He was a righteous man and, oh, was he blessed. Everything he did God touched and blessed it. His family was blessed. His business was blessed. His heart was blessed. And He served God willingly and faithfully. Then he lost everything. What do you do when blessings fall away?
This is the essence of the story of Job in the Old Testament. In one day because of a series of tragedies, his children are killed. He loses all of his wealth due to robbers. All of his servants are killed. And not too long after this, his falls ill and his entire body is covered in boils from head to toe.
In this poem that depicts the account of Job’s life, God is speaking to Satan about the righteousness of Job. Satan answers with this question, “Does Job serve God for nothing?” The premise of his question to the Lord was that Job was faithful and righteous because of all of the blessings in his life. God had put a hedge of protection around Job so that no harm had come to him and in every way, he was blessed of God. It takes us to a deception of the Devil that we fall prey to often without realizing it. The idea Satan is proposing is that righteousness and blessings should always run together. In other words, if I am faithful in my service and faithfulness to God, I can expect blessings. When God blesses, it is a reward for living right and putting Him first in our life. Of course, if this is true, then the opposite would also have to be true, that if a person is not living right, they should not be rewarded with blessings. But what do you do when you are living right, according to His word, serving Him the best you know how but the blessings fall away? And what do you do when you see someone that you know could care less about God, His Word, His will, or anyone else for that matter, yet they life is blessed?
If you have ever been frustrated at your lack of blessings or jealous of someone else’s blessings, you have fallen into this trap from Hell. Now, you have heard me say a million times that God wants to bless you and surely He does. I mean, it’s everywhere in Scripture. Jeremiah 29, for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you. 1 Corinthians 2, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind can conceive the plans God has for you. Luke 6, give and it shall be given to you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over!!! God wants to bless you, no doubt! The struggle we have with this trap so stealthily laid out for us is our understanding of God’s desire to bless us.
Heaven. Eternity. Love. Joy. Serenity. These are the greater blessings. The Lord wants you to enjoy the things of this Earth. Why do you think the Promised Land was filled with milk, honey, and grape vines so luscious? Why do you think things like food (especially Blue Bell vanilla bean ice cream ), sex, sports, and good books are so enjoyable? God wants you to enjoy life here and now. He wants you to be blessed in this life. But God never settles for less than His very best and the blessings found in the Earthly realm are more than inferior to the eternal blessings. Love, joy, peace, these are eternal blessings. He gives these to us now, but as wonderful as is the love and joy He pours into our hearts now, they are but the smallest fraction of the love, joy, and peace we will experience in eternity. These are the blessings He really wants to give us. New cars, big houses, promotions at work, heck, even supernatural healings are nothing compared to what we will experience one day.
The story of Job eradicates the idea that the righteous will be rewarded with blessings. Ok, ok…OK!!!! It eradicates the idea that the righteous will be rewarded with Earthy blessings. Sometimes the temporal blessings corrupt our heart keeping us from receiving the greater blessings of eternity. If you miss this principle, you will be ambushed.
Job struggled with this. He struggled understanding why his righteousness was answered by such tragedy. His friends were certain that the curses he was experiencing were the punishment for sin, but the Lord Himself had called Job blameless. There was no sin that caused the loss of everything.
Falling into this trap will altar our understanding of God’s character. If righteous is SUPPOSED to be rewarded with Earthly blessings and protection, and if unrighteousness is SUPPOSED to be punished with hardship and pain, how do we process things when the righteous suffer and the unrighteous thrive? Our idea of God will begin to turn and morph. The seemingly unfairness of it all will cause us to see God playing favorites. If rewards do not come to the righteous and believe they are supposed to, but they do go to the unrighteous, but they shouldn’t, the only way we can process this is that God just likes some people more than others. We might see someone else living an awesome life while we are suffering and think to ourselves that God just doesn’t like us as much. Our walk with God will become a mystery, always wondering if we are living good enough for God to like us. But if our barometer of His love is Earthly blessings, we are already trapped dogs in the cage of Satan and we don’t even know it.
Job was righteous, yet suffered. Hmmm…that reminds me of someone….oh yeah…Jesus. When Job suffered, he too thought it was unfair. He never let go of his faith in God, but the suffering revealed places where He still needed to grow in his faith and understanding of God’s character and ways. Listen to his struggle:
When I think about this, I am terrified;
trembling seizes my body.
Why do the wicked live on,
growing 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 on them.
Their bulls never fail to breed;
their cows calve and do not miscarry.
Here is the truth. The Lord knows what we need to receive the greater blessings of Heaven. Sometimes, I need to be blessed. I just need to know that God is with me and He hasn’t forgotten me. I am at a point that if I don’t see God soon, I may fall. The Lord, in His omniscience, knows this and He blesses me. But there are times when I need to go through the valley. I don’t want to, but I need to. I need suffering so that I have an opportunity to increase my faith, to learn to pray more fervently, to tighten my grip on the Lord. I will be very honest with you. I hate the valleys of life, but they are good for me that I might also enjoy the eternal blessings of increased love, joy, and peace. And if the valleys help me to do these things, are not even the valleys a blessing?
What do you do when are living right and faithful to the Lord, but the blessings are not there? Well, I know what we should do…hold on tighter and let Him prepare us for the greater blessings of eternity.
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.
His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.
One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you! ”
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.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (NIV)
Lord, I have fallen into this trap. I have been angry when You allowed me to suffer and I have been jealous when others have prospered. Today, I see that I have fallen into this trap, but by the power of Your Word, I am breaking out of this trap. Today, I promise to love you no matter what. Today, I promise to praise You no matter what. Today, I promise to only hold tighter to you in bad times and consider trials and tribulations as blessings preparing me for something greater. And I will give you the praise for the strength to do this in Jesus' name! -Amen and amen!