Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The good old days: Job 29:2-6

"Oh that I were as in months gone by, as in the days when God watched over me; when His lamp shone over my head, and by His light I walked through darkness; as I was in the prime of my days, when the friendship of God was over my tent; when the Almighty was yet with me, and my children were around me; when my steps were bathed in butter, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!" (Job 29:2-6)
(Say what you want, Job was living an Atkins friendly life; no low fat, low calorie life for him; he was enjoying the low carb lifestyle that was bathed in butter!)

Job was reminiscing about the former days of his life, when times were good. When everything seemed to go his way. Life was easy, God was near, and every work of his hand was blessed. We can hardly blame Job for longing for the former days. Times were now hard, and there seemed to be no end in sight. Job wished he could return to better days. He wished none of this hardship and suffering had ever come upon him. If only his blessings had continued without interruption...

But King Solomon warns us about trying to live in the past. He said, "Do not say, 'Why is it that the former days were better than these?' For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this." (Ecclesiastes 7:10) Solomon reminds us that we cannot live in the past, no matter how wonderful that past was. During our lives, we experience both good times and bad. But we must live in the present, not longing for happier times in the past. The truth is that, as long as we hang onto the past, we can not enter into the blessings God has for us in the future. Job had a wonderful past, but he had to let go of it so that he could experience the better future that God had prepared for him.

The life of Job tells us something very important about our lives. Sometimes the path between blessing and greater blessing passes through the valley of sorrows. Sometimes we get so comfortable with where we are, that we resist going on, fearing that difficult times may come upon us. This was the case for the children of Israel at Mount Horeb. The had spent almost 18 months living there in the shadow of the Almighty. God feed them, His cloud shaded them by day, and His fire warmed them by night. They were content to spend the rest of their lives there on the mountain with God. But God had other plans. One day, God came to them and said, "You have stayed long enough at this mountain." (Deuteronomy 1:6) They had been there long enough. It was time for them to move on.

There are times in our life when God comes to us and says, "It's time to move on." Many times, our moving on will involve seasons of suffering, even as it did for Job. But if we can see beyond the suffering to the greater reward that God has before us, then the seasons of suffering will become a little more bearable. Jesus left us such an example looking forward, beyond the suffering, "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross , despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus life was not easy, and His death was almost unbearable, but it was the joy that was before Him, on the other side of the cross, that gave Him the strength to endure the cross. The truth is that suffering is never an end in our lives. Rather it is a pathway to something greater in God. And though, while in the midst of it, there may seem to be no end in sight, our patient endurance will one day earn us the reward of God that waits on the other side of our sufferings.

David Robison

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