Are we living by faith?
It is very important for us to constantly check our lives. We can live by all that God has blessed us with – our money, job, skills, talents and gifts. We may have all these things today; tomorrow we may not. But the question that we must ask is ‘Are we living by faith?’
Does our response to the situations in our life change depending on the circumstance? When the situations in our life are not very pleasing or encouraging and there are times when we don’t feel like responding in the way God expects us to respond, how do we respond?
The Bible says that if there is anything that overcomes this world, it is not any of our positions or situations. It is the faith in our heart that we live out. Such faith overcomes the world. For those who live by faith and are led by the Spirit of God are called the sons of God. The New Testament says that we are not of those who walk by sight, but we walk by faith. Focusing on God and walking is something that God demands from each of us.
World testimony v/s God testimony
Our testimony in the world is connected to what we have and what we don’t. Good job, promotion and other blessings in our lives are part of that testimony. We can even appear to be very holy, loving and full of many things which we may not be. But our testimony before God is what we are in a given situation. God, who knows the truth, looks at the heart. He searches the deeper things of our heart.
Life of Job
Looking at Job’s situation, his close friends came along. They were righteous people in the sight of the world and maybe, even before God. They quoted Scriptural references, and said that God is righteous. Applying all their wisdom, logic, they earnestly told Job that he must have done something wrong. They tried to be genuinely right but they were genuinely wrong.
In the book of Job, chapters 12-14, Job himself tried to understand his condition. His family, children, property and position had all disappeared. Even as he contemplated if he had done something wrong in his youth, he declared that he had never done anything bad that God would be so angry with him. Job genuinely tried to find a justification but he too was genuinely wrong. Neither Job’s friends nor Job knew what was happening in the background. Satan was using Job’s situation in order to slander God. But God was using the same situation to glorify His name and to establish the genuineness of Job’s faith.
Lessons of Pain from Job’s life
1. Let’s not exaggerate
Job’s agony lasted for nine months of the 200+ years that he lived on the earth. Today, we magnify a few months of pain in our lives and pronounce that our whole life has been miserable. There may be seasons of pain, grief, loss and hurt, but they will not last forever.
2. Let’s not judge
There might be consequences in our lives because of sin. Job was very careful about his testimony before God, constantly checking his life. But when we go through pain, it doesn’t always mean that God is angry with us. It is important for us to judge our thoughts and words before we spell out our judgment towards one another. God, who is sovereign, moves in our lives very powerfully.
How do we respond?
Situations in our lives may be because of a temptation from the devil or a test of God. But the way we respond to them matters. It is necessary for us to respond as Job responded. Job was very frustrated and rightfully so. He had lost everything – money, position, property, children, health. His well-meaning friends weren’t of much comfort either. But in Job 13, he makes a wonderful statement.
Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.
Only two things do not do to me,
Then I will not hide myself from You:
Withdraw Your hand far from me,
And let not the dread of You make me afraid.
Job 13:15, 20, 21
Job’s two fold request
- Do not withdraw your hand far from me.
- Let not the dread of you make me afraid.
Somewhere, even in the midst of all this pain and loss, he still believed that God’s hand was over him. Although, it seemed to be the darkest event of his life, he still said, I will trust in Him. Job’s faith rang loud in the din of despair.
When God blesses us, we are happy and ready to obey God. But when God allows painful situations in our life, we don’t feel like obeying or trusting God. That speaks about the shallowness of our faith. The firmness of our faith is declared by the life that we live in the midst of pain and grief.
In God’s kingdom, it is very easy for us to point fingers and judge another person. I like Narendra Modi ji and Kejriwal but I can be sometimes irritated with them. Maybe it’s some person whom we don’t like or whose attitude we can’t stand. We are called to be light bearers for each other. Even if there is something genuinely wrong, we must bless that person, stand alongside them and build them up. Christ calls us to bow down and conquer. No irritations, no judgments.
My Redeemer lives
He has fenced up my way, so that I cannot pass;
And He has set darkness in my paths.
9 He has stripped me of my glory,
And taken the crown from my head.
10 He breaks me down on every side,
And I am gone;
My hope He has uprooted like a tree.
11 He has also kindled His wrath against me,
And He counts me as one of His enemies.
