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In all of Life's Circumstances

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

"The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances."

Elizabeth Elliot


We are going through the book of James at our church right now and at our Bible study group last week, our leader asked a thought provoking question, "why do some Christian's respond differently when faced with opposition and trials. And why are some growing and others are "still drinking milk when they should be eating meat by now". This was timely with the chronological Bible reading plan that I am currently doing. It so happens that I am in the book of Job and while I was reading the chapters, the answers to that question hit me hard. I started wondering:

Why is it that Job and his wife (both faced with suffering) respond so dramatically different to the suffering?

Jobs wife also lost her children, possessions, and her husband is extremely Ill. We see two people, who are affected by the same disasters, yet have different responses. Jobs wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job 2:9. What is his response? "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said." Job 2:10

My Bible commentary puts it this way:


Although jobs wife must've been as devastate by the loss of their children and livelihood as he was, her words underscore the contrast between her apparent resentment toward God and her husband's resignation to God's sovereignty.

Jobs wife recognized that her husbands suffering was a test of his integrity.


What she said was logical but her theology did not reflect accurately God's character. She reasoned that if her husband was truly innocent as he maintained, then God was being unjust to reward faithfulness with such suffering. In that case, his "integrity" was worthless.

"Being able to trust God completely— in times of grief and celebration— depends on right thinking about Him" -Commentary

 

What is our response to everyday life circumstances? The seemingly insignificant yet still hard moments, as well as the big grandiose life changing challenging ones? Where and to whom do we turn when life comes crumbling down?


These are all simple, yet important questions we need to ask ourselves.


What we know and believe about God, will shape our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. How we respond to every day inconveniences as well as big sufferings, depends on our understanding of who God is.

Knowing Gods character and who he is, takes daily commitment to spending time in his word and communicating with him in prayer. This is why it is crucial to align our theology, with the truth of who God says he is, through his word. Because when trials come (which they absolutely will) you want to be prepared to walk through them with obedience to God.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33


The Bible tells us "A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." Galatians 6:7-8

Are you sowing to the spirit or the flesh? Because little seeds get planted daily and in due time, whatever you planted and invested your time in, will come out. The kind of fruit or plant that comes out will depend on the seed that was sown. When we stay rooted in Gods word daily and "meditate on his word day and night" Psalm 1:2 We will reap the things of the spirit in all of life’s circumstances, including In the big fiery trials. We will be able to stay faithful and obedient to God in our responses and choices, without wavering and compromising our integrity.


I'd like to dive a little deeper into looking at Jobs life and what it looks like to apply ones theology of who God is during suffering. We see in the book of Job that he was a man of integrity who lamented, and cursed the day he was born, yet did not sin against God. "In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." Job 1:22. When messengers came to Job, one after the other like waves without a break, before he could even catch a breath from the first and second tragedy, the third came informing him of all the horrendous disasters that had just befallen him, it stunned me to hear his response.

"At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:20-21. Wow! This kind of response is ONLY possible when knowing who God is. He believed that both "good" and "adversity" should be accepted from God. And this aligns with what the Bible teaches.

In my Bible, I love how they explained this question in the commentary section: "how can I trust a God who has allowed such terrible things to happen to people" Jobs theology is consistent with Gods revelation of Himself in scripture:

 

As the creator, the one God — apart from whom "there is no other," Yahweh declares His absolute sovereignty both to "make success and create disaster" at His discretion. (Is 45:5-7; Rm 9:20-21) He is Lord of all.


Not only is God sovereign and omnipotent, He is also completely:

Just (Gn 18:25; Ps 119:75)

Holy (Jb 6:10; Lv 11:44-45; Ps 99; 1 Pt 1:15-15)

Righteous (Dt 32:4; Pss 7:11; 11:7; 116:5; 145:17; 1 Peter 3:18)

Good (Ex 33:19; 2 Peter 1:3)

The apostle Paul declared "God is Love" (1 Jn 4:8; Ex 34:6; Ps 136:2,26)


In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus affirmed that the Father causes His sun "to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Mt 5:45).


Ability to endure tragedy depends not on the circumstances but on the foundation of the persons life.

A "wise man" hears God's words "and acts on them"; "a foolish man" hears His words but "doesn't act on them" (Mt 7:24-27; Pr 10:25) .


