Reading in the book of Job, we see a righteous man, allowed to suffer at the hands of the Adversary.  From man’s perspective, Job did not deserve the calamities that were upon him, nor would he have desired them. However, his happiness was not based on earthly possessions, for he could say in all truthfulness … “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:21-2:1 KJV).  Of course, some of Job’s friends did not hold the same spiritual perspective as him.  Their mindset was to judge rather than encourage, believing that when someone underwent suffering, it was evidence that they were under discipline and out of the will of God.  Unfortunately too many Christians today think that way.  Christianity is not a health and wealth religion; just ask the thousands who are suffering oppression, persecution and even death at the hands of evil doers and false religion.  If discipline is being administered to a child of God by the divine Judge, that suffering is known to that individual and serves as a grace measure to bring that person to the point of repentance and restoration to fellowship. However, suffering can be for divine blessing.  A correct understanding of suffering is given to us by James in his short epistle.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).  But God – “I do not want to experience suffering!”   The apostle presents his case as if he was a body builder, and surely he was -- a spiritual Body builder.  The difficulties of life cannot be avoided for Job reminds us that “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).  Such a thought can bring a fatalistic and depressing view of life when that which is spiritual is omitted.  But while Job recognizes that pressures and obstacles must be faced in life, he turns his thinking from self and those adversities which surround him and in the future to each of us to that sublime and radiant promise that there is One who cares for His own more than we can for ourselves.  Job reveals the key to gaining victory and blessing in times of trouble … “But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 5:8-9).  The Apostle Peter addressed the testing of the believer’s faith when he wrote to the dispersed Jews of the first century.  “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if [since] necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation [deliverance] of your soul” (1 Peter 1:6-10).  Job, separated in time from Peter by four thousand years, knew that those who would place their faith in the coming Savior would possess the same salvation as those in the first century who believed that Christ died on Cross, was buried and rose again so that man’s sin debt to a righteous God was fully satisfied. Thus when adversity comes, we can say with Job … “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity” (Job 2:10)?  No!  Rather than complain, even cursing God as Job was advised to do, we can take the admonition of the Apostle Peter to … “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

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