Many of us have read about or studied Job’s suffering. We know that his wife encouraged him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). We know that his friends offered less than helpful advice.
We, and especially me, have had reason to recently consider Job’s response to his wife. In 2:10 Job says, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”
Job’s point is powerful. We want God to be good to us by giving us the things that will make our life easier. We want God to provide health care or healing that will radically improve our functionality. We want God to provide financially so that we can live at a certain standard. We want God to provide people in our lives who will care for us and uphold us. We want the Lord to ensure that our children are doing well and maintaining a positive relationship with us. And on and on that list goes.
There is nothing wrong with wanting these things. They most certainly are not sinful in and of themselves. But what if the Lord is bringing us through a period of trial in order to grow us and mature us and perfect us (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4)? What if there is more character refining that needs to occur in the crucible of challenge? What if God wants to build in us hope that does not disappoint?
At the end of Job 2:10 it says, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Job was willing to accept the blessings from the Lord. But he also recognized that he had to be willing to accept the adversity as well. The same is true for us.
Making it practical
Not long ago, I had a fascinating juxtaposition of radically different events. I learned that the Lord had used a piece I had written to offer encouragement to a young man. His father wrote me to thank me and to tell what the Lord had done. At the time, I was reading that note in a hotel room in a foreign country. Not more than 30 minutes later I received a note from our team at Faith telling me that someone had publicly posted a critical (even demeaning) comment about me. I am convinced that the Lord gave me both comments within 30 minutes because receiving only one would make it easy for me to sin. If I only received praise, I could be tempted to pride. If I only received condemnation, I could be tempted to discouragement. The two together provided a much more helpful opportunity to praise the Lord for His work and to ask the Lord to continue to grow me so that I might be more like Christ.
In the months since, the Lord has provided more of these opportunities as a ministry for us to do the same thing. Will we accept the good and not the adversity? Or, like Job, will we fully embrace both? This post is not solely about me. It has touch points for you as well. After all, you receive good and adversity too. Consider …
- If you have accepted the benefits of your company salary (the good), then are you also prepared to accept adversity within the company?
- If you have accepted the blessings from a spouse (the good), then are you also prepared to accept relationship adversity?
- If you have accepted the benefits from your church, then are you faithful to it when it experiences adversity?
- If you have accepted the blessings from your children, then are you also prepared to accept the days that are not filled with blessing?
The Lord promises many things to His people, but He does not promise that everything will be easy. When you experience adversity, avoid the mistakes of running, creating escapes, or trying to dull the difficulty. Let it produce what it was designed to produce.
Job was right, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” Help us, Lord, to be willing to accept both.