4.24.2008

THE GIFT OF PAIN / MAKE ANGELS CHEER

I have been reading the book of Job in my morning times with God, and so in my quest to better understand the book, I came across a series of sermons on the book by John Piper, author of Desiring God. Here's an excerpt from one:

What we have seen so far, then, is that Job's suffering has a twofold explanation: its purpose at the outset was to demonstrate God's value and glory, and its ongoing purpose was to refine Job's righteousness. His suffering is not punishment. It is not a sign of God's anger. Job's pain is not the pain of the executioner's whip but the pain of the surgeon's scalpel. The removal of the disease of pride is the most loving thing God could do, no matter what the cost.

Remember the words of the Lord: Better to suffer the excruciating pain of a gouged out eye than to let any sin remain in your heart. If this does not seem obvious to you—namely, that sanctification is worth any pain on this earth—it is probably because you don't abhor sin and prize holiness the way God does and the way you should. Let us examine ourselves carefully at this point.


Indeed, it seems human nature to question the Almighty and/or oneself "when bad things happen to good people." Is it punishment for bad we've done? Have I somehow merited God's anger? Is God capricious, impotent, or, even worse, just plain mean and heartless?

When God arrives on the scene, 38 chapters into a 42 chapter book, He does not reply to Job or his friends. No, He's the one asking questions, most along the lines of: "Can you do what I do?" Rightly humbled, Job can only answer: "No, I can't. I am not God. You are."

When we experience pain or see our loved ones go through it, it is possible to accept it as a gift from a God who so loves us that He will "operate on us," to use Piper's analogy. We may never get our answers on this side of glory, but we can trust in a God who is thoroughly and profoundly in charge, a God who thoroughly and profoundly loves us.

However circuitous or a tumultuous a road we take to get to that place of comfort and assurance, we can be there, even on this side of glory. And when we have those moments of quiet but steely trust in God, we make angels cheer, or so says Piper:

Picture Satan in heaven surrounded by 10,000 angels awaiting Job's response. Then Job answers, and, unknown to him, 20,000 arms are raised and 10,000 mighty voices shout, "Worthy is the Lord God of Job!" And what does Satan do? He flees from the presence of the praise of God.
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