Hope that Lasts

HOPE1

Reading: Job 18-21

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)

Have you ever been accused of something you know you did not do? Or, have you been falsely judged for doing what was right? How did you feel? How did you deal with it? Think with me for a moment.

Job 19:23-27 must be the pericope in this book best known and most loved by bible readers. Then at its very heart, we find Job’s confession of faith. Scholars may have some contention as to the identity of the “Redeemer” being referred to, but on a larger perspective, we can clearly see that Job expresses his confidence that God will ultimately vindicate (meaning, to clear someone of blame or suspicion) his servants in the face of all false accusations.

The Apostle Peter also exhorted us to stand firm in the midst of trial and injustice. He reasoned that, “this is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong. Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross, so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:21-25 MSG)

We may suffer for a while, but remember that our hope in Christ lasts. It is unchanging, imperishable and sure.

Advertisements

Wisdom for our “Why’s”

questions

Reading: Job 8-12

“In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”

I became fatherless at the age of three, with no clear explanation of why it had to happen that way. In my moments of solitude, I cried and sometimes questioned God. Twenty-six years have passed and there still are no concrete answers. Now I move our imaginary camera lens to you, for I am sure that you have your own story to tell. You have your personal version of what it feels like to be at a point where you could no longer provide a firm answer to the “why” questions of life, especially during times when it hurts the most.

Then, we take a pause from looking at ourselves and zoom our lens in towards Job. He is afflicted by unimaginable sorrow, excruciating pain and is seemingly interrogated by people who are close to him. A debate has brewed in their midst and Job was going through a rollercoaster of emotions. While most of us may have simply waited for him to quit, Job made a rebuttal that gripped me to the core.

He exclaimed, “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-10)

Job stepped back and tried to look at the bigger picture that God has already painted for him. Instead of focusing on himself, he chose to seek God’s fingerprints amidst his troubles. He may not have reached a clear rationale for all of his deep questions, but deep inside Job, he was able to discern that God has knit together every fabric of his life.

What are your pressing “why” questions in life today? How are you dealing with them?

Worship Amidst Pain

Title: Worship Amidst Pain

Reading: Job 1-7 

worship

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

Famous author by the name of C. S. Lewis wrote, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” This is easier said than accepted, I believe, for this is not the common worldview of man. When pains in life come, it is as if we are instinctively compelled to make truce with an angry God. Does this occur to you as well? What is your knee-jerk reaction to life’s difficulties?

Today’s passage directs our attention to Job, a man who had all the things that one could ever hope for – a great family, a thriving business and a good moral standing. Furthermore, he was a man who enjoyed an intimate relationship with the Lord. He was, in fact, noted to be “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1,8). However, almost like in a snap, things that he treasured in life were taken from him one by one. His flock, his servants, and above all, his children – gone!

Yet in his anguish, Job did not sin nor charge God with any wrong. Instead, he worshipped. Job understood that grieving and worshiping were not two incompatible roommates. He did both – a deep catharsis of the soul while praising the God who holds all things together!

I pray that we would all see our circumstances as Job does. May we allow God to use our pains as a stage where he can proclaim his goodness, mercy and steadfast love!

Prayer Focus: “O Lord, thank you for you are in control of all things. When times get tough and I do not understand, help me to lean on your grace, wisdom and strength. Amen.”

Beauty in Brokenness

I found this noteworthy passage when I was reading the booklet, “Mentoring for Life and Leadership” by Pastor Herman Moldez. It hit me since I’ve been counseling a couple of people the past weeks who have been overwhelmed by questions and doubts while going through faith-stretching situations.

I thought of sharing this with you, as you continue seeking the Lord at the state that you are now. Hang in there, my friend.  And may the Lord’s grace be so sufficient for you as you “process” your present personal struggles.  I’m sure it would be a tough “wrestling match” internally; but our God is faithful and loving — just as He was with Paul.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Living the Spirituality of Vulnerability

Paul prayed for three times and never received the answer he wanted.  He prayed for deliverance, instead he remained captive to demonic torment (see 2 Cor. 12:8).  Paul died with his “thorn in the flesh”.  He remained weak.  And he was not ashamed to admit it.  Why didn’t God fix Paul’s problem and pain?  As Paul struggled bitterly with the painful torment of the thorn buried in his flesh (literally or metaphorically), he discovered the power of God’s grace.

The wonder of God’s grace is exhibited in human weakness.  God’s love is felt deeply in times of suffering.  God became real to Paul – when He did not fix his pain, but instead gave him grace.  God invites us to walk with Him in the dark alleys and deep valleys of life to experience the reality of His presence (Psalm 23:4).  This does not deny the work of God to heal the sick, to restore broken marriages, to grow struggling churches to mega churches.  But we must not deprive ourselves of encountering God in human weakness and suffering.  The intimate experience of knowing God happens by our willingness to embrace both the crown and the cross, prosperity and poverty, joy and agony of serving the Lord (see Phil. 3:10; 4:10-13).

Rather than offering quick-fix solutions to people’s problems, perhaps we must learn to watch and wait on God.  Let us learn to live the spiritual life powerfully in times of darkness.  God can make Himself very real even in His silence.  God is at His best when life is at its worst.  So let us allow people to struggle with their own brokenness and in their own vulnerability that they may learn to embrace God’s love and encounter God’s power.  We may not be aware of it, but our persistent effort to help and give advice may only make people dependent on us instead of God.  Maybe that’s what we want – to feel needed and to perform our best trick and technique to solve the world’s problem.  We want credit.  And that’s the reason God made Paul endure his pain – to humble him and allow him to give God the glory.