“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” – Psalm 37:7
What would have happened if David had asked God to remove the temptation or asked for forgiveness when he committed adultery or had told Uriah the truth instead of scheming? In David’s case his weakness was his downfall.
How do we respond when there is adversity in our lives? Do we try to handle it ourselves or do we turn to God for help or answers? Do we blame someone else, try to escape from the problem or deny the problem, become depressed or do we pray? How do the people in the Bible deal with Adversity?
Job was a blameless and righteous man who feared God and shunned evil. Job was tested. He lost his possessions and he was covered in sores. Those who were once close to him shunned him. After his first test, Job said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” – Job 1:21. Job did not blame God for what happened. When he was tested the second time, he still did not curse God. His reasoning was, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)
His friends rebuked him, judged him, and tried to convince him that these things were happening to him because he had sinned. One said, “Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? When your children sinned against Him, He gave them over to the penalty of their sin.” (Job 8:3-4). This friend is saying that Job sinned and that’s why these calamities were falling on him. His children were killed because they sinned. These friends didn’t believe Job when he told them that he had no idea why these things were happening to him—that he was innocent, blameless. As Bildad argues, “Surely God does not reject a blameless man.” (Job 8-20a)
Job didn’t blame anyone for what was happening to him—all he wanted was for his friends to have pity on him, to take his word that he had done nothing to warrant such suffering. And most of all he wanted answers. He longed for the time when God was with him, when God blessed him and his household, when his children were still alive and when people respected him.
Often when people are suffering, they look back on the times when they were happy and at peace. They long for those times. They try to understand what they did or didn’t do to bring this on themselves like Job does. (Job 31) As far as he knew he hadn’t done anything wrong like denying the poor, justice to his servants, lusting after another woman or not sharing what he had.
When God speaks to Job, he learns that everything under Heaven belongs to Him. (Job 41:11) He learns that God is in control—that He allows adversity in order to strengthen the person. In Job’s case He wanted to prove the devil wrong. He wanted to show that Job could still remain sinless, maintain his integrity in the midst of his suffering. He did not curse God or confess sins he had not committed.
Job realised that he was seeing things from his perspective and not God’s. He realised that God can do all things and that He had a plan. He would not have given Job more than he could handle. God had a reason for allowing this to happen. He could have stopped it anytime or He didn’t have to prove anything to Satan. But, God wanted the devil to see that Job would be faithful to Him not just when things were good but also when things were very bad.
Also, in His speech to Job, God asked Job who was he to contend with Him. It was as if Job is putting God on trial. “I sign now my defence—let the Almighty answer me, let my accuser put his indictment in writing.” (Job 31-35) God does not have to defend Himself to us. He doesn’t want us to question Him about why things are not going well in our lives—He wants us to trust Him.
Also, the fact that He answered Job proved that He was there all the time. He heard every word Job and his friends said. God does not desert us when we are in pain and suffering but we assume that He has when He doesn’t answer us right away. He wants to see how we will respond. Do we wallow in self-pity or do we turn to Him for comfort? Do we ask, “God, why me? Or do we ask, “God, will you help me get through this?
Job seemed to think that people suffer when they do bad things and he couldn’t understand why he who kept to God’s way without turning aside should be the one suffering. “Why do the wicked live on, grow old and increasing in power? They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes. Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not upon them.” (Job 21:7-9) He goes on to say that he does not associate with the wicked yet calamity hardly seems to touch them.
Job feels that as a righteous man who fed the poor, shared his wealth, and was kind to his neighbours should not be suffering while the wicked were continuing to prosper. Nothing seemed to happen to them. Job thought that this was unfair. He couldn’t understand why God was nowhere to be found or why those who had no desire to know Him or follow in His ways were allowed to enjoy their lives while he, a man who feared God, suffered.
We too get upset and resentful when it seems that life is going smoothly for some people while others are struggling. It seems unfair that people who are abusive, neglectful are able to have children while others who are loving, nurturing cannot. Or people who are less qualified are promoted and those who are more qualified are forced to work for them. All these things are unfair but, David advises us to, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.” (Psalm 37:7)
What we have to remember is that God is almighty and that we should always praise Him no matter what our circumstances are. David praised Him when the Philistines seized him, when he was in the desert, when he was fleeing from Saul who was trying to kill. Not matter what he was going through, David never stopped praising God and trusting Him.
We should praise God in good times and in bad. We should trust Him instead of questioning Him and remember that He is just and doesn’t allow events to take place in our lives without good reason. Job realised that God is in charge and that he was talking about things he didn’t understand—that he was focusing on the wrong things—the pain and the cause for his suffering instead of focusing on God. He should have recognised that the same God who created the world and the beauty around him could easily bring him out of his misery.
In the end Job recognised the almighty power of God and he repented. His eyes were opened to who God truly is. He is the Almighty who is not to be contended with, rebuked or questioned. Twice He said to Job, “I will question you and you shall answer me.” We don’t demand answers from God. When or if He wants to reveal them to us He will. All we have to do is praise Him, trust Him and in the end we emerge stronger with more than we lost. As a result Job was richly blessed. He gained more than he lost. (Job 42:12-17)