Receiving Bad From God

It’s easy to praise God on good days, isn’t it? When things are stable vocationally, relationally, financially, and physically, our worship of God is pretty natural.

What about on difficult days though?

What about on the days when one thing after another seems to be falling apart in your life?

On those days, it doesn’t come nearly as natural to us to open up our mouths and hearts in praise to our Heavenly Father.

Yet, this is exactly what Job did in Job 1. He faced the most excruciatingly difficult day of his life, and he was able to praise God regardless.

The second chapter of Job takes us back to the throne room of God. The angels are again presenting themself before His splendor and majesty (v. 1), and Satan again comes into the room. God is quick to bring up Job again, showing Satan that Job’s integrity and righteousness remained intact (v. 3), despite the tremendous suffering that was thrust upon him.

Satan is prepared for this, and he quickly responds.

“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” – Job 2:4-5 

Satan’s point is clear. Job’s family and finances were destroyed, sure. But his body was still intact. Satan’s argument is that if God would affect Job’s physical body, Job would respond in anger and cursing.

Let’s read together what happens next.

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”  – Job 2:6-8

I want you to see this first. Our good, glorious, gracious, and generous God allows this next test to be played out, just like He allowed the first. Beware any prosperity gospel that promises an easy life as a follower of Jesus. There is no such thing. It is a good life, absolutely, but it is not one devoid of suffering. Job’s life makes this abundantly clear to us.

Satan leaves the throne room of God and immediately goes after Job. Job is afflicted with a skin disease that isn’t exactly clear to us as the reader. It sounds like some sort of leprosy. Regardless of what it was, we see that Job is full of painful sores that go from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. There is no relief to be found anywhere.

Then Job’s wife enters the picture.

Now, I personally am blessed with a wonderful wife. When I face difficulties in my life, she is quick to encourage me and share wisdom with me. She’s done so in a couple instances just this week.

Job however had a less than great wife in this circumstance.

It’s interesting to note that there are some who actually believe that the wife was more or less on Satan’s team in this story, being used by him to encourage Job to fall into sin.

I personally don’t see her as a willing participant in the schemes of Satan. That’s a little extreme.

That being said, her faith is not grand. In the throes of pain (all this suffering surely affected her too, right?) she encourages Job to simply curse God in such a way that would cause God to strike him down in justice.

What happens next is another one of the most powerful sections of Scripture (well writing that sounded like a clickbait Facebook article. “We adopted a goldfish, what happened next will stun and amaze you!”).

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. – Job 2:9-10

Notice that Job doesn’t call her wicked, nor does he say that she is in fact foolish. Rather, he says that she is simply talking like someone who is a fool.

I’m not really sure what happens to Job’s wife after this, not gonna lie. She doesn’t ever show up again in the book, even after Job’s life is restored (chapter 42). He has more children, so maybe that’s proof she sticks around? I’m not sure. Consult someone smarter than me.

Let’s focus in on the second part of his statement though.

Dang.

That’s some A-level faith. We willingly accept good from God, we should be just as willing to accept evil (side-note. I was reading a commentary that mentioned that the Hebrew word here means ‘bad’. Don’t think that God is capable of doing something wicked or sinful).

“. . . for when the bad as well as the good is received at the hand of God, every experience of life becomes an occasion of blessing. But the cost is high. It is easier to lower your view of God than to raise your faith to such a height.” – Francis Andersen

Job’s faith is powerful, as is this quote.

Again, remember, Job is going to wrestle with God throughout this entire book. Yet, his faith here at the onset is secure. He doesn’t get it. He can’t fathom why this has happened to him. Yet he knows that it is from the Lord.

Again, the prosperity preachers and their thirty second clips getting shared on Facebook will tell you you’re an overcomer, a champion, a conqueror. They’ll tell you that you can overcome sickness if only your faith is strong enough. You can be blessed financially and spiritually and relationally and vocationally if you just have enough faith.

They must have cut this book out of their Bibles.

