’t have much room for God. And so when the trial comes, and we’re in agony – when we want to see God - even if He’s there – we haven’t a clue. We’re just not accustomed to recognizing his presence.
It takes intimacy with God to create the wellspring of faith. You see, even though Job’s pain and despair were indescribable, yet, the Scriptures say that: “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job’s suffering was so great that his wife told him to curse God so that he would die and be out of his misery. But Job replied: “ ‘Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ ” And so, “In all this,” say the Scriptures, “Job did not sin in what he said.” (Job 1:22, 2:10b)