When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2
Do you have the prosperity gospel in mind? Thinking that being rich is meant for you? No, it is not important to God. Blessing to God is our faith and relationship development and deployment, and riches means the receiving of our atonement and our resulting gratitude and service to the Savior. These are far more impacting and effectual! Job challenges the mindset of the “prosperity gospel”; our suffering is not always because of God’s lack of favor.
Suffering is not always because we lack faith or don’t pray enough. God may be at work in alternative ways.
Yes, our sin and lack of faith will cause chaos; however, when we are faithful and things are not going well, please stay in prayer and keep the faith playing forward to His glory. Yes, immature and misguided people will attack you as Job’s friends attacked him; they do not know much about God and His plan and rely on presumptions and assumptions. We are to be practical, consider our ways: What we are doing, and what does the Lord require of you? Is it self-satisfaction, self-seeking, self-examination or seeking to glorify the Lord by self-surrender to His ways? Instead of confronting, be comforting (Gen. 12:1-3, 15-17; Luke 10:35; 2 Cor. 8:9, 14; Gal. 3:14; Phil. 4:6; 1 Tim. 3:3;; 6:5, 9-11; Heb. 13:5; James 4:13-16)!
We may not understand our problems or ever get a reason, as Job did not; however, we can still trust in God who loves us and is “caring” us through everything!
Do you accept His caring? It is sad how so few Christians, when faced with problems, will really seek and rely on God. It is heartrending how many-or how few–Christians respond to their brothers and sisters in peril and need. They tend to only see their situation and presumptions, cowering in bitterness and anger, even aiming that anger toward God. They do not see that He is, indeed, in control.
Thus, many Christians withdraw into isolation, bitterness, and denial, and avoid His true love and plan for them. We have to learn to learn; we have to grow, so we can grow. If not, we stagnate and our circumstances will sink us. We have been given victory! That is what the Christian experience is all about–our victory over sin and despair by what Christ has done on our behalf! If we do not declare the victory, we will only see defeat. Even though we already have the victory, we will be defeated (Psalm 71; 2 Cor. 4:7-12; James 1)!
And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. Psalm 12:6
The key word in the Bible about this is, Tested…be found, refers to a “crucible” for the refining of precious metals resulting in the quality that refinement brings. Refined refers to building character and maturity through difficulties, whereas extravagance tends to build only self-righteousness. Testing is compared to sufferings as a “crucible”–a container made from a refractory substance such as graphite or porcelain and used for melting and purifying precious metals (such as gold) at high temperatures to separate impurities so to produce a finer and more valuable material like 14-carat gold is refined into 24-carat gold.
What does this mean? We are purified and refined when we go through the effects and substances of life. These things have a purpose. Nothing happens to us without a reason that is meant to teach us and grow us as we work out our faith. This means that we are to trust in Him, not in our wealth or accomplishments. If we trust in what we have done, we are brought to complacency which creates spiritual deadness in both the believer and the church. (Job 23:10; Psalm 12:6; Prov. 17:3; Isa. 43:2; Jer. 11:4; 1 Cor. 4:3-5; 1 Pet. 1:5-7; 4:13; 5:1).
Does God test us?
But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10
God does not test us to bring us harm nor does He seek to cause us to fail. Rather, He wants to see if our faith and commitment is real. He brings us into and out of situations where we can learn and grow in faith thus receiving our reward. We can take comfort in trials, as God is ALWAYS Sovereign over them! His purpose is to refine us, form us, mold us, improve us, restore us, grow us, and strengthen us.
Trials and testing can also be used to bring us to contemplate our attitudes, mindsets, and deeds so we can seek repentance and wake up to errors, so that we seek Him.
He does this much as a loving parent disciplines a child. Other times, God tests to bring about discipline, justice, and judgment. Jews believe that suffering brings atonement, but this is not what this means; rather, faith is a precious commodity to God (Gen. 11:1-f; Deut. 8:2; 13:3; Judg. 2:22; Job. 23:10; Rom. 5:3; James 1: 2-4, 12-16; 1 Pet. 4:17; 5:1-4, 8).
The greatest comfort we have as Christians is that our lives, experiences, and opportunities are not happenstance; we have a purpose! We have a God who transcends space, time, and thought, who knows us intimately, and who has a plan for each of us (Acts. 18:21; Rom. 1:10; 15:32; 1 Cor. 4:19; 1 Pet. 3:17).
1. Why would some people really rather have a limited, imperfect perspective of life without the perfect, eternal, loving God’s insight and plan?
2. Why are some Christians obsessed over the ‘prosperity gospel’? How is this not biblical?
3. What can your church do when people are going through tough times?
4. When we go through the troubles of life, we can either take shelter in Christ or seek to go it alone in our fears and pride. What do you do? What should you do?
Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:5-7
© 2014, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org