Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spiritual Warfare -- Part Two


Did I mention that our car is breaking down? There is something wrong with the rack and pinion system in our car, and although it is still drivable, the power steering fluid leaks right out so we are often driving without power steering.

Not impossible. But really hard. Especially if you're in your seventh month and can barely fit behind the wheel, let alone find the space and strength to wrestle an almost 5000 pound beast around every corner.

And it's not just the car. The beast represents so much to me right now ... it's my car that's no longer trustworthy. It's the hope of a new car (long story) that is always looming just over the horizon, visible but out of reach. It's the fact that this is just another burden on the list, another battle in the war ... Another Brick In The Wall?

I feel like Job right now. In the beginning of the book of Job, you meet a man who is righteous and faithful to God. He gives his sacrifices, he takes care of his family, and he is blessed. But Satan doesn't like it and basically says to God, "Ya know, Job's only your pal because you protect him. You've blessed him with herds and children and a great home, and all is well for him. But stop coddling him, start challenging him ... and he will surely turn on you because he is not truly as righteous as he seems."

And God said, "Ok, you hit him a little, beat him up, challenge him. Test him. But don't hurt him. And we shall see." So Satan attacked Job and his family with a vengeance. In one fell swoop he lost his children, his herds, and his servants. All of them. Dead. Gone. That meant that not only had he lost his loved ones, but his means of supporting himself as well. After all, his animals were either dead or stolen ... therefore, he could not eat them, could not sell them ... could not even offer them as sacrifices. His whole life, everything he knew, gone in an instant.

But what did he say? Job 1:20-22 tell us, "At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.' In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing."

It says, "In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." I need to remember that whether or not I am tested, there is a reason in God's mind for it. Perhaps it is to teach me something. Maybe I am learning to be more fully trusting right now. Maybe I am learning to call on God in my times of need, learning to not be afraid to pray for myself as well as others. Maybe he is reminding me, "Ask, and you shall receive." But in the end, though God may have allowed this hard time to come ... He will also use it for good in the end.

But that's not the end of Job's story. Next Satan speaks with God who remembers Job's faithfulness and praises him a bit for being able to praise God even in hard times. But Satan says, "Oh please. Men are selfish, all of them. He would lose all that he had to keep his own life. But let me take away his health and well-being. Then he will show you his true colors ... he will turn on you for sure."

And God allowed it. He said to Satan, "All right ... But don't kill him." So Satan went to Job, and caused him to break out in sores. Now this man has lost his children, his financial ability, his riches, his home, his comforts. He's lost everything. Even his wife taunts him for remaining faithful and trusting in God, but Job 2:10 gives his response to her: "He replied, 'You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?'"

Because life isn't all about the good things. I've learned so much of who I am from all the troubles I've lived through. I've learned to be afraid from being beaten as a child by an abusive step-father. But I also learned to be gentle with those who are smaller and less able than I am. I've learned to be afraid of money from being raised by my mother who didn't understand how important it is to actually pay bills when they come in. But I also learned to be responsible for my financial actions, I learned to budget my money, and I learned that I want to raise my children with security. I learned from having my heart broken that all people are not trustworthy, that everyone doesn't always have an inner good, but I also learned to trust my instincts when it comes to trusting people and giving my heart freely to anyone who seems to want it. So I have to remember that even when I struggle, even when my family struggles, there is not only a problem to be dealt with. There is also a lesson to be learned, and a God to be trusted.

Even Job's friends took pity on him, and sat beside him silently while he mourned.

The story continues...