In our family devotions we have started reading about Job. In the first chapter, the Lord gives Satan permission to strike all that Job has. His cattle, oxen, donkeys, camels, servants, and children were all destroyed. Here was a man that in our eyes would have nothing to be thankful for. Yet what did he say?
"Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped. And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed by the name of the Lord.' In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." (Job 1:20-22, emphasis added)
Yesterday at church, Dad preached out of Phillipians. When Paul was writing this book he was in prison, chained between two guards. We already know what he has suffered for the sake of Christ:
"Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from the Gentiles, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and in hardship, through many sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. ( 2 Corinthians 11:24-27)
After having experienced all of this, was Paul bitter? In the language of Paul: By no means! On the contray, Phillipians is full of Paul's rejoicings:
"Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me." (Philippians 2:17-18)
"Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I will say, Rejoice......do not be anxious about anything but in everything in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
"...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13)
What was it that caused these two men to glorify and praise God even when severe adversity struck them? I believe it is because they understood and rested in the nature of God and His perfect soverignty. They knew and understood that everything that happens (whether good or bad), happens because it fulfills God's wonderful plan to glorify Himself:
"Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.....With God are wisdom and might; He has counsel and understanding. If He tears down, none can rebuild; if He shuts a man in, none can open. If He witholds the waters, they dry up; if He sends them out, they overwhelm the land. With Him are strength and sound wisdom; the decieved and the deciever are His. He leads counselors away stripped, and judges He makes fools. He looses the bonds of kings and binds a waistcloth on their hips. He leads priests away stripped and overthrows the mighty.....He makes nations great, and He destroys them; He enlarges nations, and leads them away. (Job 12:9-10, 13-19, 23)
"In Him we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will...... ( Ephesians 1:11)
"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forevermore. Amen. (Romans 11:36)
I believe that when we embrace this doctrine, it reduces us to nothing and causes us to glorify God more; not to become arrogant (contrary to popular belief.)
" How can a man be in the right before God? If one wished to contend with Him, one could not answer Him once in a thousand times. He is wise in heart and mighty in strength--who has hardened himself against Him and succeeded? (Job 9:2-4)
"I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 'Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.' I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you; therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:2-6)
"Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?' Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make know the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy which He has prepared beforehand for glory---even us whom He has called..." (Romans 9:20-24a)
This doctine gives us such a security and hope in Him that we can say:
"Though He slay me, I will hope in Him." (Job 10:14)
With all this in mind, it bothers me when some say that this doctrine is not important or practical. On the contrary, it is the foundation upon which everything else is placed. It is the glasses through which we view every aspect of life, the armour with which we face every challenge, and the hope to which all else clings!