Patience My Friend is Golden

We are so blessed in this life to receive the lessons that God brings our way.  At times, being unaware or naïve, we tend to overlook these gems, but the more that you delve into His word you begin to see the blessing that only His wisdom can bring.

The greatest lesson that I have gleaned from the book of Job is the use of patience during trials and I believe that we all can relate to that.  Many of us have been in trials in which we must wait to see what the storm is bringing and revealing.  The main problem for man, however, is that we are not accustomed to waiting.  We always want to know why, and we demand answers now. Yes, we are stubborn indeed.

We have forgotten where we came from and whose we are!  We are born into this world with nothing and what we receive, or sow is the gift of God as Job 1:21 points out.

            “And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

God had blessed Job with a wife and children, land to manage and so much more and he prospered greatly.  Satan came to God with a proposition.  He wanted to prove man’s frailty and susceptibility to being tempted.  He further argued that man would not only fall into temptation, but that he would also curse God.

It was God who suggested Job.  Job was a faithful man who followed the Lord.  He was tempted, but because he had been so richly blessed by God, he could resist temptation.  Job knew he started with nothing, yet he was blessed greatly for his righteousness.  We often presume that God owes us something.  Again, go back to Job 1:21 and it stresses that we came with nothing and we leave with nothing.  Anything we receive during this lifetime is indeed a blessing and should be acknowledged as such.

Satan accepted the offer of testing Job.  He was certain that Job would not only fall into temptation, but he would denounce God.  God gave His authorization to tempt Job, but Satan could not kill Job.  After a parting of ways, Satan began to put his plan into motion.  He was going to tempt Job and make him suffer throughout this test.

Naively, many of us assume that once we come to Christ, nothing bad would befall us.  On the contrary, I found that when I gave my life to Christ, I endured more heartache.  My soul was not the world’s, but it now belonged to God.  We are still tempted, we still sin despite our desire not to, and we will suffer consequences for our actions.  I am not pointing fingers, but rather I would like us to take the storms that come our way and navigate through them.  How do we do this?  We put our trust in God and let Him lead.  We grow impatient and want answers now, but what are we willing to give in return?  Are we willing to take a deep look at ourselves and admit when we make mistakes and fall?  Do we take it to God, or do we just assume that all is okay?  Wake up!  We must acknowledge our actions and accept the consequences that may result from this.  We cannot sit in the corner and ask why me?  People, we are sinners, and we do things that we are not supposed to do, yet God wants to refine us and remove the dross from our lives.  I used to have a “wicked” temper and I was too quick with the comeback.  My sarcasm was spot on, but I was doing wrong and harming someone with my words.  God taught me several lessons to point this out and now I try to think before I speak.  I do not want to cause anyone harm by my words and I do feel bad if I slip.  However, I take it to God and confess and try not to go back to my old nature.  This is just one of the lessons I have been taught and it usually came during a hardship or low point.  God wanted my attention, and this was a productive way to get it.

I am not saying Job was doing anything wrong, but nevertheless an important lesson was being taught.  So, let us explore this further, shall we?

After Job lost everything:  family, cattle, and his health to mention a few, his “friends” came to console him.  Careful who you let in the door during your weakest hours.  They may be a familiar face or seem concerned, but they keep their real reason concealed from you – at least at first.

Everyone has a few fair-weathered friends and as usual they show up at the lowest point of your life and seem to have all the answers.  They talk, assume, continue talking, and then tell you what you either did wrong or advise you as how to correct the matter at hand.  Job’s so-called friends are no different than those we know today.  He listened to what they had to say, but like so many of these types of friends, they did not hear how Job responded.  They were determined to keep him under their thumbs by pointing out what he lost and why he lost it.  In their minds he committed a grievous sin against God, and he was being punished for this.  They jumped to conclusions people.  I know several people who always assume and place blame without having the whole story.  They were pompous and acted very condescending to Job.  He let God down, but they failed to apply that to their own life.  I liken this to going to court and having the prosecutor presenting the case and then the jury feels they heard enough and found the defendant guilty.  No opposing counsel to present his side.  Their minds were made up and everyone was ready for the sentencing to begin.

However, let us take a quick look at what these friends did do right.  They traveled to come and see him and mourned with him and sat with him for seven days.  On the seventh day they began to speak.  They empathized and administered to Job during these first few days.   Whenever we go through a dark valley it is humbling when we see those faces that we have become accustomed to.  A person who is willing to travel, hold your hand during a crisis, bend an ear to listen to your pain and administer care is a treasured jewel.  They were indeed on point for all of this.  But then they spoke!

