Righteously Responding to God’s Refinement, Pt. 1
An American pastor sat down with a group of Romanian pastors who has just been released from prison for preaching the gospel. As they sat at supper, each pastor told of his ministry and of how he was imprisoned and tortured for remaining faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. At the end of his story, one of the pastors across the table looked over to the American pastor and said in a broken, yet stern voice, “You Americans, you waste your trials!”
How true the statement by that old Romanian pastor was! Americans do many times waste the trials that God sends to them. Many times when bad things happen to good, godly people, the first question out of the mouth of folks around him is the question, “why?” Why did that circumstance take place or why did that person have to die that way? The questioning of God and His ways almost always takes center stage. What do you do when bad things happen to good people?
The book of Job was written in part to help give answers to that question. It was not written to answer the question of why people suffer or why people go through the problems. In fact, God never promises nor does he owe us an answer as to why those things happen to people and he never gave Job a reason either. The message of Job rings loud and clear in that there are lessons that we need to learn if we are going to respond correctly when God chooses to refine us. Bad things (trials) happening to you can either be destructive to your life or they can be constructive to your life. The question that needs to be asked is which one is it going to be? Remember that God is omniscient meaning that He knows all things including all of man’s responses. He has a sovereign will for every man and He will do whatever is necessary to accomplish His will. We must understand that God in His sovereignty can do whatever He desires in our lives to make us what we need to be and will always to so within the full scope of his love as our Heavenly Father.
Let’s take a look at some responses to the trials that God allows us to encounter. Understand that our reaction to those trials will cause us to become closer to and more like Christ or they will cause us to become bitter and eventually ruin our life. There are several ways that we can react to the trials in our life. The very first of those possibilities that a person faces are of a destructive nature. These responses can hurt a person rather than help them due to the fact that they can become bitter at the situation that God has given them. I want to mention just one of those responses in this post.
There is the temptation to complain about circumstances. The book opens by introducing Job to us. He was a wealthy man and a man who feared God and hated evil (Job 1:8). Satan comes to appear before God and Job becomes the topic of conversation. Knowing the heart of Job, the Lord has confidence that Satan cannot win a victory no matter what takes place in Job’s life. Satan on the other hand believes that Job will forsake God if there is a change in his welfare and circumstances. The challenge is on—what will Job do? After Satan takes away all that Job owned and kills his family, the Bible says that Job was still faithful to his God. Satan’s next idea is to take away Job’s health—that for sure will cause him to turn away from the Lord. God allows Satan to smite Job’s body with boils and sores from head to toe. It is after all of this that we find Job sitting and complaining in Job 3. The entire chapter is given to the complaints of Job because of what was taking place in his life.
Job’s response here is a good example of one of the dangers in trials…the temptation to complain about what God is doing. There is no longer the focus toward Heaven. Instead the focus is turned upon self and the situation that is at hand. Job was not the first person in the Bible to react this way. The Children of Israel complained and murmured when they didn’t like what God was doing in their lives after the exodus from Israel. Notice some of the times:
- Exodus 15:24—they murmured against Moses
- Exodus 16:2—they murmured against Moses
- Exodus 17:3—they murmured against Moses
- Numbers 14:2—they murmured against Moses
Numbers 14:29—they murmured against God (they were punished)
James 1 tells us that we as Christians need to count it all joy when trials come upon us (James 1:2-4). We are not to complain and focus on ourselves during those times. We are to rejoice knowing that God is doing something in our lives and He has our good in mind whenever he sends trials (Romans 8:28-30). That is a wonderful blessing and we need to keep it in mind. Don’t complain about your circumstances. Ask God to help you to become more like Christ through the trial and rest in His sovereign control of your life this week!