A storm rolls in right around the time it was forecasted…so we’re glad we remembered our umbrella.
A baby is born close to their due date…so we’re thankful the nursery is ready.
A house closes on the day and time as planned…so we’re glad we don’t have to reschedule the moving truck.
Meetings happen on time and work hours are the same Monday – Friday…so we’re happy by the productivity.
We schedule our days, make appointments, and clear our calendars for time with family and friends…so we’re blessed by sweet fellowships.
Even the seasons continue right on schedule: the fall always follows summer and the winter precedes spring…so we’re able to enjoy the cycle of nature.
There are so many events and circumstances that happen in our life day after day, month after month, and year after year that really never catch us by surprise. And, we do not need to really give some activities or situations much detailed thought because they are just the rhythms and routines of life. Expected and foreseen. Planned and provided.
But it’s when the unexpected and the unforeseen occurs when we can find ourselves at quite a crossroad – a crossroad that holds immense favorable and/or unfavorable consequences for our life.
Just like Job.
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s home, a messenger came to Job. He said, “While the oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, men from Sheba attacked. They took the livestock and massacred the servants. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “A fire from God fell from heaven and completely burned your flocks and servants. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three companies and made a raid on the camels. They took the camels and massacred the servants. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine at their oldest brother’s home when suddenly a great storm swept across the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It fell on the young people, and they died. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you.”
Job stood up, tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said,
“Naked I came from my mother,
and naked I will return.
The Lord has given,
and the Lord has taken away!
May the name of the Lord be praised.”
Through all this Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong. (Job 1:13-22)
In only a matter of a few short moments, Job found himself in circumstances that he did not see coming. Circumstances that literally turned this righteous man’s world completely upside down and in only a few horrifying moments, he was at a crossroad.
To trust God or not.
To stand with God or not.
To walk by faith or not.
Which path did he choose? In his next breath, he chose to trust God! He chose to see his God in the midst of his pain and suffering and praised Him for His glory! He chose not to sin or blame God for anything that happened in his life.
He chose to live by faith.
His life was suddenly abrupted by chaos by the Accuser’s evil schemes to debilitate Job and to destroy his faith. But why? Why would a loving God allow such crushing blows to a righteous man?
For us to really understand if even asking ‘why’ is a faith-based question, we need to look at when these anguishing circumstances even began for Job. We need to go back to verse 8 of Chapter 1 because it’s there when we find God initiating a conversation with Satan by asking a question that spurred a purposed dialogue:
“Have you thought about…”
Before we read the rest of this dialogue between God and the Accuser, let’s look deeper at what God was saying … what He was Providentially putting in motion when He spoke those four words. But before we do, let’s understand that the book of Job bears the name of the narrative’s primary character. This name might have been derived from the Hebrew word for “persecution,” so his name would mean “persecuted one,” or from an Arabic word meaning “repent,” – bearing the name “repentant one.” Although the book does not name its author, Job himself is an unlikely candidate because the book’s message actually rests on Job being unaware of the events that occurred in heaven as they related to his suffering. There are matters going on in heaven with God that believers know nothing about; yet, they affect their lives.
Let’s look at these four words spoke by God to Satan, the Accuser.
“Have you” – First, notice that He is asking Satan a question, but in all His Omniscience He already knows the answer. He knows the mind of Satan and He knows the answer. Yet, He directs the question directly to him in the form of a questions.
“Have you thought about“ – In those four words, I realized He was laying the ground work for what He was providentially preparing for Job – suffering! He wanted Satan to not only think about Job, but to consider him” – God was speaking directly to His adversary and no one else. This was a question that would begin a dialogue that God would sovereignly control every sentence, phrase, word and punctuation. God wanted to prove the character of believers to Satan and to all demons, angels, and people.
The accusations are by Satan, who indicted God’s claims of Job’s righteousness as being untested, if not even questionable. Satan accused the righteous of being faithful to God only for what they could get. Since, (according to Satan), Job did not serve God with pure motives, the whole relationship between him and God was a sham. God knew Satan would be cocked and confident in his efforts to turn Job against God, to cause him to renounce his faith, because he had led the holy angels to rebel with him. Satan thought he could destroy Job’s faith in God by inflicting overwhelming and personal suffering on him, showing in principle that saving faith could be shattered. God knew this about Satan and that is why He initiated the heavenly debate.
This was a conversation that God initiated because only God knew by permitting Satan to afflict Job’s life would underscore the importance of trusting His purposes in the middle of suffering. Suffering, like all other human experiences, is directed by perfect divine wisdom. In the end, the lesson learned was that we may never know the specific reason for our suffering; but we must trust in Sovereign God. That is the real answer to suffering. Trusting God. You see, as I read those four words spoken by God to Satan, “Have you thought about” I realized God wanted Satan to not only think about Job, but to consider him.
“Have you thought about my servant Job? No one in the world is like him! He is a man of integrity: He is decent, he fears God, and he stays away from evil.” – I remember reading those first four words one day, “Have you thought about….”, when I cried out to the Lord after constant afflictions by Satan in my own life. Because Satan is behind the entire evil world system, he was not necessarily permitted to directly (from himself) bring suffering against me, but he was using his army of influences to work that system against me through people. Through the words and behaviors of others. How do I know this? Because after listening to this message by Dr. John MacArthur, I recognized Satan’s activities in bringing pain and suffering against a believer. And it also helped me to learn what I should never do or say as a Christian; as someone who lives as the temple of His Holy Spirit desiring to glorify Him in word and in behavior.
You see, Satan used people to do his work of bringing so much contempt, unworthiness, thoughts of rightfully deserving scorn, rejection, slander and betrayal against me. For several years, I suffered with deep emotional pain and mental anguish that my dear friend and Christian counselor, Dr. Ron Mumbower, explained to me were actually wounds of abuse and grief in my life. He showed me how certain things were actually abusive and toxic towards me and we both agreed that the Accuser was behind it all. He is the Destroyer and works his evil world system against Christ’s church; against those who have been born again. This understanding helped me know how to pray and how to place biblical boundaries in my life as well. Boundaries that, as Ron helped me to see, would be ‘health’ for me. Boundaries are never placed on other people. And Christians are to always seek unity among the family of God and to show the grace and love of Christ to all people. Boundaries are what we place in our life upon ourselves so that relationally we honor others and bringing glory to God.
“We’re no more like the Accuser than when we slander, gossip, lie, or bring a false and contemptuous accusation against another person; we are not manifesting the speech of the Holy Spirit but the speech of Satan.” John MacArthur
“Think for a moment how your lives have been hurt by the words of other people, by the assault of the tongue against your character – sometimes justly but many times unjustly. Love bites the tongue! The Holy Spirit is not a slanderer. Satan is given the title that means slanderer. Slander is of the flesh. Cheating, frauding, gossiping, running down another person’s name, tearing them apart, is in contrast and in opposition to the operation of love. Love edifies. Love builds up. It is not destructive towards one’s neighbor. ” – RC Sproul
As I suffered heavy sorrow due to the words and choices of others, it was while suffering that God allowed me to experience His grace in ways that only provided me with true JOY and to make Psalm 19:14 a daily prayer.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
This was the Series, “God, Satan, and Angels,” by MacArthur, but it was this message Satan: What Is He Like? that the Lord used to help me know how to pray, how to love, how to speak, how to behave/not behave, and how to trust Him … … all while suffering due to the considerations of Satan.