In facing unexpected storms, Mildred Witte Struven shared this wonderful insight, “A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain” (Bits and Pieces, September 19, 1991, p.6.).
If you haven’t read about the story of Job, it provides an excellent overview of the battle we face when facing unexpected storms. The setting of the book of Job began with God and Satan having a conversation.
To begin with, God boasted about Job’s faith (Job 1:8-12) and shared His pleasure over his faith:
“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (1:1, 4-5,8). However, Satan disagreed and looked at Job’s faith with contempt: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land” (1:9-10). Then Satan proposed a plan in proving Job’s faith as fake: “But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” (1:11). Instead of defending Job, God agreed to Satan’s proposal: “The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord” (1:12).
What did Satan unleash against Job? Satan targeted and decimated his properties and possessions:
13One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”16While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”17While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
In an instant, Job’s first three storms made him poor in an instant from being the richest man in his time” (Job 1:3). The worst of it all came when a tornado hit where Job’s children gathered and killed on one swoop:
18While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”IN an instant, Job lost his ten children.” (Job 1:2)
In their next encounter, God filled with pleasure at Job’s integrity, proved Satan wrong about Job:
“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” (2:3).
Satan disagreed and blurted out another accusation “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.” (2:4). Then he proposed the action of turning Job against God: But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” (2:5a). God agreed to the proposal with a specific restriction: The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life” (2:5b). Armed with another opportunity, Satan immediately, “…afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes” (2:6-8). In this unexpected storm, Job’s next storm was a physical attack of painful sores all over his body” (Job 1:2). Losing children, Job’s wife snapped and with anger confronted Job: “His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” (2:9-10).
Job’s next storm was losing moral and spiritual support from his wife” (Job 1:2). Yet in all of these things, Job stood on his faith and integrity. Somebody said, “In adversity we usually want God to do a removing job when He wants to do an improving job. To realize the worth of the anchor, we need to feel the storm.
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What are the lessons we can learn from Job’s journey in facing unexpected storms? Primarily, we need our faith in God as reliable as it can be through the storms of life. Oswald Chambers reminds us, “Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace.”
Next, let the integrity of our faith in God’s ways and means becomes resilient as the storm intensifies. J.C. Ferdinand shared an interesting illustration relevant to this situation: A bell buoy rings only during storms. The beating of the waves and wind bring out the music that is within it, so too do trials reveal what is inside a person.
Finally, let our commitment to maintaining God’s honour becomes resolute in the midst of the storm. How do we accomplish all of these things? Overcoming is not our goal when facing unexpected storms. It is showcasing our faith in a God who promised His provision, protection and power. Here’s something I found in seeing God at work and how we must respond in the middle of unexpected storms:
God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our life through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way;
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love. ~Source Unknown.
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