“Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.
But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.”
The Story Goes On . . .
Once again there was a day when the angels came to present themselves before the Lord and once again Satan appears in their midst. He is not at all abashed over his failure to prove his accusations of Job.
You hear a discourse between the Lord and the adversary that is similar to their previous one. This time, however, the Lord adds that Job “still maintains his integrity, even though you incited me against him to ruin him without reason.”
That alone should silence all of the Bible commentators that charge Job with the blame for his troubles. Jehovah declares before His entire council that all of these trials were sent on Job “without reason.” His confidence in Job’s integrity, and faithfulness to Him, had been justified. His servant had stood the test! It was fully proved to the accuser that his sneering insinuation as to Job’s motives in serving God was unfounded.
However, as is always the case, the adversary was not satisfied. He had a new argument: All the things that had been taken away did not really touch Job himself. They were external things. Now granted, the children were of his bone and of his flesh, but he knew they also belonged to God along with all the wealth he had received. Therefore, he surrendered them to Him, although it was with great pain and sorrow.
If you will remember, though, the Lord prevented Satan from touching Job, himself. Therefore, as the advocate argues, the case was not proved. The test had not been sufficient because it is easy to let go of things as long as they do not really touch the individual.
As much as I hate to admit it, I have to be honest and say I can certainly understand his argument, and I am sure the heavenly hosts standing by could, also. If someone loses a home in a storm, such as a tornado, they are shocked and dismayed but they go on, possibly to rebuild. I have heard about many who made bad financial investments and literally lost everything, filed bankruptcy and left with nothing. Despite their loss, they maintained their general health, recovered their losses and went on with life.
Certainly, many weak individuals have taken their lives over less, but most would recover, pick up the pieces and move on, usually stronger and wiser than before.
Howard Ruff, in his book Making Money wrote this in a chapter entitled Going for Broke:
“We hear a lot of pitiful stories in the ‘War Room’ from people who have been forced into bankruptcy or who have been defrauded out of large sums of money . . . They are devastated. Their self-image is shattered, their morale is destroyed and they feel scarred for life . . . I have learned that failure is not only not the end of the world, but that, when properly managed, recovery and rehabilitation can become an exhilarating, even euphoric, experience. There is nothing more exciting than picking yourself up and proving that your failure was merely a freak happenstance, one of those things that doesn’t need to be explained or excused.”
In the introduction of the same book, Ruff also confessed that after losing his business, accumulating a debt of over a half million dollars, and suffering the death of his 21 month-old son, that “it was at times like that you find out whether or not your beliefs are bone-deep or skin-shallow.”
This is certainly true when your health is maintained. However, when someone’s health is taken from them, it is difficult (although not impossible) to stand. It is so easy to be strong and confident when you are without any pain, but it sure is hard when your flesh is crying out in agony. Think how listless, and burned out you feel with something as simple as a head cold. Can you imagine being attacked with sore boils from head to foot?
When it comes to the topic of physical pain, when you aren’t the one actually experiencing the pain, you can entertain all kinds of noble theories about it. As long as it is happening to someone else, pain is just an abstraction, an unfortunate blight on an otherwise tolerable world. But, boy, oh boy, as soon as the Devil so much as touches your own body the whole picture changes. At that point suffering becomes an enormous, concrete reality so overwhelming that it has the power to engulf every thing else. So unless you are a “Jack Bauer” type, pain is going to stop you in your tracks
There are all kinds of examples describing what happens when strong, intelligent, self-assured people are suddenly caught in the grip of acute pain. Many believers are able, by God’s grace, to bear enormous burdens of physical pain with dignity and even with joy. On the other hand, when a smaller degree of pain is applied to another believer, who may be just as godly, it can be enough to plunge them into depression or make them lose all control and whimper and scream for mercy. When King Hezekiah was struck with sickness, he “turned his face to the wall” and “wept bitterly.” He simply couldn’t take it.
Just as in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, the Devil quotes God’s own law to Him: eye for eye, tooth for tooth, and “skin for skin.” It is almost as if Satan overheard Job’s lofty thoughts concerning man’s humble status of utter nakedness before the Lord. Then determines to take him at his word and make him more naked still, tearing off even his bare flesh and flaying him alive.
Therefore, Satan proposes a deeper test. “Just touch Job himself and see if he will still cling to you! See if in the furnace of suffering whether he will renounce his allegiance to you. Maybe he didn’t serve you because of the gifts you gave, but he still has a clear conscience of a life void of sin, the inward peace of your presence, the reward of other people’s respect. You take those things away and he will have nothing left. And he will curse you to your face.”
The Lord looks around, maybe a little disgusted with the accuser’s persistence, but says “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
So if you find yourself with your face “turned to the wall” and “wepping bitterly,” stand strong in your God–your Father. Don’t give into the depths of despair and surrender your peace to the enemy of your soul.
If you are interested, you can download the whole study of Job.
Other Bible Studies and Commentary are available at Doulos Studies.