It is hard enough going through a hardship and tried to get re-acclimated to new situations and settings.  Having those around you who have not experienced what you are going through but advising you nonetheless on what they perceive you did wrong, can shake you to the core or limit of tolerance.

These friends started off with good intentions, but then they had to get their point across.  The first mistake is that they try to speak for God.  They point their fingers at Job and accuse him of the mess that he is in due to disobedience.  No one should ever speak for God.  God was not punishing Job.  At the beginning of all this Satan approached God and arrogantly stated he could get someone to curse God through the difficulties of life.  God suggested Job someone who was faithful and obedient.  That does not sound like punishment to me!  God was making a point that a true follower will stand on the truth and not curse God during the rough patches of life.  Job was an example set, not a punishment.  God allowed this to happen and that makes the difference.  Sometimes when we suffer it can be a test to strengthen our faith, or some other purpose is coming out of that trial that God wants to direct you to.  The friends assumed the worst yet failed to seek God for answers.  They should have taken note to the earlier conversations they had with Job when they empathized with him.  They should have encouraged Job to continue and endure the hardship.  They should have said they would stand by him no matter what.  Advising him to wait to hear from God.  We all tend to jump the gun and assume first, and only after the trial is over, we see the real reason for the trial breaking through.

I went through many painful times and some of those times the trial seemed to be impossible, and I wanted to just stop going on.  However, during some of these times it was the trial that propelled me to something different and more rewarding.  We need to pray on this, and we need to wait for the answer or revelation.  Trust him!

The final part of this blog that I want to focus on is the lessons we should have recognized about our God.  First, God not only knows all, but He sees all – right down to the most minute detail.  In Hebrews 4:15-16 we learn to draw strength from Jesus who has been tempted.

            “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Job revered God, but he failed to see all that God encompasses.  He questioned God, but where he went wrong is that he expected to be told why or receive justification for this trial.  I do not believe God minds when we earnestly and respectfully ask Him questions.  However, we have no authority to demand answers or justification.  It is out of His nature that we get answers from time to time.  Keep in mind we have just a glimpse of what is, and we lack the knowledge and comprehension of seeing the whole picture.

In Job 2:10, Job gives us an important piece of wisdom.  His wife basically tells him to curse God for his misery and he responds as follows:

            “But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women would speak.  Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

As I mentioned before, nowhere in The Bible is it mentioned that everything will be sunshine and roses once you come to Christ.  We will suffer trials and hardships.  However, as Paul points out, we need to be content no matter the circumstance.  We are all just a breath away from death.

My next point is that God establishes the time and limits of our trials.  Everything is on His timing.  We just need to focus on Him and continue despite the trial.  Some trials that I have gone through seemed to last forever.  As I continue to grow, I see that whenever I was being moved elsewhere or beginning a new chapter, the trial seemed unbearably long.  Again, we must reason that since we have just a glimpse, we cannot see what details must be met before the trial ends.  Waiting is hard – ask Job.

During trials do not focus on why, but how I can grow from this lesson.  Most of us, myself included back in the day, used comebacks to justify our need for vindication of the trial.  For example, I demanded payback if I was wronged, or I am going to show you how fast I will heal mentality.  I was young and arrogant; thus, I needed this trial to learn how to accept the hardship, pray on it and grow.  His patience was graciously extended to me during these times and for that I am grateful.  God’s reasons are beyond our understanding as Elihu pointed out to Job in 33:12-22.  He states that God is greater than man and who can contend against him. Man has charges against God (as Job pleads his innocence) and because of our limitations, we are unable to justify those charges.  Arrogantly, man still is determined to defend himself before God.  We need to listen for God to speak to us whether it be through His word or in a dream or vision as He spoke to the people in the Old Testament.  As we go through a trial, do not focus on our justification of our actions, but rather we should seek God and ask for His wisdom and guidance through this.

Seek the lesson being taught and do not look at your situation in which you ask why you are going through this.  Why will never be answered unless God wants us to know.  Place your trust in the Lord in the face of anguish.  Once the lesson is taught you will receive your reward in whatever form it may come.  For some it will be a wiser perspective, for some it may involve a new chapter to write and explore.  Our God is faithful, good, and true.

We must learn to wait, listen, and then act.  In my next blog of this series, I am going to take a closer look at Joseph and his time in prison.  There is a nugget of insight on what we learn when we persevere.  Until then take care and God bless.

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