When LIfe Abruptly Changes
April 29, 2019
The Bible presents some exceptionally difficult points to consider about our human nature. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church and asked the question, “What makes us differ from one another?” The Apostle Peter explained in the Book of Acts that God is not a respecter of persons. When Paul wrote to the church in Rome, one of his chief points that proved the just shall live by faith, is the fact that all people are sinners that fall short of the glory of God and are worthy of condemnation. When we put all these ideas together, what is the Bible teaching? The scriptures clearly show that as people, we deserve far worse than we get, and also that all of us are one simply moment away from being the very types of people that we despise. If there is nothing that makes us differ from one another, what should keep God from separating us from poverty and suffering? If God is not a respecter of persons, what should keep God from taking away certain comforts we enjoy today? If we are all sinners that fall short of the glory of God, what should keep God from removing the merciful hedge of protection that keeps us from the full consequences of our wickedness?
The point is, God is not obligated to treat us with any particular measure of favor. God is not obligated to provide any certain level of comfort. While God provides increase, influence, and opportunities to indulge, He can take those opportunities away at any time, from anyone, and would be right to do so. Thus, the comforts we might enjoy today might be taken away tomorrow in a variety of ways, and nothing is keeping God from doing so. This is the brutal reality that Job learned through the course of his suffering. In Job 30:1-19 Job reflected about the severe shift in his living circumstances, and recognized that God was the cause. Job previously reflected upon the good days that God provided in which Job’s prosperity was used for fruitful ministry that glorified the Lord. The testimony of Job 30:1-19 begins with the phrase, “But now,” to express an intense contrast. Job had grown accustomed to living one way, and because that way was glorifying to God, figured his days would be that way forever, and the routine of his life would remain constant. He was wrong, and Job’s assumptions about that didn’t change anything about God. God was still right.
Recall that the Bible testified that God saw Job as a blameless and upright man. Job had faith in the Lord according to the revelations of truth he received from the Lord. God was pleased with Job so that even the devil recognized the exceptional favor God was giving him. When Job recalled the days of his prosperity, he spoke of how he valued the intimate relationship he enjoyed with the Lord through his circumstances. Job didn’t just love the things that he had and the comforts he enjoyed. He enjoyed being closely connected to God, having open communication and communion with Him, being able to leverage that relationship for the spiritual benefit of others. Job was well respected and honored as a result. His testimony spoke for itself. People had nothing bad to say against Job because of all of the good he was doing for the glory of the Lord. Yet all of that changed, and Job didn’t do anything specific to cause that change. God flipped Job’s life upside down simply because He has the sovereign ability to do so. Job would still bring glory to God, but in a manner that was totally contrary to Job’s previous manner of living.
Job explained that all the respect he had before, was gone. Job was such a pitiful creature at the time, that children of the vilest people mocked Job and were used to intensify Job’s suffering. Job explained that the base people of his community would come out to mock him, talk trash, ridicule, and laugh at him. Job described the people that despised him. These people were such that weren’t worthy to dwell with the dogs that looked after his flocks in times past. Not that Job would have treated people in such a manner before, but the description shows how miserable these people were. Job explained that these people were useless as workers. Though they were poor, they did not desire to work, did not desire to learn skills to become useful to earn their keep, and were content to remain hungry and destitute. These were the people that mocked Job. Job explained that those who despised him were people who were so miserable, that they were shunned from society, and removed from their community. These were people that were in awful conditions, but refused help that was offered to them, preferring to steal, corrupt, and destroy by their manner of living. These were the people that mocked Job. The Bible testifies that these people sang songs about Job, rejoicing in his pain and suffering. These people didn’t profit at all from Job’s misery, but were entertained by Job’s calamity either way. They verbally abused Job. They physically tormented and shamed Job. Not only did these wicked people intensify Job’s suffering, but also their young children, making the issue much more difficult to deal with.
