"The Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.' Then Satan answered the Lord, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.'” Job 1:8-11
We are all familiar with the massive suffering experienced by Job. It is a biblical truth that God gave His consent for Satan to afflict him. The reason why this was allowed makes for a very long, complex and potentially controversial discussion and is not the focus of today's message. Instead, let us consider how suffering that is not specifically brought about by our own sin affects our relationship with God.
It is easy to praise and worship God when things are great. When we are comfortable, fed, reasonably prosperous and happy, we give God all the praise. But what about when we are afflicted, fired, hungry, suffering from the pain of a broken relationship or death of a loved one? Are we so quick to praise God then? Do we lift our hands and hearts to Him come what may?
Beloved we must be aware of the dangers associated with a conditional faith. God is not a slot machine, a genie or some mythical magical creature whose sole reason for existing is to make our lives warm and fuzzy. He is the Sovereign Lord and Creator of all things. Sovereign means that He is the absolute authority and owes explanation to no one. And if we had to put a label on Him for the purposes of this discussion, He is a parent. And as a parent, He provides for all of our needs and so many of our wants. But He also says "no," provides discipline, tests us and sometimes puts us in the uncomfortable position of having to grow and mature in our faith in Him through difficult circumstances and situations. We can all remember tough lessons learned while growing up that gave us a greater appreciation for our parents and the perspectives they constantly tried to instill in us.
Job remained faithful while enduring the most crippling losses imaginable. And he did so without fully understanding why these things were happening. His attitude was exemplified by the statement, “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,” Job 1:21. From this example, we must all ask ourselves if our faith is based on comfort and things or our relationship with our Father. Further, can our faith withstand tough times? Surely they will come. Be encouraged to remain with God regardless of ever changing circumstances. And also remember that Job's end was vastly better than his beginning.