If Blessing Means that Good Things Happen to us, What Then Does it Mean When Bad Things Happen?

It has to be a blessing when good things happen to us, right?
[Job said] “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:21-22, NIV). “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10, NIV).

The story of Job is full of things that are difficult to understand, much like life sometimes… Job was an upright, blameless man who loved God and shunned evil. Satan asked for and received permission to test Job’s love for God, claiming that Job only loved God because he was protected from misfortune. Satan then destroyed all that Job had, claiming not just his worldly goods but also the lives of his children as well.

Job’s 3 “friends” came around to counsel him, and they relied upon the conventional wisdom that said misfortune only happened to those who sinned. And really, don’t most of us think that we are somehow to blame for random bad things that happen to us? That there is some sort of vigilante justice loose in the universe, “karma” that brings evil upon those who commit evil? When something bad happens, don’t we cry out, “What have I done to deserve this?!” Job stubbornly refused to confess his sin (he actually was upright and blameless in this mess), and refused to blame God. Even his wife told him to “curse God, and die!” Yet he held on to his faith.

The story of Job is written primarily to countermand the idea that bad things happen only to those who do bad things, and the assumption that anyone who has suffered misfortune or impairment must have done something to deserve it. Now, yes, there is cause and effect, and yes, sometimes actions have consequences, but Job teaches that not every tragedy happens because we deserve it.

Evil can happen because we live in a fallen world where there is no guarantee of safety. Satan roams this world as a spiritual terrorist, randomly causing bad things to happen in the hope that he will disturb any notion of truth, faith or love that may exist. If the Great Deceiver can use tragedy (or even cause and effect) to get someone to blame God or deny Him, then the devil wins.

Destruction is Satan’s handiwork, and cynicism is Satan’s playground. Those things, along with self-righteousness and being judgmental, are the tools he uses to disrupt lives and destroy testimonies. But Job refused to be cynical, and he continued to honor the Lord. He did have to realize that he was not prosperous because of his own righteousness, and that we can’t manipulate blessing by being righteous. Even in his own earthly righteousness, Job had room to grow in his understanding about the Lord, and room to be honest with his God.

blessing

Job discovered that blessing was not in his self-righteousness, and not in his stuff. Blessing ONLY comes from a sovereign God, and our growth comes from acknowledging Who. He. Is. In 42:2 Job said, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” There are perhaps in this universe things “too wonderful for us to know” at this point. We will certainly know them someday, but perhaps for now, simply knowing God IS the blessing. Once we figure that out, well then stuff is just stuff.

Curse? Or Blessing?

If you’re rich, you’re blessed up: that’s messed up,
You have to stay confessed up, just having yourself a full cup
Won’t stop you being stressed up.
People all want things from God, they just can’t get enough;
But what about when everything goes bad, and things are tough?
Stop and realize this: our blessings don’t depend on stuff.
People say “I’m blessed” if fame and fortune come to them,
But blessings don’t just come from God: the blessing, friend, is HIM.
Everything is His, and every part of every day:
God blesses us so we can give His blessings all away.
Our blessings are not stuff, but HIM. That’s all I have to say.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Locusts of Sin Bring Destruction to Everything they Touch

I remember seeing an old movie about some settlers on the prairie who were attacked by a swarm of locusts. The insects literally darkened the sky like a cloud and brought darkness and fear everywhere they went. These clouds of millions of bugs literally consumed all of the crops in their path. These kinds of swarms of Locusts came sweeping through Biblical lands from time to time, eating crops, consuming future food supplies and leaving devastation in their wake…

locusts

Here in the 30th book of the Bible, Joel compares the judgment day of the Lord to such an event, a time of fear and devastation. “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity…Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things! “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…“ (Joel 2:11-13; 21; 25, NIV)

The “Minor” prophets delivered messages that warned about the impending Day of the Lord, a day of judgment and calamity brought about by the unfaithfulness of Israel. God’s intent to allow judgment to fall on Israel is a major theme in the Minor Prophets. Israel is warned that if they keep following little gods, they will indeed encounter justice at the hands of the Living God.

There is, however another theme that stands out like a beautiful flower growing alone on a rough mountain ledge: restoration. God sends the warnings repeatedly to call Israel back to Himself. We have the benefit of hindsight, and yes, Israel left God; they experienced the total devastation akin to locusts eating all of their crops. At the risk of trivializing calamity,  the warnings God gave are actually more significant than the real tragedies that befell Israel.

God’s consistent message was: Sin has consequences, and if you choose to live in sin, you will experience devastation and death. Stay with me, and you’ll be safe and protected. Return to me in genuine, heart-felt repentance, and you will know nothing but grace and compassion. If you don’t choose the locusts of sin, you’ll have my blessing instead!
Two thoughts occur to me here: we all have a tendency to “rend our garments but not our hearts.” First, acting like a Christian for others to see is not the same thing as being yielded and sold out to God. (I know this from years of experience). Remember that He looks upon our hearts, not just our outward behavior.

Second, when we turn to our Father with genuine humility, God will restore us. In Old Testament times, people who felt compelled to repent made a public display of it, tearing their clothes and laying prostrate on the street. Joel tells us to turn to the Lord, to rend our hearts and not just our garments. He says that God intends to make us whole, and to rebuild what our sinful choices have torn down, what the locusts of sin have destroyed.

After all that Job experienced, after all of the devastation and loss, when he turned back to God, his life was restored. Job 42:10 says “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” His repentance resulted in restoration and revival. So, rend your heart instead of your garments! If you are acting like a Christian but harboring locusts, clean house!

Farmers labored every day to earn a living from their fields,
Applying muscle, toil and sweat to try to get the greatest yields.
And then the cloud appeared– you couldn’t even do the math–
As locusts by the millions brought destruction in their path.
They ate the crops, the flowers, and they even ate the grass;
They only thought of selfish appetite when they would pass.
Well, sin is just like that. It only thinks of selfish things,
And doesn’t even care about the destruction that it brings;
It comes into your life and can destroy your peace of mind,
Without regard to all the pain and death it leaves behind…
God said, “Turn to me with all your heart, and not for show–
And I will give you grace, and let compassion overflow.”
If sin has hurt and knocked you down, don’t think that you are beaten
For God says he’ll repay you for the lost years that were eaten!
If you can turn away from sin, and simply trust the Lord,
You may just be surprised to see the things that He restored.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread