Whenever I was in school, I remember one teacher who enjoyed giving tests. He would wear a “test tie” on the days he was giving a test, which was really an uncoordinated, loud tie. Some he would wear a red contact lens. Once he opened a bag of chips and started eating them and crinkling the bag during the test. Whenever he gave tests, I made sure I studied because I knew there would be distractions and the test would be more difficult than the other classes. I used flash cards and met with other students to prepare to make sure we passed.
It’s funny that we spend so much time preparing for school tests, but very little time preparing for life’s test. God had so much faith in Job’s ability to pass any test that Satan could give him that he agreed to allow him to be sent through the wringer. Satan even tried to get in his head to distract him with his wife and friends who constantly accused him of wrongdoing. However, Job was prepped for the test, In Job 23:10-11 he says, “But he (God) knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.”
Job put something inside of him that was greater than any test he would face: God’s Word and a determination to stay on God’s Paths. When life tests us and we aren’t prepared, we may be like Job’s wife and friends who wanted to curse God and die. But if we will determine in our hearts to stick with God and trust what He’s doing in our life, we will pass any test that comes our way no matter how many distractions there are. God has enough faith in you to allow you to be tested. It’s time you trusted your faith in what you’ve been taught and pass.
Do circumstances determine your faithfulness to God? My mom died on a Friday morning over twenty years ago. On Sunday, we all went to church. I remember a man coming over to me and said, “Didn’t your mom just pass? Why are y’all at church? I would take this opportunity to stay home.” Honestly i was shocked by the question. We had been praying for her healing for a year, but when God didn’t answer our prayers the way we wanted Him to, it didn’t mean we weren’t going to continue going to worship anymore. I looked at him and said, “This is the only place we want to be.”
After Job passed his first test by worshipping God after losing everything, Satan went back to God for permission to take away his health. Job then got painful boils all over his body. As he sat in some ashes scraping his skin with broken pottery, his wife came up to him. In Job 2:9, she said, “You are still as faithful as ever, aren’t you? Why don’t you curse God and die?” (GNT) She couldn’t understand how he didn’t blame God or continue to worship Him when all was lost. Her faithfulness to God was dependent on circumstances rather than faith.
You and I have to learn to look beyond our circumstances to the character of God. Who has He been forever? Our circumstances don’t change who He is. I love Romans 12:12. It says, “Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.” Every one of us will face hardship in life, and that season will pass. Be patient as you go through that time. Let it draw you closer to God and to deepen your faith in Him. If our faith is only skin deep, so is our relationship with God. He’s calling us to trust Him more and to remain faithful no matter what.
Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash
I’m one of those people who loves it when a business puts a survey at the bottom of a receipt. If you’ve ever wondered who takes those, it’s me! Whether it’s for food, a flight, customer service experience, an oil change or whatever, I like to take them. Part of it is that I can get something for free usually, but the other part is that I get a say in how they conduct business. Many times I think if they would just take my suggestion, they’d be so much better off.
I have a friend who owns a business, and one time I started to give him a suggestion, “If I were you, I’d…” He stopped me and said, “You’re not going to think of something we haven’t. We’ve been doing this every day for years.” Part of me was hurt that they didn’t want an outside set of eyes. The other part of me understood. They know their business inside and out. Who am I to try to tell them how to run it?
The bigger problem comes in when we try to tell God how things should be. Have you ever tried that? “God, if you would have just done this, that wouldn’t have happened.” We love to tell God how things should have happened, especially when we aren’t happy with the outcome. We love to tell God how to do things as if we know better. Yes, if He had done it our way, we would have missed out on a lot of pain. But do we really know better?
Job 21:22 says, “But who are we to tell God how to run His affairs?” (MSG) Do we really know better than He does? He sees the whole picture, and we see a small part. Like a good parent, He does what’s best for us even if we don’t like it. He sees the outcome before anything happens. Like a child, we may not understand why things happen or what He’s doing, but we have to trust Him even when it upsets us. He’s always working for our good.
There’s an exercise I do with people to show how our minds jump to conclusions and we assume. We observe a conversation where a lot of things are left open, and then I ask them questions about it. The group doesn’t know that I’m exposing how their brain works. As I ask the questions, they typically make assumptions. I keep asking questions to get as much detail from them as I can to see how much they’ve made up.
I keep asking questions until someone inevitably says, “I don’t know.” I then go back to what was said and ask, “So what do we really know?” I sometimes have to go through it several times before they get it. Most of the answers they give are based on their assumptions and not on what they know. I then like to ask, “How much of your life is based on what you’re assuming versus what you know?” It’s a heavy question that I usually leave several seconds of silence after while they think.
Job was a righteous man in the Bible. He honored God in all he did and even fell down to worship God when he lost his kids and his wealth. As time went on and he was struck with boils, his friends began to question his integrity. In their conversations back and forth, it’s clear that they make many assumptions about his predicament and how God is doing it to Him. They don’t know that Satan is behind the whole thing and is the one tormenting Job.
