At times, illnesses and troubles come to try our faith. Job discovered that. He was an exceptionally righteous man. He even took precautionary steps in the likelihood that his children could have unwittingly affronted the glory of God by sinning against Him (Job 1:1-5).
One day Satan “turned up” in the Lord’s court. It would appear that Satan came to give an account of what he had done and achieved among the people of the earth. Since pride was Satan’s primary sin, he must have boasted about the many he had turned against God. The Lord challenged Satan to consider Job, that he was faithfully righteous. Satan rebutted God saying that Job was righteous only because it was profitable. “If he wasn’t so blessed, he wouldn’t be righteous”, Satan said (1:6-11).
God was so sure of Job that He gave Satan permission to strip Job of all his blessings. In just one day Job lost his wealth and all his children. Job grieved, but did not give up being faithful (1:12-22).
When God confronted Satan with Job’s integrity again, Satan said that a man would give up everything if he himself was spared of all harm (2:1-5). God then allowed Satan to touch the person of Job and he came down with an obnoxious skin disease. Still Job remained faithfully committed to God (2:6-8). From Job’s experience we learn that the Lord does not allow us to be tested beyond our strength. If trial follows trial, it is only because God Himself has assessed us to have the strength to withstand the new trial having overcome the earlier one.
After Job had lost everything including his health, his wife told him to just curse God and die (v.9). Job’s response was that she was a fool: “If I receive good from God, should I not accept trouble too?” (v.10). In other words, Job asked, “Why not me?” Usually, people ask this question only when they think that they have been bypassed for some benefit. Not when trouble comes.
When we receive good from the Lord, we rejoice that we are “so blessed”. However, when trouble comes, we tend to ask, “Why me?” Our question implies that we think that we do not deserve to have trouble in our lives. It also means that we subconsciously think or feel that we deserved to receive what we did from God before trouble arrived. When we think that way, we are not thinking “grace”; that is, the unmerited favour of God.
Joseph Stowell wrote: “Sometimes when people ask how I’m doing, I reply, ‘Better than I deserve.’ I remember a well-meaning person responding, ‘Oh no, Joe, you deserve a lot,’ to which I replied, ‘Not really.’ I was thinking about what I truly deserve—God’s judgement. We easily forget how sinful we are at the core of our being. Thinking of ourselves more highly than we should diminishes our sense of deep indebtedness to God for His grace. It discounts the price He paid to rescue us… As the psalmist reminds us, God ‘has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities’ (Ps 103:10). The only thing we truly deserve is hell… If God never does anything more than redeem us, He has already done far more than we deserve.” (Our Daily Bread, May 23, 2014)
Arthur Ashe, the legendary Wimbledon player, was stricken with AIDS because of an infected blood transfusion during a heart surgery in 1983. While he was dying, he received letters from fans around the world. One asked, “Why did God have to select you for such a bad disease?” Arthur Ashe replied: “The world over — 50 million children start playing tennis… 50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to semi-finals, 2 to the finals. When I was the one holding the cup I never asked God, ‘Why me?’ and today in pain I should not be asking God ‘Why me?’”
(To be continued…)