The following is an excerpt from my writings on the book of Job. I thought it might be appropriate reading for this week before Easter.
"His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die" He replied, You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"
Once again we find Job in a somewhat impossible situation. It seems that he is now covered with boils ... head to foot ... boils. Ever had a boil? How about a little bug bite? Annoying to say the least. Well Job's boils were painful. It says that "he took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes". I cringe just thinking about it. Ever picked on a sore? Feels good for an instant then it hurts all over again ... not fun.
The source of the boils is, as before, Satan. He once again came into the Lord's presence. "The Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without reason." "Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face."
Well God again permitted Satan to trouble Job ... only this time the object of his attack was on Job's very body. Escalation! I think that it is important to note that if Satan can't cause us to fall in one area he will intensify his efforts. He will get personal. His goal is to cause Job, and all who call themselves believers, to curse God to His face.
Job's response is amazing. Understanding the sovereignty of God he recognizes that both good things and bad are sifted through the loving hands of his Creator. I for one do not always react that way ... I find myself throwing a spiritual tantrum when I start hurting ... picking on my sores ... giving in to feelings of bitterness ... cursing God in my own way. Job challenges me. From the pages of scripture I read and I stand in awe of this giant of a man.
What then was Job's secret? I believe it can be summed up in one word. Acceptance. A difficult word ... especially when it involves hurting. We often play mind games with ourselves. We convince ourselves, even using the scripture to support our "position", that it is NEVER God's will that we hurt. Sad. I think that it is in acceptance that we gain strength. We solidly affirm our trust in the Almighty when we accept His dealings in our life.
The following is a passage from my life that I write to convey the principle of acceptance. When I wrote Chapter One almost ten years ago my view of acceptance was quite different than it is now. At thirty-nine years old my wife, Ellen, had heart and kidney failure ... at the brink of her death I found myself begging God to not let her die ... I could not accept her situation or the possibility of her death. Three and a half years later after praying almost daily for her healing ... never giving up ... I found myself again faced with the possibility of her dying. Driving to work one day ... racked with the agony of thoughts of a world without Ellen … I began to pray in the Spirit. I saw a picture in my mind. In this vision I saw myself standing on a mountain looking down at a valley ... some how I knew it was the valley of the shadow of Ellen's death. As I looked into the vision I saw Jesus come to my side, take my hand, and walk with me into the valley. It was a comforting picture. God was trying to tell me that he would be with me when Ellen died and that I would be ok. I had peace about her dying but I still would not give in - I couldn’t accept death as God’s will ... I still prayed daily for her healing. It took about six months for acceptance to take hold of me. A month before Ellen died I found myself praying a prayer of both acceptance and release. I released Ellen into His hands and said that whatever He wanted was OK with me. It was one of the toughest prayers that I have ever prayed.
Acceptance. Not my will but Your will be done. Almost trite. But it is in the times that you find yourself covered with the boils of worry, fear, agony, sorrow and pain that the power of acceptance can take over. The night before he would die a horrible death on a cross Jesus Christ knelt to pray in the garden of Gethsemane. Seeing that the cup of death was near, Jesus prayed "Father, if you are willing take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done". After that prayer of acceptance in the garden ... accepting the fate of three nails and a cross ... we find that Jesus moved with much strength through a time of great suffering and trial. Our lesson ... trust is only trust when it involves acceptance of things that we don't understand ... things that fly in the face of our belief system ... in the face of the way we think that things should be ... accepting trouble, as well as good, from the loving hands of God.