September 17

Job 9:2-4 (NIV) 2"Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can a mortal be righteous before God? 3Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand. 4His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?

Job's friends came to comfort him, and sat silent for seven days. What can you say to a friend who has endured such loss? Finally Job spoke of his misery. He wished he had been stillborn. He considered his pain greater than the joys he experienced in life. Good people may experience situations in which they despair of life itself.

Then his friends made an all too common mistake. They tried to counsel him in his grief. One insisted that he must have sinned. Job replied that he was not aware of any specific sin, and if he did not intend to sin, wouldn't God find mercy to forgive. The other friend insisted no one is perfect before God. Our verse today is Job's reply. Of course we are not perfect in his sight. How can anyone be righteous before God? If we were to have a debate with God, we couldn't really respond to any of God's questions. No one can stand before the Almighty and say He has not been righteous in all His acts.

Still, Job did not understand what he was going through. Why should all this trouble be allowed to strike him? He could not see the heavenly conflict or understand how good would come from such suffering. It will be another 30 chapters before his eyes are opened and he submits quietly to the sovereignty of God. What can we learn from this passage today? Sometimes the best thing is to say nothing, but weep with those that weep. There will be times in our lives that we have no explanation for suffering. Endure, and believe that God is working all things out for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. There are times when we are teaching angelic beings about love for God and trust in His character and sovereignty. Satan refused to believe Job could continue to have faith in God, but Job proved him wrong. Though he voiced the fact that he did not understand what God was doing, he never doubted the integrity of God.

Consider: You don't have to understand what is happening, but you do need keep trusting God.

September 17

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NIV) 7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

When a speaker comes and insists on sharing a long litany of his accomplishments, publications, and degrees, you can be fairly certain they are not relying on the Holy Spirit. When Paul compared himself to the false teachers that were trying to draw the Corinthians away from the truths Paul taught, Paul said it was his weaknesses that were worth boasting about, not strengths.

He had seen revelations that could not be repeated, so to keep him from thinking to highly about himself, God gave him an affliction of some kind. We don't know what it was, but here it is called a thorn in the flesh and a messenger of Satan. He said that it tormented him. Praying three different times for deliverance from it did not help. Eventually he heard from God, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Sometimes God does not deliver us from our suffering but gives us the grace to endure it. That can be a more powerful testimony of God at work in us than if we were to be healed. You probably know someone that lives with hardship and yet does so graciously, even helping others in the process. That says more about the power of God in their life than if they were to be healed. Some insist that all people are to be healed. This case of Paul shows us that is not always true.

Paul had to have such power from God for his ministry that only an affliction could keep him from pride. Paul's response to his situation was to boast about the weakness so that the power could rest on him. He would prefer to have the power of God in his life and be weak than to be in full health and not be used as mightily by God. Which would your prefer?

Consider: If it came down to a choice, would you choose health or the power of God on your ministry?