In the poetic Book of Job we learn that the trials of Job tested his fear of God, tested if he would avoid evil, and tested whether he would maintain his integrity.
Job’s trials began when the Sabeans fell upon all of Job’s sons and daughters. They killed the servants with the edge of the sword. They kidnapped Job’s eldest sons and stole their livestock. They abducted Job’s ten children. But Job feared God, avoided evil and maintained his integrity.
Fire of God fell from Heaven burned up the sheep, charred the servants and consumed all of them. Despite hearing about burnt livestock and charred workers, Job feared God, avoided evil and maintained his integrity.
Chaldeans raided Job’s servants from three different directions. They fell upon the camels. They killed those servants with the edge of the sword. They carried away the valuable sheep, oxen and she asses. Despite receiving this bad report —guess what? Job feared God, avoided evil and maintained his integrity.
The trials kept coming. This time a great wind from the wilderness came and struck the house, which fell upon the young men and killed them.
Job feared God, avoided evil and maintained his integrity so much that even after that destruction and preceding calamities that befell him, he did something we all should do when we are faced with calamity. Job fixated his attention on the LORD rather than focusing on his problems.
So Job arose that day, rent his cloak, shaved his head, fell down upon the ground and worshipped the LORD his God.
“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither,” Job declared. “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Job’s trials continued when Satan struck Job with boils from the bottom of his foot to the top of his head. Job’s skin was so inflamed and his body was so irritated that he scraped himself with ceramic shard to relieve his itching and suffering.
But still, Job feared God, avoided evil and maintained his integrity.
Job sat down among the ashes. Job’s wife questioned whether Job should still maintain his integrity. She advised Job to curse God and die. Curse God and die? Was Mrs. Job advising Mr. Job to commit suicide? It certainly sounded like it.
“No,” Mr. Job probably thought, not listening to nor heeding Mrs. Job’s advice. “I will fear God! I will avoid evil! I will maintain my integrity!”
Choosing to live was downright hard! Job lost loved ones. Job lost his house, his possessions and his wealth. Job lost his health and his wife’s respect. Even Job’s three friends —Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite— questioned Job and disrespected Job’s God. But cursing God and dying was not an option! So despite all of Job’s trials, he feared God. Job avoided evil. Job maintained his integrity.
All of us have been attacked by the enemy. Many have lost a spouse, a child or loved one.
Due to COVID-19 some are laid-off, unemployed or underemployed. Some are dealing with financial uncertainty, financial instability or financial ruin. Many are facing divorce, are going through divorce or are recovering from divorce.
This New Year’s brings apprehension about the future. Will terrorists target our country and if so, when, where and how? Will earthquakes shake our land? Will lightning or drought or terrorism cause forest fires that engulfs rural communities? Will racial friction trigger rioting in urban communities? Will hurricanes or tornadoes blow away our cities or flood waters envelope our homes? What about the economy? What about the future? What about this or that and so on and so forth? The questions are endless.
We can’t control anything that could happen or may happen or will happen. But we can certainly control how we respond to such happenings.
Whatever you’re going through and whatever you’re dealing with, be like Job! Fixate your attention on the LORD rather than focus on the problems. Fear God, avoid evil and maintain your integrity.