“Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (Job 42:3b)
As we end the book of Job we also end the month of January. January in the Northeast is cold, dreary and dismal but as it ends we can start to see the early glimpses of what will be spring and the restoring of nature. This is much like the end of Job, a book filled with suffering and ridicule that ends in restoration and hope. Like Job many of us experience life events, some tragic, that can create hurt in our hearts that if left to fester will eventually turn the hurt to bitterness and ultimately a “hard heart”. This past Sunday my pastor’s sermon was just that, the hurt that grows because we have lost trust in God. In Job 1:1 we first experience the man that Job was, “…blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” Job was prosperous, disciplined and virtuous yet, evil found a way into his life. I have to admit that if I was in Job’s place I might have responded differently than he did. Jobs’ immediate reaction was to worship God first, he didn’t curse God although his wife suggested it and he did not have a “hard heart.” He did mourn his losses and he even struggled with questions but in the end, he never stopped loving God or believing that God would bring him through his trials and guess what…God didn’t disappoint, but then again He never does.
Several years ago Brennan Manning wrote a book called Ruthless Trust and it is his definition of trust that I want to share today. He writes, “Ruthless trust is the uncompromising trust that God loves you, no matter what you have done or what you may do, and that God is good, whether or not He intervenes in the midst of your pain. It is a child-like confidence that God will never abandon you, that He is at work in your life, even when you don’t feel His presence or see His Hand. He asks that we pray from the heaert, ‘Abba, into your hands I entrust my body, mind, and spirit and this entire day – morning, afternoon, evening, and night. Whatever you want of me, I want of me, falling into you and trusting in you in the midst of my life. Into your heart I entrust my heart, feeble, distracted, insecure, uncertain. Abba, unto you, I abandon myself in Jesus our Lord. Amen.'”
According to Manning the formula for ruthless trust is “FAITH + HOPE = TRUST”. Faith is belief that God is; hope is believing that God will do what He has promised and trust is living with absolute confidence in the Father’s acceptance and unconditional love, and totally abandoning yourself to whatever He asks you to do, even if it doesn’t make sense. Like Job, today think about how many things in your life might not make sense, how much wasted time you’ve spent being anxious or confused about your circumstances when if we only trusted God we would be restored (Philippians 4:6). Sometimes there are obstacles to trusting God. Edward Farrell in his book, Prayer is a Hunger, lists amnesia, inertia, and manana as the three greatest obstacles to trust. He writes, “we are all subject to forgetfulness of God’s faithfulness in the past, laziness to act on the divine promise, and postponing until tomorrow what Jesus is asking of us today: childlike abandonment in trust.”
The Book of Job is a painful read but it challenges us to give God our complete trust. It challenged me to look within myself and recognize what obstacles are there that keep me from that “childlike abandonment” to Him. Like myself, I hope that each of you reading this today think about the obstacles in your own life, is it your own self-esteem, insecurity, feelings of inadequacy or simply fear. Manning writes that he feels the greatest obstacle is not believing how much you are loved, “You will trust Him to the degree that you know you are loved by Him.”
My prayer as we end Job is that we learn to understand the total love Jesus has for us, He is not looking for the perfect specimen, He is looking for the flaws…it is the flaws that allow us to be restored.
Seeking glimpses of spring,