Are You in the Furnace of Affliction?

126cbee9c44f9497dcd44895df12620180a7b2bf“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one that feared God, and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1) Doesn’t this sound like a fairytale? But it isn’t! Job was a real man who walked on the same earth we do!I’d like to share some definitions according to Webster’s Dictionary….

blameless: without fault

upright: having or showing a strict regard for what is morally right, honest, fair, making a conscious choice and regularly practicing what is right.

shun: to avoid deliberately and especially habitually.

If Job could live this way, without the Bible to read, then  it’s possible for us to live this way today. If it wasn’t for Job’s example, I would wonder if this kind of lifestyle is even possible in today’s world. But Job’s example gives me hope that it is possible to make good choices everyday and please God.

Job was serious about his faith. He prayed often.  He confessed not only his own sin, but for any unconfessed sin his children may have overlooked. He did all the right things and God richly blessed him with a wife, ten children, several servants, land, and thousands of animals.  He was respected and the most influential man in the East.

Life was good! Then in one single day, within minutes, without warning,  the rug was ripped out from under him and he lost almost everything he held dear in his life. Through a series of events, he lost everything except his life, his wife, and four servants.  I think the servants were only spared so they could bring him the bad news.

Job’s response to his tragedy reveals  his character and devotion to God. He fell to the ground, and worshiped. Then he said,

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Job must have been shocked and numb with grief, yet these are the words that immediately came from his lips. First, I’m amazed at Job’s impressive walk with God. Then, I’m blown away with his righteous response to adversity. But it gets even better!

No one can ignore the way all this came about. One day the angels came to present themselves to God and Satan came with them. (Job 1:6) Have you ever thought about Satan having access to God? Anyway, God asked Satan what he had been doing. (The Bible is clear that God is omniscient so He didn’t ask because He didn’t know.)

Satan said he had been walking around in the earth. I Peter 5:8 warns us to be on guard that the devil is our adversary and as a roaring lion, he walks around seeking whom he may devour. He wants to chew us up and spit us out. You can bet he is still doing that today!

God asked Satan if he had considered Job, an upright man that feared God and deliberately avoided evil. God even said there wasn’t another one like him on earth. (Job 1:8) The devil said that wasn’t anything special.  Why wouldn’t Job love God? God had protected him, blessed Job’s work and made him rich. Satan suggested if all Job’s things were gone, Job would curse God to His face. (vs. 11) So God gave Satan the go-ahead to mess with all Job’s stuff, but forbade him to touch his body. This tells us that God has power over Satan.

I don’t know about you, but this is hard for me to swallow. It appears God is ratting Job out. Why? Doesn’t God bless us for loving and obeying Him? He sure does. He had blessed Job. He blessed Abraham, but then asked him to give up his son. God has much bigger plans than we can understand.

So Satan probably quickly and happily skipped away whistling, planning how he could most torment Job. Although Satan had his hay day, Job faithfully stayed devoted to God and did not sin.

We don’t know how much time passed, but there was yet another day Satan appeared with the angels before God and the conversation was almost verbatim. (Job 2:1)

Satan told God a man would do anything to save his life and if Job’s health was gone, Job would curse God to His face. So God gave him permission to touch Job’s body, but ordered him to not take his life.

That’s when Satan gave Job boils that covered his whole body. Job was in constant torment with itching, oozing sores from head to toe.  Many of you know this truth all too well; Continual, poor health can be one of the biggest trials! It wears even the spiritually strongest people down.  It is frustrating and discouraging. But Job knew a better day was coming.  (see Job 23:10 in pic)

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Many speculate why Job’s wife was spared….maybe to further torture him.  At this point, she suggested Job curse God and die. In the first round of tragedy, Job 1:22 says, Job neither sinned or wrongly accused God in it all. However, after round two when he lost his health, Job clearly attributes his affliction to God. (Job 19) And I have to agree with him. God did allow it. So Job wasn’t wrong in saying that.

When Job’s friends came to “help” him, they just made it all worse. They reasoned that Job clearly had unconfessed sin in his life and if he would just admit it and repent, God would quit punishing him. Job assured them he had already done that. Wow! This amazes me! I don’t feel like I could ever say that I could not think of even one unconfessed sin!

In chapter 29 Job verbally makes an impressive list of how he has lived.

  • He made a covenant with his eyes to not sin with them
  • He had earned respect with those who knew him
  • He relieved the poor
  • He opened his home to travelers
  • He helped orphans, widows, and  the helpless
  • He helped the blind, lame, and abused
  • He visited the bereaved
  • He defended the weak

Job couldn’t understand why God had allowed all this turmoil and he was desperate for answers.  Job had two requests from God. (Job 13;20-22) He asked,

1) That God would lay off the afflictions

2) That God would directly address him, break the silence, and answer him

God did both.  Out of a whirlwind (storm), God asked Job a series of questions. Here are some of my favorites….

  • Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? 
  • Have you ever ordered the morning?
  • Do you know where Light comes from and where Darkness lives?
  • Have you ever been where snow is made?
  • Where do I launch the lightning?
  • Who is the father of rain and dew, the mother of ice and frost?
  • Do you know the first thing about how the sky’s constellations affect things on Earth?
  • Can you get the attention of the clouds and command a shower of rain?
  • Did you teach the eagle to build her nest on the cliff?

Job was humbled,  said he was vile, admitted he had talked too much, and would shut up and listen. God went on to say He was in charge of the universe and basically told Job that He was God and Job wasn’t. Job admitted he had second-guessed God’s purposes and was wrong for doing that and promised to never do it again.

Job repented and asked God to forgive him. God rebuked Job’s friends, but He praised Job for his honesty and sincerity. After Job prayed for his friends God restored his health and doubled his wealth and gave him ten more children. Job lived another 140 years and was able to see four generations before he died a contented, old man.

The Bible doesn’t say that Job ever got an answer to why the trials came, but after he heard from God, that was enough to satisfy him. After feeling so alone in his pain, God broke the silence. Feeling God’s presence is enough to get us through the toughest of days.

As Vance Havner said,

God marks across some of our days, ‘Will explain later.’

That “later” is sometimes not until we get to heaven.

Could it be that God knew He could trust Job to come out on top? I think so. I don’t think God just used Job to get one up on Satan. That would be sin and God is holy.  Just think of all the people down through the ages that have been encouraged by Job’s life to keep going when their world crumbled around them! His life has inspired thousands if not millions.

At the time, Job felt like no one understood and not many knew what he was going through.  He even commented, Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! (Job 19:23) Job had no idea that they WOULD be written down and that thousands would read his story, and as a result,  be inspired to trust God and cling to Him during their trials.

Are you feeling the heat from your furnace of affliction today?  Be encouraged and stay strong. God knows you can walk through this fire and come out on the other side a vessel that He can use and be glorified through. Pain is never wasted if we turn to God through it.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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3 thoughts on “Are You in the Furnace of Affliction?

  1. Good words about Job Gaye. I think the Bible would be a lot poorer if that book weren’t in it. I fills in a lot of gaps and gives us encouragement when times are tough – like with what’s happening in the world around us today :-\.

    Blessings
    Peter

    Liked by 1 person

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