We have officially come to the end of our first week of the New Year!! The beginning of a new year is always so exciting and comes with many resolutions and hopes and dreams. It causes me to reevaluate the past year, and think about what I might want the next year to look like.
If you’re anything like me, you probably want 2017 to be trial-free. You probably don’t WANT to experience a bad diagnosis, financial struggles, or painful circumstances. I know personally that I tend to idolize comfort, safety, and health. I mean, who honestly wants to encounter hardships? I know I don’t! This idol of mine can cause me to worry and sometimes even leads to fear when I think of what could happen in the new year…
THEN I read something like Job 1 & 2. I highly encourage you to read those two chapters by the way! Basically, Job is a rich man who has 10 children, thousands of cattle, has pretty good health, and is “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1). He’s basically got it all together.
Well you can only imagine that satan wasn’t too happy about that. Satan was patrolling the earth and didn’t want Job to fear God anymore. So satan goes to God and tells Him that Job wouldn’t fear Him if he took away all of his possessions and killed his children. God disagrees and allows satan to take away all of his possessions and children, but tells him that he is not allowed to kill Job. After satan does all of that, guess what Job’s response is? (I love this part <3)
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and WORSHIPED. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin or charge God.” Job 1:20-22 (emphasis mine)
So satan goes BACK to the Lord, and says if Job’s health is taken away, surely he won’t fear God anymore. So God gave satan permission to take away his health, but again satan was not allowed to kill Job. Surprise surprise, through the grace of God, Job did not turn against God. His wife even tried to get him to curse God, but he responded saying, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” Job still did not sin against God with his lips.
Now there are many more nuggets in these chapters, but this just caused me to re-evaluate my perspective for this new year. As much as I want to be like Job in these chapters and worship God in the midst of heavy grief, I want even more-so to bask in the beauty of our God in all circumstances. Our joy does not come from how much money we have, how many children we have, how many possessions we have, or how good our health is. Our joy and strength comes from the Lord alone. I want to start seeing everything I have as what God has given me, loosen my grip, and hold it all with an open hand–including my health, loved ones, and possessions. I know I’m still going to fail at this, and still going to struggle to not idolize health and safety, but through it all I want to remember the character of our God.
Of course I don’t WANT anything bad to happen to me or my family in 2017, but through the grace of God, I know that all I need is the Lord Himself, and that my joy doesn’t come from safety, possessions, or even the people I love most. So we can enter into 2017 without trying to hold so tightly and fearfully to our resolutions and our desire for everything to be perfectly trial-free. Because honestly, Satan really is prowling the earth:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Thankfully though, while that is true, we can be confident that satan can’t do anything that God doesn’t allow. AND it is impossible for God to do anything apart from love. God has already defeated satan! While 1 Peter 5:8 is true, Jesus also says:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
No matter what we face this year, we can take courage in the character and sovereignty of our God, who is always at work, and who carries us through the trials we face. He is surely with us always! My challenge to you (I’m speaking to myself too!) is to draw comfort from God’s presence, and have confidence that there is purpose in our suffering! I hope that you find comfort in the following:
“Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
P.S. While I was writing down my thoughts about Job and how His story relates to the beginning of a new year, these encouraging Scriptures “happened” to be on the bottom of the pages in my journal and wanted to share!
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love” Psalm 33:18
“And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” Mark 9:23-24
Happy Happy New Year!!!!!