I just had to share what amazingly came up in my devotions a few moments ago. I was reading in Job 36-37. It’s still his youngest friend, Elihu, talking about men and God and really getting some things off his chest in a sense, but this is what I got (yes, I’m actually posting two whole chapters minus the first five verses because I want to share this that much!):
5 “God is mighty, but does not despise men;
he is mighty, and firm in his purpose.
6 He does not keep the wicked alive
but gives the afflicted their rights.
7 He does not take his eyes off the righteous;
he enthrones them with kings
and exalts them forever.
8 But if men are bound in chains,
held fast by cords of affliction,
9 he tells them what they have done—
that they have sinned arrogantly.
10 He makes them listen to correction
and commands them to repent of their evil.
11 If they obey and serve him,
they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity
and their years in contentment.
12 But if they do not listen,
they will perish by the sword [a]
and die without knowledge.
13 “The godless in heart harbor resentment;
even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help.
14 They die in their youth,
among male prostitutes of the shrines.
15 But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
he speaks to them in their affliction.
16 “He is wooing you from the jaws of distress
to a spacious place free from restriction,
to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.
17 But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked;
judgment and justice have taken hold of you.
18 Be careful that no one entices you by riches;
do not let a large bribe turn you aside.
19 Would your wealth
or even all your mighty efforts
sustain you so you would not be in distress?
20 Do not long for the night,
to drag people away from their homes. [b]
21 Beware of turning to evil,
which you seem to prefer to affliction.
22 “God is exalted in his power.
Who is a teacher like him?
23 Who has prescribed his ways for him,
or said to him, ‘You have done wrong’?
24 Remember to extol his work,
which men have praised in song.
25 All mankind has seen it;
men gaze on it from afar.
26 How great is God—beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out.
27 “He draws up the drops of water,
which distill as rain to the streams [c] ;
28 the clouds pour down their moisture
and abundant showers fall on mankind.
29 Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?
30 See how he scatters his lightning about him,
bathing the depths of the sea.
31 This is the way he governs [d] the nations
and provides food in abundance.
32 He fills his hands with lightning
and commands it to strike its mark.
33 His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach. [e]
1 “At this my heart pounds
and leaps from its place.
2 Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,
to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
3 He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
and sends it to the ends of the earth.
4 After that comes the sound of his roar;
he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
he holds nothing back.
5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
6 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’
and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’
7 So that all men he has made may know his work,
he stops every man from his labor. [f]
8 The animals take cover;
they remain in their dens.
9 The tempest comes out from its chamber,
the cold from the driving winds.
10 The breath of God produces ice,
and the broad waters become frozen.
11 He loads the clouds with moisture;
he scatters his lightning through them.
12 At his direction they swirl around
over the face of the whole earth
to do whatever he commands them.
13 He brings the clouds to punish men,
or to water his earth [g] and show his love.
14 “Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God’s wonders.
15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
and makes his lightning flash?
16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?
17 You who swelter in your clothes
when the land lies hushed under the south wind,
18 can you join him in spreading out the skies,
hard as a mirror of cast bronze?
19 “Tell us what we should say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.
20 Should he be told that I want to speak?
Would any man ask to be swallowed up?
21 Now no one can look at the sun,
bright as it is in the skies
after the wind has swept them clean.
22 Out of the north he comes in golden splendor;
God comes in awesome majesty.
23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
24 Therefore, men revere him,
for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart? [h] ”
Wow. Allow me to just highlight a few (of many) points that spoke to me.
First of all, verse 5, God is sovereign. He does not hate you, but has plans. It sounds really sunday school/condolences/cheesy hallmark card, but it’s absolutely true. He really does have the better perspective outside of time, which allows Him to easily keep an eye on you.
Verses 8-11. If (more like “when”) you mess up, God will let you know one way or another. If you are trapped in sin, or holding on to something that is not yours (meaning anything other than a relationship with God), He lets you know so you can have the bail out option and go back to Him. If you don’t, well, verses 12-14 pretty much spell out that if your life isn’t glorifying what it should… it’s going in the crapper. Pardon my frankness, but in all seriousness, I think we could all stand to be a little more honest with ourselves and others from time to time. Just repent. I promise you need to in some area. I get to in a lot of areas.
Verses 15-16 God knows when you are hurting. HE will deliver you from it. “He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.” Sounds like a pretty nice place for God to wine & dine us 🙂 I just love that image- he is wooing us from our distress. God really is the jealous lover who selflessly desires our good. We all need to be rescued in some area or another. The question is, when He asks for your hand, will you give it?
Verse 21: I love it when the Bible comes with straight up warning labels. It’s true tho- if we have the attitude of preferring sin to God, we miss the point of life.
Verse 22: I’m going to be a teacher, but I want to be a student forever as well. It’s such a true story- no one can make a lesson hit home like God can.
Verses 36:26-37:22 Verse 26 is obviously true, but I was intrigued by the fact that he describes God with views of nature and weather. These days people like to think they understand everything “scientifically,” but we are so far from actually getting it in some ways. But Elihu uses weather because it is the biggest and most powerful and mysterious thing he knows. I wish more people would stop and consider God when faced with our ridiculous snow/ice/crappy weather storms that plague this time of year.
Verses 23-24 pretty much sum it up. He awesome and beyond our reach, yet entirely just. Men obey and acknowledge God because God has acknowledged them and desires only our good. It’s that simple.
Overall, this passage was balm to my aching heart. As a good friend put it, I’m just plain vulnerable right now. It’s the time to let bitterness or hope take root, and I sincerely am working on eliminating bitterness. I don’t know why I don’t get to be stubborn as well and not move on, but I do know that the man God is preparing for me will come after my heart in a big way. I won’t be a leftovers, last one picked, bottom of the bucket alternative, but his gem. A girl of value. Girls of value don’t need to plot or scheme or pout, but rather trust all the more that their heavenly father has something big planned.
Also, I felt like this before China and after- that satan has really been trying to discourage me, so there must be something I’m doing that he wants to kill in me. Annnnnnnd he won’t. The best things I have learned have come from the most painful things. The way I see it, if I have to be here on this ridiculous earth, then God gets to be here too. lol He had better show up anyway. I know He will.