It’s never pretty when the Lord reveals to my heart the ways that I have been sinning against Him. Sometimes it comes through the Word, other times through the words of a friend, and occasionally via my own conscience in the aftermath of sinful thoughts, words, and deeds.
A couple weeks ago, I was on my way back from an orthodontist appointment in Dallas when a friend called me. We chatted about life for a while, and then he lovingly confronted me, revealed to me actions of mine that weren’t in line with Christ. A light was shone on my selfishness and distrust, and I didn’t like what I saw. My flesh burned within me, and my every desire was to lash out, to claim that I was being wrongly accused, to try and cover up the realities of my sinfulness. But instead, by God’s grace, I listened. I wrestled with the confrontation.
God used the words of a friend to ‘discipline’ me, to reveal to me that I was walking out of step with the way of Christ.
In Job chapter five, Eliphaz is continuing to speak to Job about his suffering. Despite the fact that not everything he says is solid, we can glean some truths from the words that he speaks.
Let’s look at it together.
This Life Is Troublesome
For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. – Job 5:6-7
Can I get an amen?
We are all in tune with the fact that this life is not a walk in the park. It’s troublesome, difficult, hard. As followers of Jesus, we know that it is going to be even harder for us as we walk against the grain of this modern culture.
There are popular pastors these days who claim that following Jesus with enough faith leads to prosperity. They claim that if you’re in the midst of storms or giants you can overcome them through a stronger faith. They claim that the road of blessing is the road of being called by God.
This is not only experientially false, it’s also straight-up Biblically false.
Recently I’ve been studying the book of 1 Samuel. At my church we will be taking our students and kids through it. We see in the book of 1 Samuel that David is chosen by God, and yet he spends the majority of the latter half of the book on the run from Saul, who is striving to kill him.
Being called by God leads to suffering and difficulty.
Eliphaz gets this right. There is no rosy world free of hard times.
God Disciplines His Children
Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal. – Job 5:17-18
Eliphaz hits some truth here in this proclamation to Job. The imagery of God wounding and shattering is not necessarily accurate, but he gets that first part right.
The blessed man is the man who is disciplined by God.
Do you believe that?
Do you believe that you are blessed when God disciplines or corrects you? This used to make me so upset. I remember being a teenager or college student, facing the aftermath of sinful decisions, seeing the painful and exposed parts of my heart with clarity, all while hating that I was being disciplined by God.
It didn’t seem fair or right.
As a young man, I see now that God doesn’t lead with discipline. We have His Word. We know what’s right and wrong. We know how to walk in step with Christ. But for many of us, we don’t. At least in different aspects of our lives. So the Lord brings difficulty to reveal our dependence upon idols, and then to restore us, often painfully, into dedication to Him.
Consider the following verse out of the book of Hebrews.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:11
We don’t like discipline.
But it yields righteousness if we’re willing to listen.
If I were to buck up against what my friend was saying, which I was tempted to do, I would not have grown in my faith, in my faithfulness to Christ.
I had to be willing to receive correction.
God Does Unseen, Marvelous Things
(God) who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number: – Job 5:9
Eliphaz reminds Job that God does unsearchable and marvelous things without number.
That’s what we have to remember as followers of Jesus here in 2019.
I just reminded us that life is hard.
But life is also beautiful in that God is doing innumerable things that would blow our minds if we were to see it all.
In your life, today, God is at work.
Do you believe that?
You may not see it, you may not feel like it’s true, but according to the entire corpus of Scripture, we know it is.
God is at work.
I have a journal where I record ways that God shows His faithfulness to me. I could sit down with you for hours and hours and tell you all that He’s done this very year, and that’s just what I’ve been able to see. He’s done immeasurably more I’m sure.
When you bring all of these points from chapter five together, you get the following.
GOD USES THE DIFFICULTIES OF THIS WORLD TO CORRECT US AND TO OPEN OUR EYES TO HIS FAITHFULNESS
I’ll say it again.
God is at work.
If you believe that, then I encourage you to respond to the correction of God’s Word or a trusted friend with the humility to ask God what unseen wonders He’s wanting to open your eyes to.
I ended my conversation with my friend that day with “I want to be mad at you, but I know you’re right.”
Honestly, that’s a pretty good prayer to pray.
In His Name,