“Then said his wife unto him, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said unto her, “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”
It’s perhaps the simplest thing in the world.
To hold on to one’s faith, to maintain their integrity when all is well and good in their lives and there are no deep and abiding challenges that fall before them. Those of faith, they rarely question God’s love or mercy, His compassion and His grace in their lives when all is well and there aren’t any struggles in their lives. Why would they though? All is good, all is well and there is nothing to cause them pain, or to make them concerned about God’s presence in their lives. In the most tangible of ways they are happy and they can abide in the peace of that comfort as their lives make sense to them.
Why not though? After all, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Through his entire life Job had given praise and glory to the Lord. He feared God and he turned from evil and it was counted to him as righteousness as, through the grace that brought the abiding faith into his life, the Lord knew him as upright and blameless. (Job 1:1) He would give sacrifices to the Lord each day just in the off chance that perhaps a sin had been committed so that it would not be held against any of his house or in his land. (Job 1:5) Yet now all he had, all that he drew comfort from amidst this temporal existence, all of his possessions and his family had been ripped away from him in the most brutal of fashions. And even still, whereas once someone might have been able to say, well, at least you have your health, he didn’t even have that anymore as his body was covered in boils.
Seeing all of this, the misery and the pain, the suffering and the sorrow that encompassed his life, his wife would come to him, baffled that he would still cling so desperately to his faith and to the Lord. “Dost thou still retain thine integrity?” She would ask dumbfounded. “Curse God and die.”
They were perhaps not the words of comfort he had hoped that she would give him, nor did they give him any solace amidst the hurt and the pain, the anguish and the agony that he felt. Yet, still, even as the burdens of this world came to bear down on him in the most significant of ways, as he felt the abiding weight of this worlds sorrow seeking to so ensnare him amidst the captivity that it had to bear for his life, the answer he would give would be a telling one. “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”
The Devil comes into people’s lives in different ways, in different times and through different means, but his mission is always the same. He wishes to trap up amidst the misery and the pain of this world, and through that, as he takes everything we have from us, he wants us to question God, to curse God and die. That way we might fall from grace, giving to him the only thing he cannot steal from us by his hands.
You see, Satan can rip from us everything that we have. He can take our homes, our money, our families, our health. He can cast us down to the pits of despair as little in our lives seems to make any sense anymore. Yet the one thing he cannot take from us is our faith. He cannot enter into our hearts to tear it out of us. He can pour on us challenge after challenge, he can let unrighteousness and wickedness rise up against us, he can let evil surround us threatening us in the most significant of ways until we have little to nothing left in our lives. But we cannot take from us our faith. That has to be freely handed over to him as we forsake the Lord amidst the darkness that the Devil seeks to encompass us with.
After all, it is our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus teaches us, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:28-30) Unable to pluck it from us, the old Adversary wants us to give it to him so that he might trample it under his foot that we might be given over to him.
It is then, when we do that, when we give that over to him, that our captivity is made complete and we are forever held in the bondage of his slavery.
His means of ensnaring us, of trapping us, of trying to destroy our spirits and our souls, they come into our lives through so many different struggles that we face. There the challenges may be physical or moral, they may be spiritual or temporal but they are a challenge.
But God does not abandon us to hopelessness amidst all of this, “For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.” (Psalm 9:18) The assurances of the Lord are clear, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24) Though the Devil may come like a roaring lion God shall walk beside us through all of the struggles, through all of the trials and the tribulations of this age, even when the good gives way to the bad and when evil seems to surround us even in its harshest of forms. We can draw hope in those promises, in that love and compassion, that mercy and grace that the Lord has for us through all of the days of our lives as He cares for us. Yes, it may seem as if all the world is given to the hurt and the agony of chaos forged by the Devil as challenges rise up and wicked people come forth to do unrighteousness in this corporeal plane, yet we have a blessed assurance from God that He shall walk beside us all the days of our lives.
Remember then the promise of the Lord, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) No matter what may happen, no matter what may come He will be there for you and with you, that you may not fall to the power of the wiles of the Devil. He will give you hope amidst your faith as you struggle in this world against powers and principalities that would rise up against you.
Therefore maintain your integrity amidst all of this, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12) For when you dwell amidst the love and the assurances, the promises and the faithfulness of the Lord there is no bondage or captivity, there is no slavery or hatred that the Devil can foist upon you. As the hymnist would write so we can also hold fast to, “God’s truth abideth still” for a “A mighty fortress is our God” and He shall never fail us or forsake us amidst the challenges of this life.
Lord, grant this trust and this truth unto us all.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.