Job teaches us something powerful.

Following God is not about the level of your faith.

It’s about what your faith is in.

I’ll say that again. Following God is not about the level of your faith. It’s about what your faith is in.

Job is going to incessantly wrestle with God, but his faith is in God. That won’t waver.

The text goes so far as to say that Job didn’t sin in what he has said.

He hasn’t sinned, yet the affliction will remain for dozens of more chapters.

As followers of Jesus, we must have the faith to receive the bad as well as the good.

Job models that for us well.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

The Light Of Jesus

Light.

Darkness.

Black.

White.

Truth.

Falsehood.

The days of clearly defined morality and truth in our culture seems to be utterly long gone now. There is no longer right or wrong, there is simply opinion and speculation. There is a grayness to just about every subject under the sun these days. This has become part of our world around us, and it has made its way into the church.

As a youth pastor, I see my students growing up in a world that is distinctly different from the one that I grew up in. I grew up with an innate sense of what is right and wrong, of what is Scriptural. My students are growing up in a culture and world where the Bible no longer has any weight in public spheres and philosophical conversations of this nature. I see them every Sunday struggle with the definitive truth of Scripture and how accepting this definitive truth would make them ostracized and bigots in the eyes of their peers. I feel it. I know they feel it too.

Now I am not saying woe is me I’m persecuted for my stance on Scripture and truth. By no means. I am simply saying that I am willing to accept the label of being ‘old-fashioned’ and maybe even foolish in the eyes of some for putting all my eggs in the inerrancy and reliability of Scripture basket. And for my students it’s far worse, far more difficult.

We have concocted a world where truth is defined by the individual, whereas the Bible makes it clear that God defines what is true, not our feelings or opinions or biases or perceptions.

Please hear my heart. The inability to see my heart is one of my least favorite aspects of blogging. With just words on a page I can appear to be saying or implying things I’m not. My heart is that I wholeheartedly acknowledge my own biases and assumptions and positions that I bring into Scripture. I am not arrogant enough to believe that my opinion on all matters is wholly in line with God, but I will humbly stand on the belief that the Scriptures drive my beliefs and I will not back down from them.

I am trying not to write a 4000 word intro, so let me get to my point.

In John 8, the Bible makes it explicitly clear that Jesus is the answer, that Jesus is the Light in the midst of moral darkness, that Jesus is the direction we all need. He is our light.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life. – John 8:12

You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me. – John 8:15-16

I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world. – John 8:26

There is a whole lot more at work in this passage, but I want to address some things out of these particular verses. Essentially Jesus makes this proclamation that He is the Light and the direction in the darkness. The Pharisees question his claim because their law said their must be two witnesses to prove anything, and Jesus comes back by saying the Father testifies alongside Him, affirming His claim to be the Light. Lastly, Jesus responds to even more questions that they have by stating that His Father is true, and that He simply proclaims that which His Father says to Him.

Now let me be clear that the Bible is not my God.

That being said, I believe that God (Jesus. Man the trinity is confusing.) speaks to us through His Word. All of it, not just the red words. The Bible is all about Him. The entirety of Scripture conveys his heart, not just the sermon on the mount through Revelation. Obviously the gospels give us a clarified and condensed view of Him, but all of Scripture points to him.

We in the church have followed the maxim, “God says it, I believe it, that settles it.”

But that is such an incredibly wrong maxim to follow. That makes truth built upon our feelings and beliefs. So for instance if I am struggling with greed, I can start to nuance Scripture so that it doesn’t explicitly say that greed is sin, I can start to cave to the American Dream which practically says that greed is a win in business and in life. I can listen to theologians who say that whatever dude wrote the parts of Scripture that call greed sin was just saturating the text with his own opinions. I can let my feelings lead me into disbelief. So God might say it in Scripture, but because I don’t believe that, I don’t live it out.

In my humble opinion, that is what’s wrong with our churches today. We have stripped the Bible of its inerrancy, and replaced it with a Bible that is like a choose your own adventure book where you the reader determine what is true.

