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Monday, January 11, 2016

Faith Kicks In

Clouds prevent the light of the sun, ever-shining, from passing through. Clouds don’t remove the sun, they just dim its light. Eliphaz uses this analogy to shed light on how men respond to suffering, “Is not God in the heights of heaven? And see how lofty are the highest stars! Yet you say, ‘What does God know? Does He judge through such darkness? Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us as he goes about in the vaulted heavens’” (Job 22:12-14).  Suffering acts like a cloud barrier and blocks sight of the goodness of God. 
Though God doesn’t speak to Job just yet, suddenly his faith kicks in, “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Atta boy, Job! He pushes through the dark clouds by faith. When questions arise and remain unanswered, when the way still seems unclear Job goes back to what He knows is true about God: He knows! He sees. Truth calms his fears. Truth trumps darkness. Every time.
Earth's view of eternal matters is like a one-way mirror. On the other side of that mirror dwells the All-seeing One. He never sleeps nor slumbers. Though we may not see Him, we are never out of His sight. Faith "kicks in" when we apply this truth found in other Scripture:

"For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths" (Proverbs 5:21).

"The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3)

"And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account" (Hebrews 4:13).

Someone once said, “Never doubt in the dark what you know is true in the light”. Wise words for those who cannot break through the clouds of darkness in their own lives. He knows. He sees. He can be trusted. Let the clouds remain. Behind them shines the sun, ever so brightly. 

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"But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10)

How much do I need to know  about God to live happily and peaceably? How much is enough? Job couldn't perceive God ahead, behind, to the left or to the right. He couldn't see God at all. But God sees him. That's all that he knows and that is enough. Job, like a blind man navigating his way with the use of a simple cane, relies upon the unseen hand of God to lead him through the darkness of his suffering. Faith in God is the cane that guides his way.

Job's words of trust/confidence in God reminds of the story of Hagar when she flees the ill treatment of Sarah and finds herself alone, afraid, and seemingly abandoned in the wilderness. She discovers, however, that she is not alone, nor has she been abandoned; the Angel of the Lord appears to protect, provide, and prompt her to return to her mistress. She names the place where she encounters the Angel of the Lord Beer Lehai Roi which means "the well of the One who sees me". Isaac waits at the same well for Eleazar to return with a wife for him. They both discover that they can trust the God they cannot see because the God they cannot see reveals that He sees them.

The more strident his friend's accusations become the more they test Job's confidence in God. Job professes his faith in the Unseen One and he rests his case with the One he knows to be just. Thus his statement in 23:10 is an affirmation of his faith in God.

Job illustrates the truth that every Christian will face, what Henry Blackaby calls a crisis of faith. This crisis of faith will demand confidence in God who knows the way that I take and the intended purpose of my suffering.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Job 22:1-26:14
  • What does Eliphaz imply about Job's treatment of others?
  • What does Eliphaz recommend Job do to have God's favor restored?
  • Why is Job so frustrated with Eliphaz's counsel?
  • What is the one thing that Job desires from God?
  • How does Job describe the wicked and how does he use this to defend himself?
  • What does Bildad say about the righteous and how does this relate to Job's situation?
  • How does Job respond to Bildad?
  • Which attribute of God does Job describe?
  • Why does meditating on the power of God embolden faith in God?
Turning truth into prayer
I received my quarterly annuity statement in the mail yesterday and I haven't bothered to open it. Why? I really don't want to know how much my retirement plan has suffered during the downturn in the economy. When what we see and trust in collapses we enter a crisis of faith. Will I trust God? Ask the Lord to help you function from faith rather than sight. Ask Him to help you appropriate the truth of His presence and care.