Have you ever found yourself in the midst of turmoil, wondering what it is that God is trying to teach you so that the trial will be over and you can get on with life? I have a number of friends who have gone from experiencing great prosperity to losing almost everything because of the economic meltdown we’ve experienced in recent years. I wonder how many of them have asked the question, “What is God trying to teach me?”
I have been blessed with a successful business for many years. Several years ago, God brought my largest client to me that I wasn’t even pursuing. For five years I experienced the greatest sustained period of business that I’ve ever had. As the project for that client drew to a close, there were three or four other major corporations expressing interest in our services, and I was wondering how I would manage to handle all of the business that was on the horizon. Then the economy took a nose dive, and one by one, in rapid succession, all of these prospective clients decided to batten down the hatches and do nothing except try to survive. For the past two years, I’ve been working to replace those prospective clients, with seemingly little success.
I was having lunch not long ago with one of my best friends. He is one of many who have faithfully encouraged me and prayed for me. He asked me the question, “What do you think God is trying to teach you?" I’ve pondered that question, wondering if there is something God is trying to teach me. Maybe He’s trying to teach me humility. Maybe He wants me to remember that He is the one who gives me success. Or maybe He wants me to learn to fully trust Him. But I have learned these lessons before, during times when business was slow, and my attention was more focused on Him.
I’ve realized that maybe it’s not about me. I would be pretty arrogant to think that everything that happens in my life is about me. It could be about anything that God wants it to be about. Look at the story of Job. He was an extremely wealthy man who was faithful to God. All of a sudden, he lost everything. And if that wasn’t enough, he then lost his health to the point that he wished God would take his life. But what was that about? Was God trying to teach Job something? Here is how his problems came about:
Job 1: 6-12: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”
Job 2: 1-8: “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.” ESV
It seems to me that Job’s trials were not intended to teach Job anything. God was using Job to prove to Satan that Job’s faithfulness was rooted in God alone. His faithfulness was not because God had placed a hedge of protection around him and his family. God allowed Satan to attack Job, and Job did not betray God. He did question God, but he remained faithful to God. Why did God allow this? God knows.
When we face trials, we can certainly learn from them. God uses trials to purify the righteous. We need to look for the lessons that we can learn as we go through trials. But we need to understand that it’s not always about us. We may get our act together and get back on the straight and narrow path, but that doesn’t mean the trial will end. We need to realize that God is sovereign, and allow Him to do what He is doing. Keep trusting Him and remain steadfast in your faith. That will give glory to God!
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1: 2-4 ESV