When New Zealand was initially place in Level 4 Lockdown, today was the day when this phase was to be eased. Yet we learned this past Monday that this phase has been extended to this coming Monday. So we are still in Level 4 Lockdown. Most people I speak to are becoming a bit weary. Even more as we begin to understand that the restrictions we will experience during Level 3 will not be significantly different for most of us than what we are experiencing in Level 4.
Prolonged trails can be very difficult. If we aren’t careful with our thinking we can also find ourselves with a distorted view of the past and present – especially as we consider God’s role in all of this.
Job 29 is the continuation of Job’s final speech. Many Bible translations title chapters 29-30 as Job’s “Summary Defence”. In chapter 29, Job reflects back on the past, before all his suffering began.
Job was a wealthy man; a man of significant authority within his community; a man of generosity, wisdom and kindness. Job was among the aged and respected. There is no reason to doubt Job’s personal record here. We have an account of his wealth and stature in chapter 1 as well as God’s assessment of Job’s character. Job isn’t boasting here. He is simply painting a picture of how different his life was. Even more he is giving evidence of how he is most certainly not guilty of many of the sins his counsellors have falsely accused him of.
The one thing Job distorts here, which is exactly the same mistake we make too, is he presents his life as though God was near to him during his time of prosperity but distant from him now. It isn’t that Job doesn’t believe God is the One Who has brought this trial upon him. Job has already confessed he believe this. It is just that God has done this and is doing this from a distance.
Let’s be honest. We all feel the same way at times. Especially times of prolonged suffering or trial. We feel like God is distant from us. He is still out there somewhere. He is still Sovereign, but He is standing relationally distant from us. We fail to see that even God’s formative discipline, even His corrective discipline is an expression of God’s nearness to us – he is treating us as children as a loving Father.
This is no less true during times of trial as it is during times of ease.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Let us not make our circumstances or our feelings the standard by which we measure God’s love for us. Instead, let us interpret our lives and God’s Fatherly love for us through the declared truth of His Word.
Soli Deo Gloria
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