Thursday, November 17, 2005

The life of Job

Yesterday, I decided it was high time to listen to John Piper’s poem on the Book of Job. I usually listen to it at least once a month, but haven’t since Katrina (which was nearly 3 months ago! Whew!!)

I am always amazed, humbled, broken and encouraged when I listen to this poem. My response is not simply because I enjoy poetry or because Piper has a way of saying things or pricking my heart as no one else can…but because of the truth of scripture and the example found in the life of Job.

In the opening section of the poem, Piper says “Each day Job would lift His hands to God & wonder why he’s spared the rod of suffering…” Then, when it is obvious to him that the Lord required his children of him, Job says (through Piper) “I yield to what you have decreed…” This kills me every time. His children were what he treasured above his land and wealth and status. Each day he would rise and pray for them, asking the Lord to forgive not just their sins, but their “errors.” Each week he would offer a sacrifice for their sins. Next to his own right standing with God, it was the heart of Job that his children would also be right with the Lord and he was willing to do whatever he could to help their obvious lack of love for God.

I can’t listen to that without thinking of my own precious ones. “I yield to what you have decreed”…I yield to them being taken…to their being horribly killed…to their “premature” death (by our standards anyway). As I type that, I feel the lump rising in my throat.

After Job had received the word that not one, or three, but ALL of his children (7 sons and – I think – 3 daughters) “the servants waited to see what Job would do & how he might deal with his God.”

“At last He rose, and took a knife,
and passed it like a razor over all his silver head,
and tore his shawl and robe,
and fell face down upon the ground and lay there till the dawn.
The servants knelt by him in fright,
And heard him whisper through the night:
"I came with nothing from the womb,
I go with nothing to the tomb.
God gave me children freely, then
He took them to himself again.
At last I taste the bitter rod,
My wise and ever blessed God.”

Piper ends this section of the poem with,
"Learn the lesson of the rod, this treasure that we have in God.
He is not poor or much enticed who loses everything but Christ.”
(Oh, Piper, I've missed you!)

When Job went to the altar that morning, stained with the blood of previous sacrifices, he had no idea the Lord would demand the blood of his children. Who could or would think that…who would want to? Who would willingly live through that…and the personal and physical suffering that followed the loss of his children? No one would sign up for that on purpose. But, stepping back from the fear that prospect causes, from the loss and pain, and looking at the entirety of Job…the aerial view of his story…the example of Job would not be what it is without suffering.

I know we can all look at our lives and say, “Were it not for this denial, this bit of suffering, this trial, I would not be who I am today…God indeed worked it out for good.”

Yet, when these horrors knock at our door, we want to bar and lock it and keep them out. But that is not the way of God.

This morning, I read the following:

Luke 22:32 I have prayed for thee, that they faith fail not
These words have helped me mightily of late, and chiefly because of that for which our Lord prayed. He did not pray that Peter would be delivered from the strain of life in a cruel Roman prison, or from a torturing death. But He did pray that, through all that lay ahead, his faith would not fail…So the words were searching as well as comforting. What do I, in my inmost heart, desire? Is it ease or relief from the undesired, the unexplained? Is it any merely earthly good? Then my prayers for others will not do much for them; a fountain cannot rise higher than its spring. Perhaps this is why our prayer are sometimes ineffectual. But the thought swings back to comfort again. He ever liveth to make intercession for us. He will not prayer weaker prayers, easier prayer for us than He prayed for Himself and then for His disciple. He will enable us to live the life which makes the prayer of John 12:27 possible, and then he will lead us on to the place where we can pray as He prayed for His dear Peter.
(Amy Carmichael, from “Edges of His Ways”)

We are promised not freedom from trials and true suffering, but that we will be given all we need to come through it if we set our hearts to “yield to what He has decreed.”

There are times when, in the face of suffering or denials (or even in the face of thoughts of possible suffering and denial), I feel that I am clinging “with feeble fingers to the ledge of [His] great grace.” (Job, by John Piper) But, if I listen and take a moment to be still before my God, I am assured that, should my fingers slip, underneath me are the everlasting arms.

"I wish Thy way,
But when in me myself would rise,
And long for something otherwise,
Then, Holy One, take sword and spear,
And slay."

"Lord, grant to me a quiet mind,
That trusting Thee--for Thou art kind--
I may go on without a fear,
For Thou, my Lord, art always near."

"See in this which seems to stir up
all you most wish were not stirred up--
see in it a chance to die to self in every form.
Accept it as just that--a chance to die."

--Amy Carmichael


  1. Hey girl! Miss ya! {{Hugs!}}

    I finally have a Dr.'s appt. to the hopefully, I can find out what's going on with my voice. I hate not being able to call you more. It's been really strained and I pretty much come home and talk as little as possible to recuperate so that I return to school the next day.

    Anyway, that's a great post. I know you are dealing with a lot these days. God has been building you up for this for a long time...I think, deep down, you already know that.

    Thanks for stopping by at my that your first comment? You need to make that a more frequent habit...I love hearing from you!

    Love ya! :-)

  2. One more thing...I'm not playing "hooky" from church. BayouBoy started throwing up after I was already dressed for church. Today was our annual Thanksgiving's ok though...we'll have plenty to eat on Thursday. Not sweatin' it. *insert cheesey grin*