Job 23:1-7 ESV
“Then Job answered and said:
“Today also my complaint is bitter;
my hand is heavy on account of my groaning.
Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
that I might come even to his seat!
I would lay my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would know what he would answer me
and understand what he would say to me.
Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?
No; he would pay attention to me.
There an upright man could argue with him,
and I would be acquitted forever by my judge.”
Trials can be so great, at times, that we may feel as though God is not there. We can’t feel him like we have in the past and he seems silent as we are pouring out our requests to him. If we are his, and if we are following him with our lives, he is not missing, and he is not ignoring us, even though it may feel that way. But it can be very disconcerting when we are faced with such difficulties and then we don’t sense the presence of the Lord.
And this is why we must walk by faith and not by our feelings. For when we are sick and afflicted, and we are going through serious trials, our feelings are going to fluctuate. Our emotions will be more tender. We will cry more easily. Nothing will feel normal. And this is when Satan will come against us more fiercely, for he likes to attack us when we are down and when we are weak and when we are more vulnerable.
And this is when we need to be fully armored up with the armor of God so that we can fight off Satan’s attacks against us. For he will try to convince us that God is not there and that he is not listening or that we must have done something wrong, and so he is being distant from us. Now, we should examine our own hearts at this time to make sure if we are following the Lord or not, but we should not let Satan taunt us.
I like the way Job counseled himself in this situation, and we need to do something similar to that. For, again, when we are going through tough times our emotions may get the best of us and Satan will lie to us, too. So that is when we need to answer our own doubts and questions with the truth of what we know about God. We need to use that sword of the Spirit to fight off Satan’s lies and to claim and affirm what we know to be the truth.
Job began this conversation feeling a disconnect with God but then he counseled himself into rational thinking, and he contended with his own doubts and fears by reminding himself of what he knew of God and of his character. And his conclusion was based on truth and not on feelings, for it was his conclusion that God would not contend with him but that he would pay attention to him and that God would acquit him.
Job 23:8-14 ESV
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
and backward, but I do not perceive him;
on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does.
For he will complete what he appoints for me,
and many such things are in his mind.”
But then he seemed to go back to expressing his feelings that he had expressed before, questioning the same things, feeling again as though he could not perceive the Lord, as though his presence was not there. He could not find him. He could not envision him. And again, this was based on his feelings which were fluctuating because of the severity of his suffering.
I don’t know if you have ever been really sick before, especially if you have had a fever and a headache and you are vomiting profusely. It is very hard to think straight during these times. It is very hard to have clear thoughts. And of course, Satan takes advantage of these times and he attacks our minds and our emotions and he tries to get us to doubt God.
I have had times like that when all I could do was cry out to God and just pray, “Help!” We must not let these times weaken us in our faith. We must recognize our weakness and our vulnerability and pray for help and for strength and for wisdom and discernment and not let the devil get a foot-hold in our lives. And again, we must fight off Satan’s lies with the truth.
And that is what Job did. He worked through his emotions and he came to rational thought and he acknowledged again the truth about God and who he is and what he will do, and so he rested in that knowledge. Job knew that he was not sinning against God, though Satan and his friends were trying to convince him that he was. I have been there before, too. But Job stood his ground. He knew he was righteous before God, so he did not waver.
He acknowledged that God knew the truth, that God knew his heart and that he knew the way that Job walked and lived. And Job understood and he acknowledged that God was trying him, and he was confident that, by the grace of God, that when the trial was over that he would come out as gold.
[Now God ended up confronting Job about his pride through this trial, but Job repented and he did come out as gold and God acknowledged Job as a righteous man (Job 38-42).]
But Job was confident in his walk with the Lord, and his confidence was not unfounded, and so he defended himself, much as did Paul when he was being falsely accused of wrongdoing. It is not prideful to be confident of our walks with the Lord but we must be careful that we don’t get overconfident to the point to where we feel invincible as though we feel we won’t or can’t ever fall, for pride comes before a fall.
But in order to fight off Satan’s attacks against us when we are down physically we need to state what we know to be the truth in contrast to Satan’s lies, but after a careful examination of our own hearts so that we are not stating what is not truth. And then we can answer back to Satan with the truth and stand strong on the word of God and on our faith.
But in this process we must also recognize the sovereignty of God over our lives. We must accept that God allows us to go through trials which test our faith and that God has a purpose in them, and so we must cooperate with God and with his purpose and not try to fight against him. We should never try to open doors that he has closed or to make our own way in order to try to solve our own problems. We must always rely upon the Lord.
Then we must yield to the sovereignty of God and accept whatever it is he is having us go through, not that we should not pray for deliverance and/or for healing, but that we should surrender our wills to the will of God and allow him to do his work in and through our lives through our trials. For he disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness. And if we learn from the trials they will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness in our lives.
So, don’t resist what the Lord is trying to do in your life. Listen to him. Find out what he is doing. Trust him. And go with him wherever he leads you.
[Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Matt 5:10-12; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]
By W. B. Stevens
Tempted and tried we’re oft made to wonder,
Why it should be thus all the day long;
While there are others living about us,
Never molested though in the wrong.
When death has come and taken our loved ones,
It leaves our home so lonely and drear;
Then do we wonder why others prosper,
Living so wicked year after year.
Faithful till death said our loving Master,
A few more days to labor and wait;
Toils of the road will then seem as nothing,
As we sweep through the beautiful gate.
When we see Jesus coming in glory,
When He comes from His home in the sky;
Then we shall meet Him in that bright mansion,
We’ll understand it all by and by.
Farther along we’ll know all about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, don’t worry, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.
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