…to be unsatisfied if all I have is the love of God.
In my studies of “I Refuse,” I’ve noticed that I write in a context. When I consider the “I refuse” statements, I often remember the circumstances I penned them. When I give examples or teach on a passage, I admit that I have faces and events in mind. I cannot divorce myself from this context when I write. Perhaps it explains why writers are told to write that which they know. I know of the circumstances and convictions of which I speak. Some of “I refuse” convictions come from trial or even pain inflicted by others. I do not need to name names. Others come from joy God formed in my heart. This one comes from my own shortcoming. I like my stuff and rely on my own wisdom.
As I said, I write in a context. At this time, I am evaluating income and spending. If the worst case scenario happens, I will need to make some changes in the family budget. We will cut cable. We will need to be more diligent on use of electricity, gas, and gasoline. We will cut out some of the other extras of life. What really frustrates me is that I could have easily absorbed these cuts if I had been a better manager in years past, but that is another story. So today, when considering the loss and what could be done, I began to feel a little sorry for myself. I do not want to face my kids and say, “Sorry…daddy can’t provide this anymore.” It’s not like we will lose our home. Yes, I can see an unhealthy pride too. So, I need not fear; I need to remember Job.
Job had it all. He lived a comfortable life. He seemed to have plenty in the bank account and paid his bills on time. He did not live paycheck to paycheck. But in one day, Job lost his vast herds, camels, sons & daughters, and his health. He was left with a bitter wife and poor friends. Look at what he said, and ask if you could say the same. I’m not sure I could, but I want to be there. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). Some observations are in order.
Job understood that this life is temporary.
We should come to a profound understanding: we start and we end. At conception, our bodies form from the union of two incomplete cells. Multiply, multiply, and multiply over again. If all goes well, we gulp down our first few breaths of air and separate from our mother. There is debate among theologians of when our soul starts. Does our soul exist beforehand or created at conception? I don’t remember earlier than five years old much less before birth. The bottom line is that I had a beginning. That, by default, makes me a creature and not a Creator. And, I plan on dying unless Jesus comes back first. I will end. In western PA, old cemeteries litter the landscape, and nature wipes the tombstones clean. Someday, my creature-ness will end. My name will be forgotten. All that I own and all that I have created will be bulldozed away. There is freedom in this. Job understood that. While we know part of his story, we do not know what he looked like or any other stories of his life. Very few live beyond their years in the pages of history, art, or literature. But that’s ok.
This existence is temporary. The one that continues through eternity is the big show. When I meet Jesus, my heart wants to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” He remembers and takes note. Only what I have done for and by Jesus will have any eternal significance. So, why sweat the loss of a few things?
Job understood that all he has or has not is from God
We are under the false assumption that we earn things. Yes, I know we punch a clock. I applaud working hard and earning a living. However, the Lord gave me the breath and life to make that living. He provided the means and opportunity to work. He gave me the hands to create and mind to imagine. While I may draw a paycheck, he gets all the thanks for all that I have. This includes my career, home, future, time, children, and spouse. When I get this, I also acknowledge by default something special: He’s God. He’s sovereign. What I have or do not have is by his choice. Have I committed to follow him or not? If so, I take what I get. This is raw sovereignty at work! By all means he listens to my requests of not just what I think I need but also my wants. He gives them if it serves his purpose. He does NOT exist to give me stuff.
We make God out to be less than he is. Some feel he is a Santa Clause who fills the list we send in the form of prayers. Yes, he does give and listen. But he is much more than St. Nick. Some feel he is a laundryman. He cleans up our messes. Thank God he does! He is busy restoring our souls to the original specifications. But, this is not the sum total of who he is. Some feel he is the blue bird of happiness sent only to bless us. Yes, he does bless, but this is not the sum total of who he is. God gives us so much. But, we have to accept that he does so for his own sake. I want to glorify God and make him known. That is an act of submission. I should then be willing to take whatever he gives me with thankfulness.
Job understood that God is praised regardless.
Here is the hard part. This is hard even to imagine. Take it all away. No home, car, job. Your kids (if you ever had them) are gone. Your spouse is no help. You have barely enough clothes to cover body. It’s cold. You’re sick. No one likes you. You can’t even sleep due to the discomfort of your sores. You’re thankful just to get out of the wind and rain. Others abandon respect for you. Your friends won’t even take you in. Still ready to praise God? We know the “right” answer. We hope that we have the wherewithal to lift our hands to praise. It does not mean that we do not mourn or pray. It does not mean that we cannot ask for relief. But, can we praise? Can we avoid blaming God or the people who caused our demise? Can we even avoid blaming Satan? I want to worship if it’s all gone. Now, I am not looking for the commitment to be tested! But, I want the heart that will praise. Job always seemed to have that heart even in a state of wealth and plenty. So, the issue does not need to be forced. I can learn it now. So, by his grace, if I lose it all, I refuse to be unsatisfied if all I have is the love of God. I can never and will never lose that! Job never did. That remains. I can start where I am at. So, if I do lose some income, I will be satisfied not with what I have left. I will be satisfied with what I can never lose. That’s weird.