Loss of Peace
I skirted this issue a little bit above, but it deserves another look. Job cries out that he has “no peace, no quietness, no rest but instead is only in turmoil.
The loss of spiritual peace is something that all believers legitimately fear. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid,” and in the same breath He promised, “My peace I give you.” The two are so inseparably linked that when peace vanishes, it’s inevitable that fear will take its place. For the true believer in God, this is the one crisis, the one great calamity. Let anything else happen, but not this. It doesn’t matter if my entire life falls apart, so long as I have peace. Yet, peace is precisely what was taken from Job. This is what he identifies as the greatest of his tragedies and the real nub of his anguish.
As Christians, we should ask ourselves what sort of things we complain about, and what causes us the greatest pain and fear. When we suffer, do we truly know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings? Or is our suffering only that which all the rest of the world experiences: the physical pains of a decaying body, the neurotic fears of a fallen mind, and the infinite gnawing angst brought on by selfishness and sin?
Novelist Walker Percy, on the opening page of The Second Coming, says this about his main character: “For some time he had been feeling depressed without knowing why. In fact, he didn’t even realize he was depressed. Rather was it the world and life around him which seemed to grow more senseless and farcical with each passing day.” In this chapter, Percy has captured something of the essence of contemporary civilization. If only more people would complain and protest bitterly against the absence of peace with God!
Unfortunately, even many Christians do not seem to hold peace of heart in very high esteem. Instead, we make our peace with the gods of overwork, anxiety, and quiet desperation. Too often, a peaceful life is sacrificed for the sake of other goals: career, worldly accomplishments, entertainment, people-pleasing, the satisfaction of frantic activity, and other frivolities. We get used to living with chronic restlessness, even to the point of mistaking it for peace. What happens is we need to take a vacation—an opportunity to “get away from it all,” to relax. Yet, Christ has called us to celebrate the “Year of Jubilee” every day of our lives. You can read the twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus to see the significance of the Jubilee year. Think of it, every fiftieth year was a year of Jubilee, a time when all work was to stop, all debts were cancelled, and all property was to be returned to the rightful owner. It was to be a year of celebration and peaceful living. Interestingly, in it’s entire history, Israel never once celebrated the great Jubilee. Hey, good news for you, Jesus is the Jubilee!
Now this guy Job was a man who had a firm and intuitive grasp of the principle set out in Isaiah 32:17: “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” Since Job knew he was a righteous man, where then were the peace and confidence that were his due? Throughout the debate with his friends, Job will repeatedly claim these clear terms of his covenant with the Lord, and yet at the same time he wastes no breath trying to claim anything that the Lord has not promised him. He insists on spiritual rights, not worldly rights, and it is this very insistence that makes of him a great man of faith. He holds God to His Word, and no more.
If you are interested, you can download the whole study of Job.
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