12 His troops come together
And build up their road against me;
They encamp all around my tent.
13 “He has removed my brothers far from me,
And my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.
14 My relatives have failed,
And my close friends have forgotten me.
15 Those who dwell in my house, and my maidservants,
Count me as a stranger;
I am an alien in their sight.
16 I call my servant, but he gives no answer;
I beg him with my mouth.
17 My breath is offensive to my wife,
And I am repulsive to the children of my own body.
18 Even young children despise me;
I arise, and they speak against me.
19 All my close friends abhor me,
And those whom I love have turned against me.
20 My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh,
And I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
21 “Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends,
For the hand of God has struck me!
22 Why do you persecute me as God does,
And are not satisfied with my flesh?
23 “Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
24 That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job had come to a point of losing every hope of recovery. He seemed to be dying. His faith in God was intact but he complained against God’s brutal treatment.
God had taken every glory out of his life and given him enemies. His relatives and friends had forgotten him. His maidservants treated him like a stranger. Young children around despised him. His own wife had turned against him. His health was failing. The richest man in the East had literally become a nobody.
Then he goes on to make this powerful statement, For I know that my Redeemer lives. And He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.
Some scholars have interpreted this statement as Job being lifted up successfully in life subsequently. But many others say that it refers to Job seeing the Redeemer in flesh.
Today there is hopelessness everywhere. No money, no job, no open doors, no help from any direction, but let us be encouraged that our Redeemer lives.
Maybe we have been longing for and praying for years together for something and nothing has happened yet so far, but let us be encouraged that our Redeemer is not dead. He is alive and able to bring us up victoriously.
Even if our spouses, relatives, friends, colleagues and everyone in our lives have turned against us, one thing is for certain. The one who caught hold of us is able to lift us up with Him. He will not leave us or make us ashamed. Our Redeemer lives.
Six years ago, my son Sean enrolled in a skating school. I was sitting on the benches and watching him skate. I noticed a bigger boy who repeatedly kept pushing Sean down. Sean would tearfully look at me and indicate that he didn’t want to continue. But I encouraged him to keep going. After observing this scene for a while, I lost my patience. I caught hold of the other boy and shouted at him for hurting my son. Meanwhile, that boy’s father walked over to me and started fighting with me for screaming at his son. Everybody gathered around. One of my friends tried to calm me down and reminded me that I was a Pastor and shouldn’t be behaving like this. But I said, whatever it maybe, how could that boy treat my son like that?
A physical father like me cannot bear to see his son or daughter getting hurt. I may, out of that love for my son, respond in anger. If that is so, then how can our Heavenly Father not stand up for us, when we go through pain and grief?
In the past 20 years of my Christian life, I have seen ups and downs in life. But in all those situations, I can say that the God in whom I put my trust didn’t fail me. My Redeemer lives.
Our testimony matters
We need to be constantly watchful of our testimony. Very easily, we speak lies, cheat someone or commit some sin. But we must remember that a Christian cannot do such things. Our conscience must be affected. No matter where the enemy leads us – temptation, slandering, lying, stealing – we need to be led by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. As we are mindful of our lives, we can stand in any situation and boldly declare that ‘My Redeemer lives’.
Our age or the state or stage of our lives doesn’t matter. Moses started his ministry after 80 yrs. Abraham was blessed after 100 yrs. My father committed his life to Jesus when he was in his 50s and shortly after that he passed away. Recently, I met a man who had come for a prayer meeting when my father was saved. After coming to the prayer meeting, he gave his life to Christ. Today he is a pastor. My father may have thought what good could come out of his life, but today there is a pastor who was birthed out of his life.
God can transform our life at any stage. We must not lose hope. He is able to take over, heal, deliver and provide. Those who trust in horses and chariots will fail, but those who put their trust in the name of God will not fail.
God’s blessing is not just materialistic provision but the blessing of the joy of the Lord and of knowing that He is still in control.
Where we show up by faith, God will show up in power. Where we show up and lift up our faith, He will come and seal it with His power. Let’s not be discouraged or dismayed by the situations in life.
We need to be watchful of our testimony before God. Let’s commit to keep checking on our lives, words, attitudes, actions and thoughts. If anything can stand for us, it is our character and faith.