Grace and peace dear saints,
As I prepared to write this devotion, I kept wondering if you have been repeating the same questions I have. In this pandemic, do you keep gathering information and trying to answer the same questions over and over? How long will this last? What are the solutions to get back to work and our regular life? How will all this play out and what is the timeframe? We don’t like to admit failure, but are there times we fail in our trials? We may fall into the trap of the endless “what if” questions in regard to our work, health, wealth, relationships, worship, ministries, comforts, freedoms, or schedules; just about every aspect of our lives. We can easily lose confidence, peace, joy, or strength, and even our faith can fall flat. Are there times you blow it and become frustrated by trying to figure everything out in your mind? The questions of “what if” or “why” can keep coming back into our minds each day. What is the purpose behind all this? God is sovereign over all things including this new flu strain. Why does God allow this?
God’s word is such a treasure for believers. We know God’s voice, His word is true; we should run and take refuge in His word during trials to seek clarity, truth, and to be strengthened and comforted. However, sometimes when we read God’s word things are not so clear; we can remember verses that seem to contradict the particular situation we are facing. We are easily confused when things are bad. For example, if we lose financially, we may recall some Proverbs that speak to finances which cause us to question things. How do you read the following verses and make sense of them if you lost your job or may possibly lose your job or your 401k takes a beating in the market?
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established.”
Proverbs 11:24-25 “There is one who scatters, and [yet] increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, [and yet it results] only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”
What happened? Did we fail to uphold our end or not apply these conditions? Did I not honor God enough in my plans or work? Was I not walking in faith as I should? Have I not been generous enough? Did I fail in my faith? Does God not care? In a trial we can become overwhelmed and maybe even fail in our faith.
Well, there are answers to some of these questions. Like the commended Bereans, we must examine the scriptures; careful study will produce reward. Context must be our pursuit if we are to be good disciples. Proverbs is wisdom literature like Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. While other genres are primarily “believe and obey,” wisdom books are telling us to “think”. God in His grace gives us the general (not universal) principles of how He governs most of the time. These are insights into wise, godly living that generally come with reward, not universal promises that are always affirmed.
Job is a great example of a man who pleased the Lord and seemed to apply wise, godly living, while working hard, yet we remember the tremendous trials he endured that cost him everything but his life. The book of Job is the perfect balance to Proverbs. Both are true, and yet seem to give us different answers. You remember the part of the story where Job’s friends show up, give him a lot of truth, but are not much help. We can glean from Job’s friends that there are limits to truth. Not understanding the entire situation caused them to say some true things that were wrongly applied. They didn’t have all the information they needed to correctly understand Job’s problems, and there was no way they could, as God didn’t reveal his purpose to any man. Job never gets any answers from God on “why,” but rather Job gets a lot of questions thrown at him from God Himself.
Job and Proverbs offer great blessings in these times. God does bless us in this world according to His plan. The Proverbs are true and should be applied by all who desire to be wise, blessed, and godly. Should we be generous, and will God bless that? Does He prosper our lives with many blessings when we walk obediently and in faith? Yes, He does. But are there times where He does not and has other plans where He may never give us the answers we desire?
Brothers and sisters, if you are in a season with more questions than answers, take heed from Proverbs and walk obediently in godly living doing what you can with the cards you are dealt. Then, take heed from Job and remember God is God, His plans are bigger than ours, He is working through it all and doing things we may never know or understand, but He expects you to trust Him because He is God. During those times, trust God because He is God. Let all your focus turn to who He is and take comfort in Him. Worship Him through it all. He is pleased when we trust and obey whether we know, or cannot possibly know, the reasons for the trials we face and their purposes. Also, take comfort if you stumble and fail for He will not fail you. As we meditate on His love and grace, those wonderful attributes provide a refuge; they are greater than any of our failures.
42 Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘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.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”