"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 10, 2016
A while back I wrote a couple of newsletters about Job. His story has still been on my mind, so I'm going to write more about him this week.
It's easy to focus on everything that Job lost, because he did, in fact, lose almost everything that he owned; as well as his health. Let's read the passage of scripture regarding this, to refresh our minds:
"One day while Job's sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother's house, a messenger arrived at Job's home with this news: 'Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.' While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: 'The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.' While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: 'Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.' while he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: 'Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother's home. Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.'" Sometime later, Job developed terrible boils from head to foot. (Job 1:13-19; Job 2:7)
This is an incredible amount of loss for one person to suffer all at one time! It would be a major ordeal for someone to have to deal with any one of those losses; let alone, all of them at once.
When we face a setback or loss, it is easy to become so focused on our situation, that we fail to acknowledge what we still have. In fact, if we're not careful, our loss becomes bigger in our mind than God, because it becomes our main focus.
Let's look at what Job did NOT lose: He didn't loose his home; he didn't lose his wife; he didn't lose his friends; he didn't lose his extended family; he didn't lose all of his servants; and he didn't lose his life. God left something intact in which to bring about restoration and blessing! He does the same for us.
Shortly after Job suffered his loss, he had three friends show up. Granted, they may not have always been the biggest encouragers, but they did stay right there by his side throughout his ordeal. In fact, when they first arrived at Job's home, they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words. They came just as soon as they heard of Job's tragedy, and were there until the very end. Only close friends would be willing to leave their homes and families to sit by your side during a tragedy.
Job's oxen, donkeys, and camels were stolen; his sheep were burned up; his farmhands, shepherds, and servants were killed; and all his children were killed when the house they were in collapsed. But Job was left with his home and land. He wasn't left completely destitute without a place to live.
He was also left with some of his servants and maids; which were likely the ones who escaped to bring him news of each tragedy that occurred, as well as his house servants. They weren't respectful to Job during his time of suffering, but they were there.
In Job 19:13-19 (NLT) says, "My family is gone, and my close friends have forgotten about me. My servants and maids consider me a stranger. I am like a foreigner to them. When I call my servant, he doesn't come; I have to plead with him! My breath is repulsive to my wife. I am rejected by my own family. Even young children despise me. When I stand to speak, they turn their backs on me. My close friends detest me. Those I loved have turned against me."
Job felt as if he'd been forsaken by all of his family and friends. He was lonely, believing that every single person he loved had turned against him. Perhaps they didn't know how to respond to Job's situation, so stayed away. Sometimes we don't know what to say or do or how to react when someone has suffered a great loss; so we tend to do nothing. We have good intentions, but put off responding, thinking we "need" to, but never actually doing anything. I don't know Job's story from the perspective of his family and friends. All I do know, is that eventually they did show up.
At the end of Job's suffering, he was visited by his brothers, sisters, and former friends. Granted, they weren't there when he desperately needed their love and support, but they eventually did come bearing gifts.
"Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring." (Job 42:11 NLT)
In the middle of Job's suffering, he felt as if he had been forsaken by everyone, even God. He felt all alone. But in the end, his family and friends were restored back to him. They came to celebrate with him by feasting. They consoled and comforted him because of his trials. And they brought him gifts of money and gold rings; which likely contributed greatly to Job being able to buy more animals and hire more workers and servants; bringing restoration to his situation.
There may be times when our situation seems so dire that we feel as if we are all alone. We feel as if no one truly understands what we're going through. Our friends may try to offer encouragement and support, but their words are hurtful and disparaging. Our family may be "too busy" to spend time with us, which makes us feel as if they've forgotten about us and don't care. We may even feel as if our spouse isn't being supportive. And the real kick in the gut is, it seems as if God has turned His back on us and isn't hearing our cries. Life can be stinky sometimes! It can be heart-breaking! It can feel overwhelming and lonely!
Don't ever give up! Don't ever lose hold of your faith! When you feel at your lowest, God will strengthen you so that you can put one foot in front of the other and endure. Take a moment and take inventory of your life; looking to see what all God has left with you. You'll find that not everything is a complete loss. God has left you with something on which to rebuild.
