Summary: Survive Life’s Challenges 1) Consider Satan’s Goal 2) Consider God’s Control
If you want to become a good hockey player, you’ll want to spend time watching elite players like Sydney Crosby. If you want to become a great artist, you’ll want to study the works of Van Goh and Rembrandt. Where should you turn though if you want to figure out how best to survive life’s challenges? You could pick up a book about a holocaust survivor or someone who lived through the Great Depression, but we have a better resource than that. We have the Bible. This book not only tells us how to survive life’s challenges, it helps us make some sense of the suffering that we may have to endure. In the pages of Scripture there is perhaps no greater survivor than Job. As we take a look at his life this morning we’ll learn how to survive life’s challenges as we consider Satan’s goal, and as we consider God’s control.
We’re not really sure when Job lived though it may have been about the same time as Abraham, 4,000 years ago. Job seemed to make his home on the southeast border of what is today Israel. We do know that he was a believer in the one true God. He was also rich and well respected. Everything Job touched seemed to turn to gold. Job’s family life was good too. His ten adult children enjoyed spending time together and were a source of pride for their father.
That all changed, however, when Satan came into God’s presence one day. We don’t know why God allowed this or why God would initiate a conversation with this fallen angel, but he did. After hearing Satan say that he had come from roaming the earth God said to him: “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 1:8). Note well that it was NOT Satan who brought up Job as a conversation piece; God did! God sounds like a proud general who says to the commander of the opposing army: “Have you seen the fort we’ve built on our border? Pretty impressive eh?”
If God was trying to get a rise out of Satan, he succeeded. In fact the question was probably designed for that very reason so that we would get a glimpse of what Satan is really all about. When Satan made his debut on the pages of Scripture, he acted like a friend and confidant to Adam and Eve when he suggested that eating the forbidden fruit would give them greater happiness, not bring death and sorrow. But here in Job’s case there is no pretense. Satan clearly cared nothing for Job. Listen to what he said. “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (Job 1:9-11).
Friends, if Satan and God were to have a conversation about you, how would that conversation play out? Who would talk about you like a proud father? Not Satan. His goal is to demean and dehumanize you. Satan hates that you are God’s crown of creation. Think of that next time he comes calling and tempts you to do something you know to be wrong. Why listen to him? He may act like your friend, but he’s not. His goal is to destroy your relationship with God because he knows that this will extinguish your chance for eternal happiness, as surely as a puff of air will extinguish a burning candle.
But would God really speak about you the way he spoke about Job? Would he brag about your goodness and how you always turn away from evil? You know God would be lying if he said that about you…or would he? You see this is the amazing truth which only the Bible offers. When God looks at you, he sees his Son Jesus about whom he said: “This is my Son whom I love. With him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We’re certain God sees us this way because the Apostle Paul said that in baptism we have been clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27). All your sins are hidden by Jesus, and all of his goodness is what God sees when he looks at you. That’s why God accepts you as a favored child.
It’s this relationship, however, that Satan wants to destroy, and what chance do we have against him? Well, listen to how the conversation between God and Satan continued. God said to the Devil, “Very well, then, everything [Job] has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger” (Job 1:12). How can we survive life’s challenges when we have a powerful enemy in the person of Satan? We can survive because we have an even more powerful friend in God who sets clear boundaries that Satan cannot cross.