Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday of Trinity 23

 The Steadfastness of Job

Job 1:20—2:10 (ESV) Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
There are false teachers who teach that if you believe firmly enough in God nothing bad will ever happen to you. Try that out on Job. He suffered not because he didn’t believe enough but because he did believe. He trusted in God. He was righteous before God through faith in God’s promises. That is precisely why Job suffered. God wanted to make an example of Job, to show that Job trusted in God’s Word and not simply in all the blessings God gave him.
So one by one God lifted his protective hand from Job and permitted the devil to take away his possessions, his family, his dignity, his health. The only thing God wouldn’t let the devil touch was Job’s life. But Job didn't know that. Only we, the readers of the book of Job, know that. To all appearances, it looked to Job as if God had become his enemy. And yet Job trusted in God even when God appeared to have abandoned him and seemed to turn against him.
That’s the kind of faith that these last days of the world call for: the faith of Job that stubbornly sticks to the promises of God no matter what, come what may. It is a faith that is firmly grounded in God’s Word, a faith that knows the difference between God’s commands and His promises, a faith that clings to the cross of Christ against sin, death, and hell even when sin, death, and hell are in our own backyard and threatening to knock down the door.
St. James wrote: “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:7-11).
Prayer: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, because of Your tender love toward us sinners You have given us Your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and finally come to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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