In Job 19:25, Job makes a great statement. He says, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives” (NLT). We may not know why we go through certain things or why things happen, but we can know that our redeemer lives. We can live with assurance that He is in control and our lives are in His hands. We need to stop our assumptions that God is behind everything bad that happens in our lives. We know that it’s the enemy who steals, kills and destroys. It’s God who brings life. So they next time things happen, don’t make decisions based on assumptions. Go with what you know.
If you were on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”, and you were down to the final question with the Phone a Friend Lifeline left, who would you call? Is there anyone in your life you trust that much when that much pressure is on and so much is at stake? Believe it or not, I imagined that scenario over and over again when the show was popular. Only a couple of people came to mind who had the knowledge and poise to deliver in that moment.
When you think about it, that’s a lot of trust you’re putting in that individual. When everything is on the line, you’re saying, “I trust this person with my future.” You may or may not be able to think of someone off the top of your head. When Satan appeared in Heaven one day, God asked him what he had been doing. He replied, “I have been walking here and there, roaming around the earth” (NLT). Then in Job 1:8. God said, “Did you notice my servant Job?”
Satan then accused Job of only trusting God because he had been blessed and was protected by God. He asked, “Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it?” God then allowed Satan to take away everything Job had. God trusted Job in that million dollar moment. When so much was at stake, God looked at him and said, “That’s my guy. I trust him.” And if you’ve read the book of Job, you know that when Satan took everything from him, he fell down and blessed God.
I wonder if God would trust me in that moment. Would He trust you? Is our faith based on who God is or is it based on the blessings in our lives? It’s easy to serve God when the blessings are flowing and things are easy. Would we have the same response as Job if we lost everything? Would we be able to drop to our knees and praise Him no matter what? It’s a tough question, but one that must be asked. What would be your response in that million dollar moment?
I don’t know if there’s a Christian alive who hasn’t gone through a difficult time and wondered why people who are outright evil don’t appear to be suffering. You try to do everything God asks and follow all the rules, yet there is someone in your life living in outright rebellion to God and nothing ever happens to them. It’s unfair. It’s unjust. Why should the godly suffer when we are the ones who try to do right? Shouldn’t God bless us because we are his followers and curse them?
I’ve been caught in that trap before. I’ve questioned God’s decision to allow me to suffer while others enjoy life’s greatest blessings. At times, I’ve felt like my life was worse than Job’s. In the midst of my suffering, I’ve wondered if anyone ever had it as bad as me. I allowed myself to wallow in self pity. It didn’t get Job anywhere, and it certainly didn’t get me anywhere. God didn’t even seem to notice my pity party. I thought, “Maybe I should just live how I want since living right hasn’t gotten me anything except this pain.”
When we act on those thoughts, we fail the test God has given us. I’ve found that God only tests those worthy of taking it. Everything Job went through was a test to prove that he wasn’t righteous only because of his blessings. God was showing that his faith didn’t rely on his health or possessions. It relied on his trust in God even when God was silent during the test. It relied on who He had found God to be in the good times. It didn’t get distracted in the storm.
True faith gets tested. True faith trusts God even when we can’t see Him or feel Him. It’s understandable that we want to compare ourselves to others who aren’t living right, but we are to trust in God no matter what. Psalm 40:4 says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods” (NIV). We are blessed when we can keep our eyes on God in the midst of chaos. We pass the test when our trust in God outweighs our circumstances. We need to realize God is testing us because we are worthy of being tested.
One of the things I love about the book of Job is that it goes into depth about his thinking during his suffering. So much of the book is him conversing with his wife and friends about his situation. You can feel the pain this man went through as you read it. After his children died and his possessions were stolen, he became very sick. He was covered from head to toe with sores. He felt like trash and that’s just where he went, to the dump.
In Job 6:2-3 he said, “If my misery could be weighed and my troubles be put on the scales, they would outweigh all the sands of the sea” (NLT). He was struggling with the loss of his family, the loss of his stature, and the loss of his health. He was weighed down by everything that had happened in his life, but he was determined not to let it affect his relationship with God. He refused to let his external circumstances dictate what His thoughts about God were.
For me, that’s one of the greatest lessons of Job. Choose to serve God anyway. Don’t let circumstances determine the depth of your faith and trust in God. We cannot be fair weather Christians. We cannot only serve God when things are going well and it’s convenient for us. We also can’t let the only time we run to God be in the bad times. God wants consistent Christianity out of us. He wants us to be in communion and fellowship with Him no matter what is going on in our life.
Consistent Christianity is more than going to church. It’s more than performing rituals and memorized prayers. It’s about taking the time to know who God is for yourself. It’s about having a daily time set aside where you pray and meditate on what God’s Word says. It’s about living your life the way you say you believe. It’s not about being perfect, but holy. It’s not about being a Christian in name only, but in our lifestyle and through the words that we speak. Consistent Christianity is a daily choice to live a life that is different than the world lives.
I Peter 1:15 says, “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.” It doesn’t say to only be holy between 9-12 on Sunday’s. It’s a command to be holy in every area of our lives. When we live that way, we can survive what Job survived and more. We can fall to our knees and worship God the way he did because our relationship with God is deeper than any struggle. That’s how we were intended to live.