Job 5:17-18 Blessed is the man whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
One thing that really complicates reading the Book of Job is that Job’s friends say a number of things that are true on the face of it, but in the end, the Lord says, “You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7) It’s not that the words themselves were wrong necessarily, but that they were spoken in ignorance and presumption. They did not know of any sins of Job for which he was being punished, but they presumed he must have committed some for all this to be happening to him. The Bible is clear in many places that God indeed disciplines us to draw us back to Him, most notably in Proverbs 3:11-12, as quoted in Hebrews 12:5-6. (Hebrews 12:1-13 is a somewhat extended exposition on the subject.) However, not every bad thing that happens to us is because we triggered it in some way, and that is the overall message of the Book of Job. We are to be humble before God and repent as soon as He shows us anything that is not pleasing to Him, but we are not to think that everything has a one-to-one relationship. As Jesus famously told His disciples just before His cross, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) We live in a fallen world, but when we serve the risen Lord of glory, we’ve got nothing to worry about. (Romans 8:37) Right now many people are anxious because of the pandemic, and indeed, I’ve had a friend die of it. However, we are not to live in fear, thinking that “God’s out to get us.” We aren’t even to fear the devil, because “the one who is in [us] is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) Rather, we are to live in humble, joyful obedience, with eager anticipation of God’s plans being fulfilled.
This naturally applies to me as much as it does to anyone. As a pastor I regularly deal with people who are saying, “Why me?” I tell them that it is just as appropriate to ask that question when good things happen! There are things that have happened in my life that were the direct consequences of my sins, but also things that were unrelated. I have put myself in the flow of God’s blessings at times by my obedience, but sometimes He’s just blessed me out of the blue. As I talked about in the message on the 24th, I wasn’t being particularly faithful or obedient when He blessed me with my wife! I am not to be deterministic, either with myself or with others, about why things happen, but I am always to be listening for the Holy Spirit to tell me when and where I need to repent, and I seek to encourage others to do so as well. As Paul said, I’m to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15) I’m not to be flippant, like Job’s friends, but rather seek God for what He has to say, following Him whether He tells me why, or not.
Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s an interesting one to have on Pentecost Sunday! I have prayed and I do pray for You to pour Your Spirit out on all Your children in this city, but I do not presume to dictate to You. I do believe that You want every one of Your children to be filled with Your Spirit, to walk in close fellowship with You, so I ask You to bring that about, on Your schedule and in Your way, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!