I also believe that the latter years can be greater than the former; when we truly trust God and place Him first in our lives. But we can't expect greatness and blessing, if we are unwilling to fully surrender ourself and our situation to God. Our difficulties can be a time of maturing and growing spiritually, or it can be a time of focusing on our problem and trying to take care of it alone. We can learn to worship, even in the midst of turmoil; just as Job did. Even though Job felt forsaken and all alone at times, he chose to be upright and faithful in his relationship with God. He had moments of self-pity and despair, but he always managed to get back up and regain focus on God and get his priorities straight.
Job had no idea that God was going to bring about restoration to his situation. When he was in the midst of having lost so much, as well as suffering physically, he didn't know the outcome. He didn't know that God was going to bless him greater in the second half of his life even more than He did in the beginning. He didn't know that he was going to live a long, full life. As far as he knew, he was going to die without regaining his wealth, health, family, and friends. We can read the book of Job and know how his story ends, but he didn't know what was going to happen when he was walking through his time of testing.
When we suffer or go through times of testing or difficulties, we don't know how our story is going to end; no one does. Only God can see the future and know the outcome of each of our lives. What we can choose to do is worship and focus on God, and allow Him to strengthen and help us day by day. We can thank God for what He has left us to rebuild upon. We can allow our relationship with God to become stronger and deeper. We can consciously choose to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Honestly, that's what is the most important and what matters most. Everyone and every other blessing in our life is just gravy!
In Job 1:21, Job says, "I came naked from my mother's womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord." Job was mistaken about God taking things from him, but isn't that amazing that he could lose most of what he had, and still praise God. He is thankful that God gave him many great years with his children and livestock, but not resentful that he didn't get to keep them forever.
I had a brother-in-law who spent a year fighting with cancer before he lost his fight. We knew for a lot of that year that there was little medical hope, and most of us felt (at least partially) that God's plan didn't include a miraculous recovery either. We hoped for one, but somehow knew that God had something more important planned.
It wasn't always easy to focus on it, but we tried to enjoy that year with him. He could have left this life right away, but instead got another year with us, to help us get used to the plan ahead, to spend with him, to laugh with him, to see him with his grandchildren, and to make sure he knew we all loved him and would miss him. It was a tough year, but we were glad to have it. We were still heartbroken to lose him, but we weren't resentful of getting an extra year.
Job saw all his wealth, his family, and his friends the same way. He was grateful for the time he had with them, and when that time was over (at least for much of what he had), he wasn't resentful, even though he didn't know what would come later.
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
10 cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 jalapeno slices (canned jalapenos)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons chopped onions
Combine the ingredients in a food processor until blended (to your likeness).
Testimony time!!! Last September my sister, Janie, had a house fire that destroyed the inside. Her home had to be gutted and the entire inside rebuilt. She and Devin have been displaced for 11 months; living a few weeks in a hotel until a rental house was found, then a couple months ago the insurance allowance for a rental ran out, so she has been living with her son and daughter-in-law. For the past 3-4 months, the contractor ran into one issue after another in the renovation. The first date given Janie as a move-in date was April.... then it kept getting delayed by 2 weeks.... then another 2 weeks.... and on and on. FINALLY, the past Friday, the final city inspection was given and the approval was given for her to take up residence in her home again!! There was some dancing and excitement going on!!
For over a year and a half the deaf church that Janie has pastored has also been experiencing one delay after another with getting zoning straightened out and getting the correct permits so the church can move forward with renovations and remodeling. The church has a large metal building, that will eventually become the sanctuary, that has been setting there being unused, due to so many different permit issues. On Friday, the very same day that the final inspection was given to Janie's home and she was able to move in, a board member of the church received notification that the building permit has been approved and be ready for pick-up this week. Yes, the church can now begin to move forward!
When you learn how much you're worth, you'll stop giving people discounts. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon