Saturday, January 11, 2014

For good or bad. But really it's all good.

"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away"
Job 1:21

I had a very brief, but thought-provoking exchange with a friend the other night at Bible study, based on the first two chapters of Job.  As you may know, satan reports to God and they get to talking about Job, and how faithful he is.  satan says he's only faithful because God blesses him so much.  So God calls satan's bluff and tells him he's allowed to "unbless" Job.  So satan, using weather and enemies, wreaked havoc* on Job's life.

{ * Is it even possible to wreak something other than "havoc"?}

The discussion that my friend and I got into was about who we blame (or credit) for the difficult things that happen in our lives.  She said, "Whenever anything bad happens in my life, I assume it's satan."  I thought that was kind of funny, because whenever anything bad happens in my life, I assume it's God.

The truth is somewhere in between, of course.  Some things are God-directed, others are satan-directed but God-allowed.  Still others are just the consequences of bad decisions, whether ours, or someone in our life. 

But when explaining to my friend why I assume everything in my life is God's work, I said I think it's because I know He's in control.  And I know He's going to work everything for good in the end.

But I also think it's because I know He has so many ways of working in our lives.  There are so many variables and people and events through whom He can bless or grow us.

When my kids were young, I had a multitude of ways to discipline or reward them.  If they needed consequences for something, I could decide not to take them to the park.  Or I could wait and leave later.  Or I could still take them, but take a detour to emphasize the point that I had control:  "No, this isn't the way to the park, but I can change my mind any time I want, and still get there..."  I was the one who had the power to reward or discipline them.

Sometimes if they misbehaved, I would tell them, "We could have gone to the park today, but that's not going to happen now."  I would say that even if I had never even planned on going to the park.  I think that made me feel better, because I knew they weren't really missing out on going to the park, because it was never going to happen anyway.  But at the same time, they felt the loss of something that might have been, and maybe that made them think twice about the bad decision they had made.

God will accomplish His good for us, in the way that He chooses.   Sometimes it's in ways we cannot see or understand.  And sometimes we think He was mean, when really it was satan working through the weather, or our enemies, or our own stupid decisions. 

But ultimately, always, power is His.  satan could ~ and can ~ do nothing without the Lord's consent.  Which means, when it's all said and done, since every good and perfect gift comes from Him, and everything that happens in our lives will be for our good, we have Him to thank.

~ "I will cause them to know My hand
    and My might" ~
Jeremiah 16:21


  1. Here is Job 2:10 in over 40 different English translations:

  2. Love those comparisons! They are invariably enlightening; thank you!