Monday, September 7, 2009

Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord

I'm doing a topical study on Satan and spiritual warfare, and today I was studying the beginning of the story of Job. In addition to what I learned about Satan and how he gets his power, I was reminded about Job's faith and his response when faced with tremendous adversity. I think we all have a lot to learn from Job and his attitude in the midst of suffering.

Let's look at what happens in Job's life, as it is reported to him almost simultaneously in the first chapter of this book:

1. The oxen and donkeys were attacked and stolen by the Sabeans.
2. The Sabeans murdered Job's servants who were with the animals.
3. Fire fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants.
4. The Chaldeans stole the camels.
5. The Chaldeans also murdered the servants who were with the camels.
6. All of his children died when a strong wind toppled the house in which they were dining.

Nothing like this has ever happened to me, and probably not to you either. Our struggles pale in comparison. But how does our response to our struggles compare with Job's? Here's what happened next:

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. Job 1:20-22

Job has just been told that many of his livestock are gone, his servants were murdered, and ALL of his children are dead. And he fell to the ground and worshiped! He blessed the name of the Lord, and did not sin nor blame God.

I can almost imagine Job singing this hymn (of course it hadn't been written yet!) or something similar as he worshiped. Job fully understood the sovereignty of God. He knew that whether the path would be smooth or rough, it would be the best for him because God had ordained it.

The story gets worse for Job. In the second chapter, Satan smites him with boils from his head to his feet. He is urged by his wife to lay aside his integrity and curse God. But he doesn't.

But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:10

He knows what happens to him is in God's hands - and he leaves it there. He doesn't choose his lot - he knows that God has a plan for what is happening in his life.

I think there are several key lessons from these two brief chapters in Job.

1. We have a choice about how we respond when faced with adversity. We can choose to grumble to ourselves, complain to others, and blame God, or we can choose to worship God as the sovereign King who has a plan for our lives; He gives, and He takes away.
2. When we grumble, complain and blame God we are sinning. When we worship, we are obeying. We can choose to sin in response to suffering, or we can choose to obey.
3. We can be an example to others of living out faithful lives in the face of adversity. When others see us handling struggles in a way contrary to the world's notion of dealing with adversity, they will see lives consecrated to God's will and purpose.
4. God is worthy of our worship and praise in all circumstances. He is in control and can be trusted as our Faithful Guide.

Whatever you're facing today, large or small, know that the God of the Universe has ordained it for you, to sanctify you and to bring glory to Himself. I encourage you to face your suffering with worship, and to say along with Job, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord!"

Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord
Words by Horatio Bonar

Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
Lead me by Thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.

Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to Thy rest.

I dare not choose my lot;
I would not, if I might;
Choose Thou for me, my God,
So I shall walk aright.

Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to Thee may seem;
Choose Thou my good and ill.

Choose Thou for me my friends,
My sickness or my health;
Choose Thou my cares for me
My poverty or wealth.

The kingdom that I seek
Is Thine: so let the way
That leads to it be Thine,
Else I must surely stray.

Not mine, not mine the choice
In things or great or small;
Be Thou my Guide, my Strength
My Wisdom, and my All.

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