Saturday, July 1, 2017
Curse God and Die
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” Job 2:9
Job is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. He is one of the most righteous people of all time, yet he was horribly afflicted by Satan. In fact, God gave Satan permission to attack Job and the first thing that Satan took away was his wealth. Successive attacks meant that his cattle, sheep, camels and all of his servants were destroyed. This was just the beginning. The devastation continued when his ten children were killed when the building they were in collapsed. To me, this would be an attack on my greatest blessing. I truly don't know how I would respond.
Job's response to losing his kids is powerful. He was devastated. He shaved his head and tore his clothes in mourning, yet he profoundly exclaimed, "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.” Job 1:21 Wow! I can't imagine. Job blessed the name of the Lord even as He knew that the Lord could have prevented the heartbreak and loss that he was experiencing.
This wasn't the response that his adversary Satan expected so he continued his attack on Job. Satan doesn't play fair. He also didn't stop his attack after taking Job's kids and his wealth, he also removed his health. Here's the Message version of Job 2:7-8 "Satan left God and struck Job with terrible sores. Job was ulcers and scabs from head to foot. They itched and oozed so badly that he took a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself, then went and sat on a trash heap, among the ashes."
Job's wife had finally had enough. She knew her husband was a person of integrity. She knew that her husband had prayed and sacrificed to God by interceding for their children every day. She was in mourning for their kids just like he was. She had lost her financial security. Her world was falling apart and finally she had enough. So she said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
The Hebrew root of the word translated "Curse" in this verse is actually "bless" - in fact the verse more literally says, “Bless not God and die." As I was looking up all the times the word Bless is used in the Old Testament- this one struck me, Job lived such a life of blessing that simply “not blessing” God would be revolutionary for him. Even after his children all tragically died, yet he still blessed the name of the Lord. I have been challenged by this conversation to make blessing the Lord such an intricate part of my life that for me to not bless would be so out of character, that it would be equivalent to cursing.
In response to his wife’s admonishment to not bless God, Job reminded her and us that if we are to accept the good from God's hand we must also accept the bad. Life does not always seem fair. When I was about five years old, I complained to my mom, “That’s not fair.” Her reply was, “It’s as fair as pork chops.” She explained that life is not fair, just as it is not fair to the pig that becomes a pork chop. Even at five years old, I wanted life to be fair.
Job was righteous and hadn’t done anything to deserve the tragedy that his life had become. Three “friends” even tried to convince him that he must have sinned or done something wrong to deserve the suffering. They wanted his suffering to be “fair,” consequences for his sins. Sometimes we are reaping the consequences of our foolish and sinful choices or we are suffering as a result of another’s sin that affects us.
I think we all are like Job’s friends and we want life to be fair. Job’s story teaches us that at any given time, life isn’t fair. In fact, Job suffered because of his righteousness. 1 Peter 3:13-17 summarizes how this relates to us, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.”
Job’s story has a happy ending. He wa blessed with ten children, numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren to the fourth generation. His wealth was far beyond what he previously had. His ability to bless God at all times, allowed him to experience the presence and voice of God in the midst of the whirlwind. Job summarizes all that he has gone through, by saying, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:5 Sometimes the greatest blessing in the midst of our greatest heartbreak is to experience the peace and presence of God in the midst of the storm.
How have you experienced the presence and voice of God in the midst of suffering?
I want every part of my life to bless God so much that not blessing would be totally out of character. Psalm 43:1 (KJV) says “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Have you found a way that blessing God at all times becomes like breathing?