The LORD Gives And The LORD Takes Away

13 11 2007

The following is an article that JT wrote for FBC West Memphis’s church newslettter (FBC is Grace’s local sponsoring church):
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The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
May the name of the LORD be praised
Job 2:21-NIV
Horatio Spafford wrote the famous hymn, “It is Well.” He wrote it out of deep pain and suffering. His son died in 1871. His livelihood was lost in the great Chicago fire. On top of that, all four of his daughters drown in the Atlantic Ocean in a shipwreck in 1873. His wife broke the horrific news to him through her now famous telegram, “Saved alone.” His hymn is his response to it all. You know how it goes… “When peace like a river… When sorrows like sea billows roll… Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say… It is well, it is well with my soul.” Spafford knew suffering. More importantly, Spafford knew God (John 17:3).

You can’t sing the biblical meaning of “It is well” without also believing that God is responsible for the suffering. How else can we obey the will of God by “giving thanks in everything” (1 Thess. 5:18)?

It is unlikely that any of us have—or ever will—suffer like Spafford. It is even less likely that we will suffer extensively like Job. But, like Spafford, when the report came to Job that all of his livestock had been stolen or killed, his servants (save three) captured or killed, and that all ten of his children had been killed, Job immediately worshiped God (Job 1:20-21). Worshiped God? For suffering? Yes! Would that be my response? Would it be yours? In an instant, when Job’s world came crashing down, he humbly worshiped and asked, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). Accept trouble from God?

Some want to excuse God from pain and loss by believing that He had nothing to do with it? Others will want to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Biblically speaking, neither response is appropriate.

This fall at Grace Church we are on a mission to worship God by forgetting about God. I mean we are seeking to forget what we’ve always thought to be true about God…while, on the other hand, we are seeking to embrace—with big-hearted faith—all that God has said to be true about Himself in the Bible. That would be a brief synopsis of our current sermon series: God: The Greatest of All. Please pray for us to know Him (John 17:3) and to believe Him (John 6:29).

Speaking of believing God, have you ever noticed that Job 2:10 concludes by stating, “…In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” The “all this” is significant because in the previous breath Job attributed both his prosperity as well as his sufferings to…GOD! Also, in Job 1:22, the bible states, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Wait a minute! Did you catch that?

While it may be logical for us to suppose that blessings come from God, while adversity comes from Satan, that line of thought is simply unbiblical (Lamentations 3:38; Amos 3:6; Isaiah 45:7). That is a staggering truth!

When it comes to man’s standard of “fairness,” the world looks horribly backwards. We don’t have to look far to find that the wicked often prosper (Psalm 73), while the righteous often suffer (Just think of Christ’s sufferings! —Hebrews 12:2-3). But “fairness” is the last thing man wants from God. We have all sinned and fallen short of His well-deserved glory (Rom. 3:23). All of us are doing better than we deserve! Do you believe that?

At the very least, the bible demonstrates that God was not a passive bystander in Job’s troubles. Not at all! (Job 1:8, 12; see also, 1:11; 2:5). At the conclusion of Job’s story, after his fortune is restored, the account again clarifies that GOD was the responsible Agent in Job’s sufferings: “All [Job’s] brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him…” (Job 42:11). Did you catch that? The LORD brought “all” of Job’s trouble upon him.

How will you respond to adversity and suffering? Will you (unbiblically) suppose, “God had nothing to do with it?” Or, will you give God the credit for your pains—believing that He is giving you an opportunity to fellowship more deeply with Christ (Phil. 3:10)? More than that, will you continue to worship Him for causing the trials (Job 1:20; Genesis 50:20)? God gives grace for this (1 Pet. 4:11).

Worshiping God. That is the crux of the matter. Even if our life’s lot is difficult, the sheer fact that we are not objects of God’s righteous wrath is entirely owing to His grace and mercy. Each person is a monster of iniquity. Only in the gospel of Jesus Christ do we have hope for receiving the favor of God. Are you clinging to Jesus alone for acceptance with God? This life is a vapor, and will be gone tomorrow. Is Jesus your greatest Treasure?

I know this isn’t easy. But it is biblical. And clinging to Christ during trials demonstrates the beauty of Christ to the world. As we cling to Jesus no matter what “sea billows” may roll, God is glorified.

My prayer for you and I is that we, along with Job and Spafford, will respond all of life (including suffering) by worshiping God (Job 1:20)! The thing which ultimately sustained Job was a great view of God (Job 38-42). God is our greatest need. Not comfort. In truth, the good pleasure of God usually works so that most of the Christian’s “rejoicing” is also mingled with deep “sorrow” (2 Cor. 6:10; Ps. 30:5).

Please continue to pray for Grace! We love you all.

Praying with you, for Christ to be displayed in our lives as the Great Treasure that He is, John 3:30

Jordan

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