There is a scripture that I have had on my mind lately as the world has been on shut down and people are growing more perplexed by what is going on around them. I have found great comfort from a treasured resource when I have gone through problems and trials in life. I consider my books as my friends over the years. I have spent more time with them than anyone else. My library is full of “friends”, but there is one book that I return to again and again. It is a book with many authors and one distinct inspirer. I call Him the Watcher. One of the authors, who is said to have written the oldest book known to man, is named Job.
One day I realized that the only real faith is a faith that has been tested. Just the thought of this reminded me of things I have learned along the way, such as the refiner is always watching over the furnace. The story of Job is the story of setbacks and comebacks. It reminds us that our losses are not our bosses. Some would think what a great man Job was, but I think what a great God Job served. Job teaches those who want to be in the know, that trouble never has the final word unless you submit to it. Still, a lesson he has to teach us, and you can take it to the bank, is that there will be plenty of naysayers around who think their job is to encourage you to throw in the towel. You may think it is strange, but I want to share with you a couple of verses from Job’s diary. These verses may, over time, help you. They are found in Job 7:17,18, “What is man, that you should magnify him, and that you should set your heart upon him? That you should visit him every morning, and try him every moment?” Eugene Peterson expounds on this text, and I thought you might get a great deal out of it.
The Message Translation - “What are mortals anyway, that you bother with them, that you even give them the time of day? That you check up on them every morning, looking in on them to see how they’re doing? Let up on me, will you? Can’t you even let me spit in peace? Even suppose I’d sinned—how would that hurt you? You’re responsible for every human being. Don’t you have better things to do than pick on me? Why make a federal case out of me? Why don’t you just forgive my sins and start me off with a clean slate? The way things are going, I’ll soon be dead. You’ll look high and low, but I won’t be around.” David asked the same question, and even wrote a song about it. You can find it in Psalms 8, “What is man that you set your affection upon him?” Have you ever said, “Why me Lord?” Kris Kristofferson asked this question and wrote a song about it that became his biggest of his all-time hits. Some songs have a hook or a line you remember, but because Kris was a Rhodes Scholar in English literature, his songs were filled with line after line of memorable verse. He wrote much like Job did. It is Job that lets us in on the mystery, “You test the righteous every day.”
Looking back and looking forward to what is still an unknown, we need to remind ourselves of what the brother of Jesus has to say to us in regard to faith under pressure: James 1:2-4, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way.”
In the past, I have been chosen to be the executor of people’s wills. I learned a great deal about them and their lifestyles and what they loved by their checkbooks. You could tell where they had been, and you could also tell the things they were most interested in, in life. I want to take this time to thank you for the way you have supported the church through the years. The portion of James’ verse, “You know that under pressure your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors”, is exactly what has happened. Thank you for your love and faithfulness to what God has called us to do.
I believe in you,
Pastor Cleddie Keith