Friday, April 24, 2009

The End of Job's Story...

The story of Job ends with his wealth and posterity restored. So then, what is the point of the story? Are the rewards of Job's faithfulness and integrity to be understood in terms of the restoration of his fortunes? Are all things as they were? Not all!

The Job of the first chapter was perfect, blessed, and without adversity. But he had never seen the splendor and glory of God. The Job of the last chapter has been sorely afflicted, and those times cannot be forgotten. Job has been deeply wounded. But he has survivied warfare with God; he has seen God.

The Spirit of God moves in the lives of believers in a variety of ways. He draws us into God's presence so we may receive the blessings of salvation. He continues to move in our lives, sometimes in a gentle and restful breeze, and at other times like the winds of a great storm that disrupts our lives. The Spirit's work in our lives is to draw us into God's holiness so we may experience his glory. We prefer to experience His glory rather than His holiness. But as Job testifies, we can experience His glory ONLY after we have been confronted by His holiness.

As Spirit-filled believers, we must make room in our theology for a God who is utterly free from our sentimental caricatures. We must make room in our spirituality for profound lament. We should recognize that true victory does not come without intense struggle. We must give room for the Spirit of God to blow mightily through our lives and through our churches. In doing so, we may find ourselves wounded, but whole, and prayerfully, holy.

"How could God give up the most loved of His saints for the diversion of the devil, take from him h is children, smite him with sore boils so that he cleansed the corruption from his sores with potsherd -- and for no object except to boast to the devil 'See what My saint can suffer for My sake.' But the greatness of it lies just in the fact that it is a mystery -- that the passing earthly show and the eternal verity are brought together in it. In the face of the earthly truth, the eternal truth is accomplished. The Creator, just as on the first days of creation He ended each day with praise: "That is good that I have created,' looks upon Job and again praises His creation. And Job, praising the Lord, serves not only Him but all His creation for generations and generations, and for ever and ever, since for that he was ordained. Good heavens, what a book it is, and what lessons there are in it! What a book the Bible is, what a miracle, what strength is given with it to man! It is like a mould cast of the world and man and human nature, everything is there, and a law for everything for all the ages. And what mysteries are solved and revealed! God raises Job again, gives him wealth again. Many years pass by, and he has other children and loves them. But how could he love those new ones when those first children are no more, when he has lost them? Remembering them, how could he be fully happy with those new ones, however dear the new ones might be? But he could, he could. It's the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet, tender joy." (Father Zossima - from The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky)

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