He Still Holds Fast

 

Since September I’ve been settling into life with a focus on the word still. I’ve circled back to still after considering rest, pause, and quiet. Still began with the need to create margin in my schedule. As I shed each commitment, I felt lighter. It became easy to anticipate all God would do with a new year approaching.

Shortly before 2017 life was tossed upside down with one conversation. Our family will be moving soon, and that will involve new schools for the boys, a new job, new church, new stores, new routines and hopefully soon, new friends to join us on the adventure of life for awhile.

Transition does not invite being still, and I’ve wrestled with this for a few weeks now. The discipline to keep my thoughts and emotions still focused only on the day and what God would lay before me has been a challenge at some point each week. I’ve become thankful for the reminder of one word to shift my focus when it strays. The word still has become the thing that steadies me.

This week in my devotions I realized that although an aspect of the word still can involve rest, there may be another reason this particular word

Job 2:3 The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” (emphasis added)

By the beginning of Job 2, Satan has been given permission from God to do anything but touch him. All of his livestock and most of his servants are dead as well as his children. It was all taken from him in minutes. After Job is informed, he has lost everything he has one response. He worships God.

Satan approaches God and points out that Satan’s destruction has not changed Job’s heart. “upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he STILL holds fast his integrity.” The standard has been set, and it won’t ever be easy to achieve. Job responded to his wealth and family being taken away with worship.

Job didn’t have much left in the form of worldly possessions by the end of Chapter 1, but he held on to the things he did. God and his character. In his darkest time, he STILL worshiped God.

still

 

 

Shaken Expectation

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I expected my friend’s marriage of twenty-five years to last another twenty-five instead of ending in divorce.

I expected our house to sell after God cleared a path to move that was so obviously His call for us.

I expected a reconciled relationship when instead a shaming occurred.

I expected a Bible study would draw friends closer to God, not cause them to run.

I expected…

When it comes to life situations that leave me shaken emotionally, physically, spiritually or some combination there seems to be a common theme in that I had a different expectation surrounding the scenario.  In the Book of Job Chapters 3-31 reveal a conversation Job’s friends have with him in which we learn they have decided that all of the terrible things that are happening to Job (family murdered, crops destroyed, boils and much more) are occurring because of a terrible sin Job must have committed.

Job 30:20-28 (NASB)

20 “I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me;
I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.
21 “You have become cruel to me;
With the might of Your hand You persecute me.
22 “You lift me up to the wind and cause me to ride;
And You dissolve me in a storm.
23 “For I know that You will bring me to death
And to the house of meeting for all living.

24 “Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand,
Or in his disaster therefore cry out for help?
25 “Have I not wept for the one whose life is hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
26 “When I expected good, then evil came;
When I waited for light, then darkness came.
27 “I am seething within and cannot relax;
Days of affliction confront me.
28 “I go about mourning without comfort;
I stand up in the assembly and cry out for help.

Job had the expectation that because he lived his life to honor the Lord that things would his way.  Verses 30:27-28 to me reveal the depths of a man who is shaken.

Job 32 brings a new person into the discussion.  Elihu, who describes himself as young says that he has been quite because of his youth, but can no longer keep his mouth shut. (32:1-22) The Life Application Bible summary is so great here.  “Elihu said Job’s suffering would not go away until he realized his present sin. He maintained that Job wasn’t suffering because of sin, he was sinning because he was suffering.  Elihu pointed out that Job’s attitude had become arrogant as he tried to defend his innocence.  Elihu also said that suffering is not meant to punish us as much as it is meant to correct and restore us…”

Job 38:1-7  (NIV)

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

“Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?

I can’t ignore that in verse 1 here of Job 38 we learn that God answers Job “out of the storm”.  The storm of Job’s life situation that has left him crying out for God without answer, the storm of expectations broken leaving Job shaken, the physical storm the NASB version says “whirlwind” where the NIV says storm.

In chapter 42 of Job we yet another version of being left shaken in dear Job’s life:

Job 42:1-6 (NIV)

Then Job replied to the Lord:

“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”

Again Job’s expectation was shaken.  He cried out to hear God’s voice and in addition to that Job’s eyes were opened to the glory of God all around him.  His response was immediate repentance, repentance birthed out of expectation shaken deeply by God Himself.

In my weakness I find my response to hard things in life still leaves me shaken even though life experience has taught me repeatedly God always has a better plan than I can imagine.  I don’t think it is wrong to be sad when hard things happen.  Similarly to Job, when my perspective becomes tilted and I forget that God is in control even when I can’t see Him moving I need to shake off the fear and disappointment and instead trust my God who was present when the earth’s foundations were created.

I’m linking up with Suzie Eller for #LiveFreeThursday prompt:shaken