What It Really Means to Fear God: A Lesson from Job 1

March 22, 2018

Have you ever wondered what it really means to fear God?

My twin infants had just gone down for the night. I was exhausted and well aware that they would be awake again soon.  The moment I closed my eyes, I began drifting off to sleep. Suddenly, the sound of my cell phone jolted me from my rest. My body was instantly tense, as though I knew something bad was coming.

“Hello?”

“Jodi?” My sister’s voice sounded strained. “Dad’s on his way to the hospital, he had a heart attack.” My own heart pounded rapidly as I jumped from my bed, all exhaustion completely forgotten.

When I arrived at the hospital that night, they took me to a separate waiting room.  I didn’t know it then but this is where they inform you that your loved one is gone.  When the doctor arrived to share this news, I was completely shocked.

The next months were filled with grief, anger, and nightmares.  But in those months, I learned something as well. The Lord gives and He takes away.

It sounds simple. But when you apply this in your own life, there is really nothing simple about it.  At the risk of coming across as a bit of a negative nelly, I’m going to ask you to consider a few things.

What if your home burned down while you were at the store today?  What if your family were in a car accident and you lost them all? How “in control” would you feel?

My hope is not to scare you but to illustrate this point:  Despite your best efforts, you are not in control.   You can not control a fire or a car accident. Those things are determined by someone who is a lot more powerful than you.  Your only choice is to be dependent on God and trust that he is working things together for your good.

Fortunately for us, he loves us even more than we can love our own children.  His desire for us it to see us prosper.

Recently, I was struck by something I read in Job that really illustrated this concept.

Job 1 – The Basic Storyline

In the first chapter of Job, he is described as someone who fears the Lord.  He was a wealthy and blameless man.  But Satan taunted the Lord,  claiming the Job’s fear of the Lord only existed because he had been protected. God allowed Satan to have control over everything and everyone in Job’s life.

Why would God allow Satan to control Job’s life if he was so faithful to God?

As humans, it’s natural for us to look at this story and think “Was God really working for Job’s good or was he just trying to prove something to Satan?”  And the truth is: probably a little bit of both (my opinion).   We can’t understand why God made the choices he did.

But we can understand something else. We can understand that from God’s perspective, losing your livelihood, your servants, and even your children are not as giant as it feels to us.    Let me explain.

It reminds me of a child who has a total meltdown when they realize they’ve left their favorite blankie at a hotel.   As a parent, we know that we are working things for good. You have called the hotel and they have already begun the process of mailing “blankie” home. But your child is distraught and can’t see the end of his/or her own despair.

It may be difficult for us, as humans, to liken losing a loved one to losing a blankie but from God’s perspective it’s a similar concept.  He is holding your loved ones safe in his hands.  To Him, death is a beginning, not an end. Also, he can see that you will be reunited in time and your despair will come to an end.

Do you still feel that despair? Of course.  Does God feel pain for you? Of course.  How could he not feel pain when a child he loves dearly is hurting. But his ways are high above ours.

But how could Job praise the Lord when he took away his children?

I think the answer to this questions lays in the words Job said in verse 21.
“Naked I came from the womb and Naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the Lord has taken away.” 

There is a level of humility in understanding how truly out of control we are.   Job understood this even more keenly after the loss of all he had. In one moment, he was happy, prosperous, and greatly blessed. In the next, he had lost everything that held meaning.

Job could have called out to God, blaming him for the all that he went through. But he had a level of maturity that most of us can only hope to achieve by the time we reach our deathbed.

How many times have you heard a child (maybe your own) call their mother or father mean?  How many times have you heard a teenager yell the words, “I hate you” in a parent’s direction?  Adults often feel like our complaints are justified but to God, we are acting like a teenager when we scream out in despair, “You’re ruining my life.”

God is acting in your best interest as you would act in the best interest of your child. But in our limited view, we can’t see the need for our circumstances.

Job knew that whether or not he could see the “why”,  his only option was to praise the Lord who has the power to give and take.  If he had any hope of restoration, of healing, he needed God to give it to him. After all, God was the one who had given him those things in the first place.

So what does Job 1 teach us?

God our father, is holding all of us in the palm of his hands. As scary as it may be, you don’t get to decide anything unless God allows you that opportunity.  So what is the best way to find favor with God?  Like us, God thrives on praise. In fact, Psalms 22:3 says that he “inhabits the praises of his people.”

We love to feel loved, affirmed and appreciated.  Nearly every human on earth would agree that it feels good when someone we love says, “Thank you for being amazing.”  Is it possible that we inherited this from our heavenly father?  He, too, loves when we appreciate how wonderful he is?
So stop saying prayers like “Lord PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make this work for me. I can’t understand why you aren’t  changing things.”

Instead, start saying prayers like ” Lord, please make this work for me.  I know you love me and you will favor me in every way possible. You know what is right and please help see it too. Thank you for all you do for me and for taking time to work out the plans for my life. Your ways are simply amazing.”

Are you interested in learning how to go deeper in your own bible study?

Check out the JtJ Study Method.

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Understanding the concept of "fearing God" isn't always the easiest. This bible study on Job 1 is a great way to make sense of a difficult concept! #biblestudy #Bookofjob #devotional

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