In my humble opinion, where does that road end?

If you follow things out to their logical conclusion, eventually we will make the very words of God spoken to us nothing more than suggestions.

It reminds me of that scene in Pirates of The Caribbean where Elizabeth Swan is taken captive despite evoking the rights of the pirate code, to which Barbossa responds “they are more like guidelines”. Now I know the Bible isn’t a pirate code, and maybe that doesn’t make any sense. But either the Bible is authoritative or it’s not.

I’m digressing.

We should be those who follow the maxim that if God says it, that settles it. What God says is true regardless of my feelings or what I believe.

In the midst of darkness, I point my students to the light of Jesus on display in His Word.

We live in the realm of darkness, but we can trust in the light of Christ.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

Us vs. Them

My bedroom here in Phoenix is adjacent to a relatively quiet street. Yet every late evening and early morning, cars come flying down it with their engines revving and their music blaring. I’ve tried every single trick imaginable to drown out the noise but alas I’m almost always woken up by it. In these moments of frustration I always have thoughts run through my head of how much better life would be for me if they weren’t around, if these humans that enjoy loud and fast cars in the wee hours of the night just went somewhere else.

This is a small example of how often my mind has an us vs. them mentality. Too often we have feelings of fear towards others or we perceive others to be but a burden on our life or society. Search your own hearts. Are there individuals, people groups, religious groups, families, or other various groups of people that you see in such a light? Maybe it’s a co-worker. Maybe it’s those involved in criminal activity. Maybe it’s people who have differing political views than you do. Maybe it’s the ‘burden’ of financially and physically caring for the elderly or your own children (this is seen on a societal scale but maybe not personally).

phx
This city is full of people that aren’t like me. 

We are sinful. We struggle to see ourselves as Christ sees us. We also struggle to see others as Christ sees them.

 

I overthink. One thing I overthink is God’s calling on my life. In that I mean I overthink what God may be calling me to do. Yes I believe it is Biblical to wrestle with what God may be calling you into in the future. Yes I believe it is Biblical to try and discern what God may be calling you to do as a next step. Yet God’s calling on our lives while we wait for the return of the King of Kings is pretty simple. It is to love God and love our neighbor. Right now. Where you reside. This can happen via a lot of different routes or specific callings that you may have. But all we do should come out of our love for God and our desire to love our neighbors.

We are called to love God and love neighbor. Jesus Himself made this abundantly clear.

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39

Loving God can be pretty easy sometimes when I meditate and consider all that He has so graciously and mercifully lavished on me in my day-to-day life. Loving my neighbor isn’t nearly as easy. My neighbors aren’t like me. As I write this at my kitchen table I am acutely aware of the religious, financial, ethnic, and lifestyle differences between me and my immediate neighbors. Christ has showered love onto my life, and I in turn should be a conduit of His love to my neighbors.

Every good and perfect thing that I have in my life is from above (James 1:17). God is not served by human hands and He doesn’t need anything from me (Acts 17:24-25). He is enthroned on high, being praised forever by the multitude of saints who have gone before, and the great celestial beings. Yes His mercies should result in a desire to worship, but He doesn’t need me to. He is not any less than Himself in the absence of my praise. Those blessings He invests into me each day should go somewhere, and they go horizontally to those in need around me, to my neighbors.

I’ll let Michael Horton bring us home:

In Christ our perspective on other people is transformed. We no longer see people as barriers to our happiness or as people to be feared. Through the lens of the gospel we see them as our neighbors, as part of a mutual exchange of gift giving, and not as threats to our well being. 

I pray today that God would continue to convict me in the times where I have an us vs. them mentality. I pray that God would give me an us for them mentality. I pray that I would joyfully labor daily for the good of my neighbor, whoever that may be, in light of the mercies of Christ and the way that God sees my neighbor.

As followers of Christ, it’s not about us vs. them.

It’s about us for them.

Go in peace.

–  Nate Roach

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