Why did these things happen? What changed in Job’s life that caused God to allow these things? Why would God allow someone He described as “blameless and upright” to suffer at the hands of such people? If Job was innocent of the hypocrisy his friends accused of, why was God letting Job suffer such abuse on top of the frustrations of his friends, the physical pain of his sores and boils, the emotional anguish of losing his family, and the mental strain of losing his riches? How bad will God let things get?
The testimony of Job 30:1-19 shows that Job recognized why these things were taking place. He confessed that God had loosed his affluence. The scriptures teach that God can give, and then He can take away. The testimony of Job shows just how abrupt, sudden, and dramatic that change can be. God doesn’t need reason to change circumstances. Our daily sin gives Him reason to afflict pain in our lives at any moment. When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about how nothing makes us differ from one another, this is what he wrote next:
“For who makes you differ [from another]? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive [it], why do you boast as if you had not received [it]?”
If everything we have has been received from God, then our possessions, our comforts, and our circumstances are all the possession of the Lord. We are merely stewards of His possessions and causes. Who are we then to judge God when He takes back that which was His? What did we do to please Him or earn favor to begin with? What did Job do to earn the favor he had before? Was Job’s heart better than everyone else’s absent sin and corruption, warranting God’s favor through prosperity? If Job didn’t deserve the prosperity he had before, why should he despise God when the prosperity was removed? This is why Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.”
It is true that Job’s circumstances of life turned for the worse to such a degree that it was startling to everyone around him. Job suffered insult on top of injury, and God was right to allow these things to take place. The question everyone asks is, why did God do it? If Job’s life was glorifying to God before, why did God change the circumstances that effected His glory? The answer is simple. God was still glorifying Himself, but in a greater way! Some might ask how Job’s circumstances of suffering glorified God in a manner that was greater than the days of his prosperity. How could Job bring more glory to God if he was so restricted from serving the needs of others, walking according to a faithful and honorable testimony?
Consider the scriptures as they relate to the prophesies of the Messiah:
“But I [am] a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, [saying], ‘He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!’” – Psalm 22:6-8
“Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother's children; because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. – Psalm 69:7-9
“Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One, to Him whom man despises, to Him whom the nation abhors, to the Servant of rulers: ‘Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel; and He has chosen You.’” – Isaiah 49:7
“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, [our] faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. – Isaiah 53:2-3
The scriptures show that God had appointed His Messiah – Jesus Christ – to suffer FAR WORSE rejection and mocking than Job. God took the form of flesh and subjected Himself to the reproaches of evil people. God took the form of flesh and subjected Himself to mocking, ridicule, head-shaking, shame, despise, hate, rejection, sorrow and grief for the sake of our salvation. Thus, the reproach of Job brought glory in that his suffering was parallel to the suffering of Jesus Himself. Job’s life served to be like a prophetic picture for God’s work of salvation. Though Job suffered and was despised and shamed, he was later restored and his former glory replenished, proving that God is able to bring sweetness out of the bitterness of suffering. The ultimate fulfillment of this power was demonstrated as Jesus endured the cross as a result of our rejection of Him, but unto the glory of His resurrection.
Nothing is keeping God from reversing our fortunes, flipping our circumstances, or stripping us of comforts other than His mercy and grace. The Bible teaches that God can remove all of the affections from our lives and still be merciful and gracious. Job’s attitude was obviously a far cry from Jesus’ attitude through their parallel suffering, but Job’s faith didn’t waver. This is important to remember. Who are we to think that God could keep us in a certain quality of comfort and prosperity? Who are we to think that God should keep our circumstances constant according to our pleasure? God’s purposes are far greater than our personal affections and fears. For this reason, it is important to fear the sovereign Lord who has charge of all things to this degree, recognizing that He is right and good no matter how He might treat us in this life. When our lives prosper so that we can glorify Him through our prosperity, praise God. When our lives are the subject of mocking and filled with sorrow and grief, remember that God subjected Himself to far worse in order to offer forgiveness of sins. Praise God still…