Welcome to 2017.
Like the Apostle prayed, we pray and ask that God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you may grow in your knowledge of God. We pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called, ‘His holy people’ – who are His rich and glorious inheritance. Finally, we also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him – this is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms or places.
We read from the first chapter of the book of Job to see the portrait of a man, who was described as a perfect man, he was labeled as an upright man who had the fear of God in him. He was also described as one who eschewed, shunned and avoided evil. Not only was he introduced to us by these descriptions, we were also informed about his family, wealth and opulence. He had seven sons and three daughters (10 children in all). He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was in fact the richest person in that entire area.
We were also made aware of the continuous sacrifices he offered for his children in case they had broken the Law in one form or the other. The idea was that Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them. When these celebrations ended, sometimes after several days, Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For he said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.”
This was his regular practice.
The idea we have about God today in the Church is such that God is there so that when we pray to Him, He is bound to give us all that we have ever desired or have asked for. Some have said, when we confess the Word, there is no reason why we should not have all that we want. Some have gone the way of positive thinking while some have wandered into the realm of motivational speaking all in the quest of getting all we want materially and financially. We have and are seeing Church as a place to go when we have any need or want rather than the place where we ought to look for God. In other words, we have tried to use God as a means to an end instead of an end in Himself. Giving your children everything they ask or want in life is a recipe for disaster. Those children will grow up as spoilt children.
Looking back at the story of Job, one would have thought he had reached his final destination like some have been taught because Job had it all going for him. In today’s “Church language”, we would describe Job as one who was worth emulating.
Not long after this was the conversation that took place between God and Satan. It was God who spoke about how perfect His Son was and how he had been one of the greatest men on planet Earth. We discovered that God had given Satan permission to test and destabilize Job.
The question that readily comes to the mind is why would God do that. Did God see something wrong with Job and hence the test and trial? Did God see something wrong in Job that needed some correction and education or more so protection? He is all knowing and would have seen somethings that could be corrected in the life of His son, if not He wouldn’t have allowed Satan to carry out the ordeal.
We soon discovered that Job started to lose everything he had, including his children mentioned above. We read that one day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
We did not read that Job did something wrong, we did not read that all Job had acquired was as a result of his uprightness or the many sacrifices he offered and we did not read that God had planned to punish him. Instead, God had allowed the test because God was about to educate Job for the next phase of his life. David said, many are the afflictions of the righteous but God delivers them from all.
Let us take for example that Job did not go through any of these trials, knowing who we are as Christians, we would have taught around how Job sacrificed and the many things he did as a reason for why he acquired the many material things mentioned above which eventually would lead us away from the grace of God towards legalism. The fact that Job walked uprightly; feared God and eschewed evil did not exonerate him from the many tests and trials in accordance with the purpose and the Will of God.
The present day Christian believes that the moment one commits to God, everything must begin to work to our advantage; we see and believe that anything that seems to be negative has suddenly come from the Devil. Some of us believe that many wrong things (according to our perspective) have come upon us because we have done something wrong or bad and so God must be punishing us. We then begin to look for how to pray to avoid the many sufferings that God has earmarked for us. We also miss the lessons we’re supposed to learn in the sufferings thereby become unfit for the next phase of our lives.
In 2017, we can only pray that God will strengthen us so that we are able to face the challenges (positive or negative) ahead.
“Accept your afflictions. They are a part of your education. All afflictions are not chastisements for sin; there are some afflictions that have quite another end and object. Some of you people of God, when you get bitter waters, want to throw them away. Do not throw a drop of it away, for that is the water you have yet to drink” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Again, Welcome to 2017 and may His Will be done!