“Dealing with Contentions in the Midst of Blessings”

Photo: Pixabay/ThePixelman

“And Abimelech said unto Issac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we,” Genesis 26:16

Oh, how wonderful we feel when God opens the windows of heaven and pours out blessings into our lives, Micah 3:10. It feels good! And, it doesn’t matter if the blessing is material, physical, spiritual or emotional, if there is something that God wants to do that is special for us, we take joy in receiving from the goodness of our heavenly Father.

One of my favorite verses that keeps me in check and reminds me of just how awesome He is in this area is Matthew 7:9-11. In the verses before these Jesus is teaching His disciples a few of life’s lessons. He just assured them of the “ask, seek, and knock” principle of prayer. Then, to make sure they understood how much the heavenly Father cares He further explains, “Or what man of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

God knows how to give good gifts! The problem with that is everybody is not going to like you for it. Everyone is not going to be on your side. There will be one, if not more, that will be standing in the corner, grimacing every time God decides to shower you with some of His goodness. It’s sad but true!

Human nature can get almost primal in this area. If you throw a bone to a pack of hungry dogs, what will happen? Only one dog will actually catch the bone, but the others will be on a continual mission to take it from him because they want it for themselves. They’re hungry for it. They want to be fed, too. It’s not fair that the one got the blessing and the rest didn’t. And so, another dog will try to latch onto it to yank and pull it away from the original owner. Another also steps in and tries to get it from the previous two. And on, and on it goes. Until one is successful to lie hold of it and run to safety.

I’ve seen this play out with seagulls also. You throw a piece of bread out for one and suddenly there are what seem to be a hundred gulls thinking they can all survive off of that one piece. They swoop down to grab the bread and try to fly away with the prize, only another has his eye on it and does the same. It becomes a never-ending circle of desire and wants that moves to the contentions of, “If I can’t have it, neither can you.” Swoop! It’s mine!

The same scenario played out for Isaac. God was keeping His promise that He made to Abraham and his son was reaping the rewards of it. God had truly blessed Isaac. “Then Isaac sowed in the land and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants…” (Genesis 26:12-14).

He was blessed! But, the remainder of verse 14 clearly states that not everyone was happy about it. It says, “And the Philistines envied him.” They then put into motion a plan to try to hold down his blessings. “For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth,” (Genesis 26:15). As they stopped up the wells their hope was to stop the blessings.

Afterwards, the king of the Philistines, Abimelech, just out and out told him, “We don’t want you here anymore – get out!” If they can’t stop the blessings then they don’t want to be around you while God is blessing. Why? Because it hurts to see some receive and some don’t. Humanity doesn’t like it like that, unless, of course, they are the ones on the receiving end of it.

It’s a hard pill to swallow. I’ve been on both sides of this fence: the side of being blessed and the side of watching others get blessed. Oftentimes, I didn’t always understand, but that’s just the way it was. Like it or not, I have to believe in God’s sovereignty over it all. Did it always register right away? Um, no. For I am human also and don’t always see things as God does. (If I’m going to write about it, I have to be totally honest about it.)

So, it shouldn’t surprise us that as God moves on our behalf to elevate us and bless us, that contentions can arise. What do we do then? First and foremost, is to trust God. After being kicked out, Isaac went from one well to another, there was always a fight with someone about it. Isaac could’ve gotten ticked off, but he kept trying to find where God was leading. Just because you are blessed by God doesn’t mean you can settle anywhere. You have to be where God wants you in order to continue to grow in Him. That requires trust.

Eventually, Genesis 26:22 tells us, “And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not…  For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” If one keeps following the leading of God, God, in turn, will put you in a place where the gifts and blessings He has given you will thrive. You are not going to just flourish anywhere. You have to be where He can ensure your growth.

If that weren’t enough, God made those that hated Isaac to be at peace with him. “We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee… let us make a covenant with thee,” (Genesis 26:28). They came to him. They sought him out to seek reconciliation. How did it all end? Very good, I might say. “And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace,” (Genesis 26:30-31). All grudges and animosity were gone and peace entered in.

The Bible says, “the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water,” (Genesis 26:32). This was refreshment for the body and soul after dealing with such contentions. I think that means he was finally where God wanted him to be, in mind, body and spirit. The water didn’t come until the covenant for peace was made.

When God blesses there will sometimes be contentions to deal with from others. But, we too, have a responsibility in the midst to try to go as God leads us and to still keep the peace.

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“The One Another Concept”

Despite the suggestion of this present age, we are not in this world for ourselves alone.  Our paths cross times, destinies, and people for a purpose.  Our lives are meant to connect as building blocks upon the foundation of our Lord Jesus Christ to help bring about change in the world of individuals we meet and pray for and love with the heart of Christ.

There is a “one another concept” that is richly expressed in God’s Word time and again.  One verse tells us, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do,” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  Another verse says, “…by love serve one another,” (Galatians 5:13).  And yet, another still says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2).

When we are thinking along the lines of ministering to people, it will only happen when we consider one another.  It only happens when we step out of self for a moment, take our eyes off us, and see what another may be going through, and taking the time to step into their world for a minute to edify, serve, or help that one to bear something they need help with at the moment.

Serving people is reaching into their world where their need is pleading for help.  Sometimes that need is physical for things such as food or warmth, but at other times it’s a hug or a buddy saying, “I’m with you through this.”  All of it is driven by concern about what someone else is going through.  It’s not sitting in the seat of judgment over circumstance but it’s viewing them with the same compassionate eyes that caused Jesus to care about people the way He did.

This kind of compassion toward others causes movement.  One can’t see the struggle and not want to help with the need.  It’s recognizing, Lord, I may not be able to help everybody in everything, but for this need, I can stretch out my hand, my heart, and my time to care about another soul.

From the time of the creation of humanity, the “one another concept” has been in play.  God designed another being in the form of Eve to help compliment Adam so that he wouldn’t have to do life alone (see Genesis 2:18-22).

They were designed for relationship that offers support physically, emotionally, and spiritually to one another.  This idea can most certainly be applied to relationships with our friends, people on our jobs or we come across during the day, acquaintances and so on.  It’s hands and hearts of love designed for the betterment of humankind to meet the needs of one another wherever they are.

The “one another concept” isn’t just a good idea.  It’s a life choice that raises awareness of simply being there for people when people need you the most.  In other words, put people on your radar and become alert to any distress signals or troubles that might be registering for attention.  Some people may not know how to ask for help or feel completely uncomfortable with the idea, but in our awareness, when we notice those signals and answer the call, we can make a positive difference in that life that may have felt like it was going under all alone.

After all, if it hasn’t happened already, and even if it did, there may still come a time when we need that same support system that compels another to be willing to put us and our needs ahead of their personal feelings, advancement, and/or pleasure.

We don’t have to fit in with the self-serving nature of our modern culture.  Especially, if we remember that Christ deliberately put all our needs ahead of His own when He went to the cross in our place.  Love is what turned his attention off Himself and onto us.  What more can we do but make the same effort to reach another with the same love and help that was so freely given to us?

Is there another that needs you today?  Watch those you come into contact with during the day.  Are there ways you can brighten someone’s day?  Can you offer water or bread, in Jesus’ name, to one who has a need to be filled?  Can someone else use a word of hope and encouragement that guides them to see more than what they are facing now?  Can another just have your listening ear and understanding so they can unload a great weight they have been carrying much too long?

Touching needs where they are is only made possible when we get involved in the “one another concept”; when we allow God to use us, and our big or small offerings of help, to plant seeds of love in the life of one who may really need it today.  Together, we can do this!

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2, NKJV

“Enjoy the Ride!”

enjoy the ride-001

 

One day I found myself in a bit of a quandary.  After dropping one of my daughters off on her college campus I had to make the decision whether I would jump back on the highway or take the back road.  The dilemma: the highway was very congested and moving extremely slow and the back road took longer.  I had to be somewhere in an allotted amount of time and wanted to get there as quickly as possible.

Sending up a silent prayer for wisdom I proceeded back onto the highway only to be caught in practically stand-still traffic.  Quickly I jumped off the first exit and proceeded to take the back road.  Instead of allowing the usual frustration to set in of being sent off course, a thought kept niggling my mind: Enjoy the Ride.  The weather was crisp on that first full day of Fall, a few leaves were beginning to change.  The “rushing to get where I needed to” thought kept trying to invade this peaceful drive, but the thought would come again: Enjoy the Ride.

Sometimes plans going awry but being taken off course doesn’t have to be frustrating.  Sometimes I believe it’s God’s way of telling us to enjoy the journey of life a little more.  Schedules are always going to be there but sometimes we have to let go and enjoy the ride.  Give it to God and trust Him to lead you to your destination and sit back and enjoy.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path,” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

“Return to Me”

“Return UNTO ME… THEN SHALT THOU NOT REMOVE.” Jeremiah 4:1

There is something to be said about being in the safety of the arms of the one you love. It’s a hold that fiercely embraces you, daring one to step between. In it, you not only find love but you feel the truth of all this person’s emotions toward you. You are secured. You are established. Nothing can tear you away from the warmth and protection you feel at this moment.

And yet, as most movies and books go, there comes the drama. In the drama comes the reason for departure. The part of the story that makes you wonder, “Will they ever be united again? Will they ever really know how one another feels?” It’s a typical storyline, but I must admit I never tire of it.

In those stories, not until the two parties separate do they realize just how much they needed the other. All of a sudden, the love they felt for one another reignites and in a desperate attempt to save the relationship, somehow, someway, they run back to the safety of each other’s arms where they can rebuild upon the love that was once felt.

Can I tell you something? God has never fallen out of love with you! As a matter of fact, He has done everything possible to try to keep you safely in His arms where He can take care of you and love on you. Yet, and still, the drama unfolds that leads the heart of man away to run after their own pursuits. What then of the love that God felt for you? It’s still there!

His love has never left just because we did. His love has never stopped embracing even when we didn’t return the embrace. His love has always been on fire for you and me, even when we tried to extinguish it. His love never quits seeking reconciliation because He wants us with Him!

This was the truth that He was trying to get across through the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s job was to relate to the people of Israel God’s undying passion for them. He tried to convince them that the drama of going their own way wasn’t worth it. Life would be so much better if they would stay where love could keep them and care for them. But, unfortunately, as mankind does, they thought they knew what was best. Love was not on their mind at that moment. As most stories play out, they couldn’t see past what they thought they wanted.

Yet, God is still pleading through the mouth of the prophet, “Return to Me.” If this were a movie, after witnessing the passionate plea for one to come back, to stay in my arms forever, there would not be a dry eye in the house. But, this is what God is doing! He is crying out to His people to not turn away, “DON’T GO! COME BACK! PLEASE, COME BACK!”

As the movies go, so did it with Israel. The pleas go unanswered. He has no choice but to let His loved ones go, hoping that one day they will come to their senses and return. To make a long story short, Israel had to be let go for several decades before they would come to truly appreciate the love that God has for them. Don’t let the same be said of us today.

God is still waiting with opened arms. If we have not held on as tightly as we should – return. If some other thing or person has attracted our desires more – return. If we have turned a deaf ear to the pleas of love – return. If we have refused the grace of His embrace – run back and return to those arms of love.

God promises when you wholeheartedly return to Him and put away all that other stuff that is not like Him, “then shalt thou not remove.”   Why? Because now you are safely snuggled where you belong. You are in the place of promise and His promise is this, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil,” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Faithful, established, and guarded – wow! That’s what He does for the one who stays in His arms of love.

God is crying out. Don’t let those cries go unanswered. Return today!

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“The Babe of Bethlehem”

“And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” Matthew 2:5-6

At the writing of Matthew 2:5-6, over 700 years have gone by since the Old Testament prophet Micah told of a Ruler that would be birthed out of this little town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2-3).  While over those centuries of waiting, countless babies have entered this world and linked the beginning of their lives to this motherland, only One’s heritage can connect the dots with those long ago words that herald the coming of the Savior of the world.

He would be the freedom the world has longingly yearned for.  He would be the peace, souls since the beginning of time, have dreamt about.  He would be the Shepherd who would not lead with a rod or a staff, but with His life.  This blessed Babe of Bethlehem would be the all eternal One, whose days are from everlasting (Micah 5:).  He would be the Babe seen as He “who is, and who was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” (Revelation 1:8), and He would change everything the world once knew.

No wonder hearts were stirred.  No wonder souls were searching with excitement.  No wonder kingdoms were in a ruckus.  The Babe of Bethlehem was no ordinary babe.  He was God incarnate, God in the flesh, “God with us,” (Matthew 1:23).  The imperfect people born in this world would need the help of that perfect Savior born in Bethlehem.

The celebration of Christmas is the celebration of that precious Babe who had finally arrived in the world to bring this long-awaited hope.  He that was born as the prophesied Messiah would lift the judgment of condemnation for those who not only seek Him, but find Him.  And, they are no longer content to have Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, but their soul’s desire is to wrap Him in their hearts.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

“Follow the Star!”

Photo: Pixabay

Hope.  I have to believe their journey was measured with steps of hope.  They’ve heard the prophecies.  They have studied to know when and where and what to look for and at its appearing in the sky they knew for sure, somehow, some way, that by following that particular star, it would lead them to the source of all hope being fulfilled.  It would lead them to the Messiah, the true King, who is worthy to be honored, worshipped and praised (Matthew 2:1-2).

There’s a lot of following and pursuits that people chase after every day.  But, if those steps aren’t leading us closer to the true King then it is a vain journey.  To have that wonderful life or miracle of newness on any street we don’t need to wait for a fictitious figment of our imagination to come to town.  We need to place one spiritual foot in front of the other and go after the true Star.

Not the twinkling celestial bodies in the sky that give light to the objects below, but the Star who is the “light of the world,” (John 8:12) that allows us to escape the darkness of sin and breathes new life into the dreary souls of these world travelers, illuminating a new path for our journey.

It is Him we are to look for.  It is Christ we are to chase after.  And, as they say, “Wise men still seek Him.”  Therefore, follow the Star.  For He is not only the King of the Jews the men of the old days were seeking after.   He is also the King of our hearts and the fulfiller of all the hope we are in search of.

“God is with the Generation of the Righteous!”

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“For God is with the generation of the righteous,” Psalm 14:5, NKJV

“With” is a simple four-lettered word we throw in the middle of a sentence to show the togetherness of something or someone.  But, when speaking of our relationship with God, we do have that definition of God being near us wherever we are.  We do have the meaning of Him walking amongst us through the valley lows and the mountain highs.  We do have that basic hint of the word “with,” but we also have so much more.

That word, as general as it is in meaning, not only tells us where God is in conjunction with His people but because of where He is, it also declares a shift in our stance and position in this world.  We are not just the run of the mill ordinary folk you may meet on the street in passing.  We are not the average Joe that people may be used to dealing with.  As we are taking our daily steps and going about our routines, we and they must realize there is so much more to us than what the naked eye may see.  As we sit at our desks to work or do whatever tasks our job requires, our position may look like everybody else’s on the outside – oh but, inside He is there.  God has implanted a part of Himself in the heart of each believer and He has attached Himself to the righteous.

Listen, it may not always feel like it, but when people look at you what they are seeing is just a shadow of what you really got going on with you.  Surrounding you and dwelling in you, through the power of the Holy Spirit is God Almighty.  Today, walk with your head held high knowing that no matter how people perceive you, their view is obscured by whatever bias they carry.  Who you are in God and God with you speaks of so much more.  Your stance and your position now are one of grace, power, holiness, love, and peace that is not only covering your life but is walking with you every step of the way.

Today, Lord, You have chosen to draw near to where Your people are.  You have surrounded us on every side and have taken up residence in the innermost parts of our being.  God, thank You for the gift of You.  Thank You for loving us so much that even in Your omnipotent and holy nature, You have attached Yourself to humble creatures such as we, Your people, and You desire to be with us wherever we are.  This is a most priceless gift to us.  Let us not take lightly this preciousness of Your presence with us.  In the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN!

 

 

“Peace on Earth”

Sin has destroyed peace.  Circumstances try to overrun peace.  Emotions can’t seem to grab hold of peace but, if this time of year teaches us nothing else, it’s that peace is still a very real thing to not only seek after but to find.

The Savior was born for peace.  He came to reconcile, restore, and offer peace to mankind of the likes they never could have else wise imagined having.  His peace is not commercial and it’s not superficial.  The peace of Christ is an inner peace that comes from knowing that even through the hardest trials of life, God’s love for each of us is so magnificent that He offered us this great gift, the best Christmas gift we could ever hope for, through His Blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace should not be so elusive for the heart to behold.  While the Shepherds were in that field on that holy night, the chorus of the angels rang out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,” (Luke 2:14).  Peace is part of the salvation package; it’s part of the gift we have received through Him.  While it may not always seem like it or even feel like it, in Christ you have a peace which, “passeth all understanding,” and this peace “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:7).

Your life hidden in Him is something beyond human comprehension.  You are cemented in a joy that cannot be moved because the One who holds your hope cannot be moved.  Your Redeemer came as a babe and reigns as Victor and He, being the Author of your salvation, is not only your eternal reward in heaven, but He is your peace on earth today.

Father God, Help us through this season.  Not just the holiday season, but these seasons of life that we find ourselves wrapped in.  There are so many questions of why that we may not always understand.  There are circumstances that often we just cannot figure out.  Thankfully, You know it all together and you didn’t ask us to try to know the beginning from the end because You already do.  You asked us to have faith and just rest in the peace that Your Son has already given us.  For many, this time of year is very hard.  For some situations, we can’t begin to imagine the hurt and confusion one carries, so we stand and pray that people everywhere would feel a refreshing of Your peace in their lives today.  AMEN!

“Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone”

One thing I have reluctantly had to admit is that I don’t always have Abraham faith.  When one really delves into his story, his story was laden with change.  Change, often times, is something I have been pretty resistant to.

Let’s face it, leaving your own home is no small feat (Genesis 12:1), especially during the Bible era.  In our day we have options to hop back on a plane and usually, there are provisions and backup plans that are available if that adventurous leap of faith didn’t work out.  And, this could all be done in a matter of hours.

I imagine it wasn’t quite that easy back then.  But, then again, maybe that’s a good thing.  Maybe not having easy access to falling back into one’s comfort zone is a blessing in disguise for it forces that venture forward.  It forces us to take on new terrain and enter new callings as we try to acclimate and navigate our new surroundings and circumstances.

Often I feel the ease of looking back hinders our progress.  Unchartered territories can be scary, uncomfortable, and demanding of our time, talent, and emotions.  But what if it leads to something greater?  What if that step of faith allows you to do something miraculous that you could never see yourself doing?  What if it opened new doors of opportunity that you never could have imagined being able to walk through?

I guess that’s why it’s called faith.  Almost blindly, without full perception and without knowing where every piece of the puzzle already fits, we are asked to play along anyway.  Engage in the unknown no matter what the current reality says.  After all, according to the Bible, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1).

Comfort zones, though they appear safe, are in fact very dangerous.  Walking in the land of familiarity may seem like a sure bet but in them lays unexpected traps.  Traps where dreams lose their freshness.  Traps where ideas lose their strength to be propelled forward.  Traps where talents get wasted in this pit of unseen snares.

God has always wanted the best for all His people.  But, when He calls, it is up to them to make the move.  He may not be asking you to leave your homeland, but where or what do you feel Him pulling you toward?  What area of your comfort zone has become so stale that now it too is very uncomfortable, yet, you’re still too afraid to make a move?

If Abraham had not put action behind his calling, he would have never been dubbed the father of faith, and so many things in our biblical history would not be traced back to his stepping out moment.

I wonder if we boldly step out today, what miraculous future events will point back to our time when we chose to leave the safety of our comfort zones?

One thing is for sure if we stay where we are, and if we keeping doing the same thing over and over again, nothing will ever change.  Don’t substitute comfort and reluctance to change for what can be.  Who knows what God wants to write in your future story?  Step out of your comfort zone and let Him write something amazing!

 

“…But Lord, I Thank You!” – Word For Life Says

Job 1:20-22 “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”

Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Job 19:25-27 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”

Anytime we see a “…” in a sentence it expresses a train of thought and direction or a transition if you will.  That “…” is very important to this message.

Times of transition can be good and bad.  When one is engrossed in unpleasant circumstances a nice change of pace can be just what the doctor ordered.  It breathes new life into you and lifts your spirits high making you feel as if you are on cloud nine.  At the same time, when one is entering times of affliction, lack of any sort of substandard anything compared to what they are used to, the feelings of dread and just suffering through take over.

There are different seasons that everyone goes through in life.  There are times of joy and there are times of pain.  While we don’t mind dealing with the seasons of joy and happiness that come our way, a whole other story could be told for the times of pain and suffering we encounter.

There are seasons, even for the Christian, that come that are not too pleasant.  There are times when the people of God had to endure trials and tribulations.  There are episodes of turmoil that have wiggled their way into our families, our lives, our jobs, and our finances.

Sometimes difficult and new stuff pops up out of nowhere, things you weren’t looking to happen in this season of life, and it has blindsided you and caught you off guard.  There may be things that surprised you and now you just don’t know which way you are going.  The road hasn’t always been easy to travel.  We are looking for the new.  We need a transition.  We are in need of a “…” moment.

It’s time to move from the victim mentality and don a praise mentality.  It’s time to move from the feeling defeated mentality to no matter what’s going in my life, “…Lord, I just want to thank You” mentality.

A praise mentality says no matter the situation we are going through I still have a reason to worship.  We still have a reason to lift our hands in utter adoration!  We still have a reason to fall to our knees in prayer!  We still have a reason to believe His grace and mercy is at work in our lives!  I still have a reason to say, “Thank You!”

Job is one of the most figurative Bible characters who we surmise as suffering outside of Jesus Christ our Savior.  So, I figured if anybody can teach us how to be thankful despite what we’re going through it could be Job.

Job was a man whom God describes in the Bible as being upright and perfect, Job 1:8.  He is known for turning himself away from the path of evil, not giving it a foothold in his life.  Yet, in his righteous living, he was still susceptible to being tested in some of the worse ways possible.  He lost everything from possessions down to the very people he loved the most in life.

Job’s experiences can be summed up in that one word: suffering. Job knew suffering.  Job knew what it was like to love and lose; to have and to have not.  What’s more is he lost everything at the same time, piling traumatic event after traumatic event on till he thought his heart couldn’t take any more (read Job 1-2 for greater detail).

Sitting in a pile of ashes with seemingly nothing left, could he at least find comfort in the good word of a friend? Will they speak encouragement to help him carry the weight of his burdensome troubles?

The answer sadly is, “No.”  His friends started out with good intentions but by the time they reach chapter 4, Job’s friends became what is known as “miserable comforters.”  They decided to chime in with their opinions of what was right and wrong.  This was where their attempts at comfort went downhill.  They berated Job and blamed him for all that he was going through.

Job literally had no one and the weight of the world was upon his shoulders, but his response to his trials is what blew my mind away.  When things first began to unravel for him, in the verses we read in chapter 1 he shaved his head, fell down on his face and he worshipped.

The words that came out of his mouth were of praise and thanks.  He said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!

That word “blessed” is synonymous with celebrating God with praise in spite of.  That word blessed is acknowledging God is good no matter what the circumstances around me say.  That word blessed is also translated in the New and Old Testament to give thanks!  “Blessed be the name of the LORD!”  Job, with his shaved head of sorrow and humble spirit, gave God thanks amid the sorrow he was going through!

His response reminds me of Psalm 34:1 where the psalmist proclaimed, “I will bless the Lord at all times and His praise shall continually be in my mouth!”  I will thank God always and I will never stop celebrating His goodness!  I will show God gratitude always and I will never stop lifting Him up.  I will appreciate God even in this and I will never stop recognizing that He and He only is God of my life.

Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  My always for all things may not look the way I want it to right now, but Lord I thank You, is what he’s saying!  I am not saying thank you because I like problems, but I am saying thank You because I know the God I serve.  I am saying thank you because He is working on the inside to change things on the outside.  I am saying thank you because God is setting us up for a future that is glorious in Him!  Therefore, “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  I am in Christ; therefore I give thanks!  I have been washed by the blood, therefore I give thanks.  Yes, life hurts sometimes and yes, the walls come crashing down sometimes, but I owe God a praise.  I thank God for seeing me through every trouble, every storm that blows my way!  “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”

Job’s response went even further than this.  In Job 19, he said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives.”  Things were not exactly turning in his favor.  At that time, his today didn’t look any better than his yesterday.  His friends are still in his face challenging him with their accusations.  But, despite his personal persecutions, he emphatically declares, “I know . . .”

Knowing speaks of assurance. A declaration of knowing tells doubt there is no place here for you. “Know” is certain that this is what it is. And, what he is certain of is “my redeemer liveth.” God is alive and will always be alive. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” (Revelation 1:8).

“He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”  Job knew that God was and is the end-all of all authority, victory and power. Standing upon anything denotes mastery and dominion of said object.  Job knew where his trust lies.  In God who is victorious: “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him,” (Psalm 68:1).  Paul, speaking of Christ said He, “hath put all things under his feet…,” (Ephesians 1:22).  Even this.

“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”  There is hope beyond the here and now. Physically, it didn’t look good for Job. He had “sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown,” (Job 2:7).  He, in dealing with the pain of his body and the pain of his heart must have thought there is not that much more time left. At one point of desperation, things had gotten so bad, Job prayed for death (see Job 6:8-9).

Despite it all, he knew that there was a better day beyond the corruption of his flesh.  His body, when the time came, would lie in the ground and the worms would have their way with him, but he looked forward to another glorious time when “in my flesh shall I see God.”  Things were hard for Job, but in his speech, you can still see his faith alive and active in what he believes: and he believes GOD!  Therefore, “I bless God!  I give God thanks!”

Job teaches us how to respond to God in midst of trials and troubles.  He may have been down, especially when his friends attacked him, but he still recognized God for who He is.  He basically transitioned his mentality to shift his focus from what was before him to the God who can save Him.

Yes, he grew weary and even questioned why he was going through what he was going through.  Who wouldn’t?  But, through it all you still see his faith in God come to the forefront in the midst of his story.

In the end, Job was blessed with a double portion of blessings.  God testified of Job to his friends.  God spoke up for Job and said, “My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath,” (Job 42:7).

It’s not too late for God to turn it around and to testify on your behalf.  The week of Thanksgiving is here, and this year is not over yet.  There is still room for a blessing.  And, even if not – if God never does another thing for us, can we say, “Lord, I thank You?”

At the end of the day, as hard as it may be sometimes, we must transition our thinking and say “… But Lord, I thank YOU!”