Job expressed exemplary faith in the Lord as:


"The almighty," the God before whom Job preferred to argue his case (6:4, 14; 13:3; 21:15, 20; 23:16; 24:1; 27:2, 10-11, 13; 29:5; 31:2, 35)

One who is "wise and all-powerful," impossible to oppose (9:4; 9:12; 12:13-16)

The sovereign creator over the earth (9:7-10)

The source of life (10:8-12, 18; 12:10; 14:5; 27:3; 31:15

"The powerful one" (9:19)

"The Holy One" (6:10)

The only righteous one and source of justice, "Judge" (9:3, 14-15, 19,24; 12:17-25; 13:9-10,16; 21:22; 23:7; 24:22-24; 31:5-6,14)

The only one who had the right to condemn a man for sin (7:18; 9:32-35; 10:13-17; 31:35

"Witness" and "Advocate" (16:19)

His living "redeemer" (19:25)

Hope of resurrection and eternal life (13:15; 19:26-27)

One who was worthy of unrelenting commitment to righteousness, even when God seemed unfair (6:8-10; 27:1-6)

 

Even though Job knew who God was and believed in his goodness, he was still deeply grieved over his losses and lament was in his heart and on his lips. Anger and blame were not part of his speech. His agony and depression are recorded in the Bible as a response of a human heart to deep and intense suffering. "Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Job‬ ‭3‬:‭20‬-‭26‬ ‭

The same Job that expressed his pain here, is the same Job that expressed his worship, to God here: "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job‬ ‭1‬:‭21‬-‭22‬ ‭

In Chapter 2, when Jobs friends came to visit him it says they sat in silence with him because they saw his suffering was very great. "And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” Job‬ ‭2‬:‭13‬ ‭

It is totally normal and healthy to grieve when we are in pain. But we don't grieve as those who have no hope, becuase our hope is in Christ and his finished work on the cross. Job grieved and wished he wasn't born because of the deep pain within, yet did not sin against God by blaming him and getting angry with him because he knew God was still good. He STILL worshiped God! It is possible, without sinning, to feel deep pain and not emotionally feel joyful and not understand why something is happening in your life, as well as worshiping God in the midst of it all and knowing that he is still good.


There were times in my life where I doubted Gods faithfulness and didn’t think he was good. I wrestled with what God said in his word and how I was feeling, putting my feelings first. What I felt about God was not aligning with who he said he was in scripture. But just because I thought those things, that didn’t actually mean that God was “unfaithful” and “not good”. The truth still remained that God was still faithful and he was still good and in due time he proved himself to be just that and so much more. My feelings don’t change the truths about who God is and his character. I need to align my theology and understanding about who God is with the word of God because only then will I be able to respond to trials and sufferings with praise and thanksgiving. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:8 Not because my circumstances have changed or because I think this trial is so great (said no one ever, because in the moment it’s hard) but because I know who my God is, despite my feelings, I can rest assured of who he says he is in his word and because he has proven himself to be good and faithful over and over again.


There is great joy and peace to be found in the midst of any trial, when we rest assured in who God is and cast ourselves with all our fears, doubts and griefs at the feet of Jesus. My friend no one can sympathize better with you then Jesus himself who knows suffering personally, because he himself has walked through it. He was betrayed, mocked, hated, reviled and in the end crucified by men whom he had created. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” ‭‭ Hebrews‬ ‭4‬:‭15‬-‭16‬ ‭

We have much to rejoice over in the midst of suffering because God is Oh so good and this world is not our final destination. We are eternal beings, made to spend eternity with Christ. Our greatest need, the forgiveness of our sins, has been met by Jesus.


If you are in Christ and a born again believer, take heart and find peace in knowing that even if your circumstances change, Christ never changes and your eternal security and who you are in Christ, are never changing. Your present and future are secure because of Christs finished work on the cross. You are hidden in him. There is so much to rejoice in. You have the God of the universe by your side. He walks behind you and ten steps ahead of you. He hears and he cares. And will carry you through this life in his strong compassionate arms when you can't move a limb because the pain in you is too great and you don't know how you'll face tomorrow. Yet alone the next hour. Run to Jesus, who is our greatest comfort.

Last Sunday at church, the pastor preached on James 1 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James‬ ‭1‬:‭2‬-‭4‬ ‭

Consider means to "ponder, think about," "not feel" your suffering as pure joy, because more often than not, suffering is more painful and sorrowful then it is joyful. Nevertheless, we are instructed to consider and think rightly about it as pure joy because of the purpose it has in a believers life. Suffering produces perseverance, and the only way we can persevere with joy is by renewing our minds daily with Gods word and aligning our thoughts with what God says about himself and ourselves. Our thoughts come first, and then our feelings will follow. But it is not the other way around. This is why it is crucial to make it a priority to sow to the spirit daily and renew our minds with Gods word.


"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2


*If you would like additional reading on this topic, this blog post with an excerpt from Elizabeth Elliot's book called, "A Quiet Heart" is very encouraging.


*Songs

As long as you are glorified

This is the day



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