Most of us, at some point in our life and especially with these long months of government lockdowns, will suffer disappointment and hurts. Job losses, broken relationships, unruly children, sickness, bereavement, disabilities, and a host of other things can cause us to suffer from stress and anxiety.
How do you react to these things in your life? Do you harbour bitterness toward the Lord for these things?
Of all the great books of the Bible the book of Job best demonstrates the adversities we can face, and we can learn a lot from Job’s reactions.
In Job 1:13-20 we read of the losses Job suffered. Here is a man who lost his livestock, his servants, and all his children. Yet in vs 20 we read ‘The Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground and worshipped.’ (the renting of his garment and the shaving of his head were the usual expressions of sorrow at that time). Despite all that he had just lost he worshipped the Lord!
Job was tested further with sore boils covering him from head to toe. His wife exhorts him to curse God, yet Job maintains his faith and will not speak against the Lord. Job mourned and wept before the Lord, but he never cursed the Lord for his suffering. Could we endure such things and continue to worship the Lord? Is the name of the Lord a continual word of joy on our lips?
It’s easy to become angry with the Lord, and within reason it’s a normal reaction under stressful circumstances, but when that anger becomes a deep-rooted bitterness that consumes our thoughts and so a barrier is created between us and the Lord.
When we go through these things the Lord is there to comfort us and sustain us. Isaiah 26:3 says ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee’; but do we really trust Him to comfort us. Are we holding on to the promises of God’s Word? If we know in our hearts and profess with our mouth that God is the same yesterday, today and forever then we must trust that whatever happens in our life He is able to give us comfort and peace.
When we go through life’s trials we need to fall before the throne of grace and ask for the Lord’s comfort. He has promised it to us, and He can be counted upon to keep His promises. If we reject his mercy and comforting hand that gives the devil a foothold into our lives.
This is the root of bitterness. 1 Peter 5:7-10 shows us how the Lord cares for us and the dangers of not trusting in that care, 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
These wonderful verses are filled with promise, but our duty is to remain obedient and steadfast, and like Job not cursing the name of the Lord in our affliction.
When we begin to harbour anger and bitterness the devil is waiting to pounce. He is watching and waiting for an opportunity to make us doubt God’s providence and sovereignty.
Therefore, there is such importance on having a deeply personal, day by day, moment by moment walk with the Lord. We must desire to grow closer to the Lord and in order to do this we must be communing with Him giving Him the rightful position of Lord of our whole hearts and whole lives.
Our life must be a continual offer of worship to the Lord our King. When we fully surrender ourselves to the Lord our hearts are softened, and we can more fully trust in God’s divine plan regardless of personal circumstances.
When we are steadfast in our faith, we can be assured of two things.
Firstly, we know that these tribulations lead to our refining, moulding us into a more useful vessel for the Lord. Job came to this conclusion too. Job 23 10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold’. We must trust that the Lord will use all circumstances to His glory and for the benefit of the others. Romans 5:1-5 promises that all these things work together to teach us to trust and to rely on the Lord more readily.
Secondly, these things also work for our future glory in heaven. Our suffering and tribulation here is but for a moment and the purpose of all these things will be revealed when we are in glory!
2 Corinthians 4 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
When we feel overwhelmed by circumstances and situations we must hang on to the promises of God and not allow the devil a foothold in our lives.
Remember Job’s words in chapter 1 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of our wonderful Lord in whom we can have the hope of eternal hope and glory.