We have all heard the expression many times: “Have a nice day.” It’s a classic Americanism. But what does it mean to have a nice day? I guess it’s having a day that is void of any problems, a day in which there is no sickness, no conflict, and no hardship. It’s a day that is, well, basically nice.
That is even how some people portray God. They think of Him as a Santa Claus-like figure who smiles benignly from Heaven, wants us to be healthy and wealthy, and tells us to have a nice day.
But is that really the picture that the Bible gives us of God? I’m not suggesting that God cannot bless us with health, or even a certain degree of wealth. Nor am I suggesting that God will not bring happiness into our lives, because He will. But that is not God’s aim.
God’s Goal and Our Role
God’s objective in our lives is to be glorified and to make us more like Jesus Christ. Thus, our goal should be to become like Jesus Christ and to glorify Him. Our goal in life shouldn’t be happiness, but holiness. The good news is that one will follow the other, because holy people are happy people.
But to be holy, it means that we’ll have to go through some trials, some hardships and some suffering.
Some would suggest that if you suffer, if you’re going through hardship, it is the result of your own sin. They suggest that if you just had more faith, this would not be happening to you. Those wrong ideas are not new. They go all the way back to the oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job.
Job was a real man with real problems who had a real God to whom he turned. Scripture tells us that he was a man of integrity and that God had blessed him and his family.
In the first chapter of Job, we read that Satan is going back and forth across the Earth, watching everything that is going on. In other words, he’s looking for trouble—for lives to ruin and for saints to stumble.
We also read that God is bragging on Job, saying, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless – a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil” (Job 1:8 NLT).
The devil, however, challenges that statement. He basically says, “Job doesn’t really love you at all. He only follows you because you have blessed him.”
And all of a sudden, Job was not having a nice day.
What happened to Job is almost incomprehensible. In one day, he went from being one of the wealthiest men in the land to complete bankruptcy. Everything he worked for in his life was gone. Not only that, but his servants had also been killed. But the worst news of all on that day was to hear that all his children, seven sons and three daughters, had died.
Having experienced the death of a child and having walked alongside parents who were suffering the same tragedy, I can tell you that it’s the worst thing that can happen to a mother or father. No parent ever wants to outlive his or her children. We spend our lives caring for them, nurturing them and loving them.
So how did Job fare with this test Satan expected him to collapse under? What did Job do? Did he curse God as Satan suggested he would?
No, he didn’t. Instead, Job praised God. He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21 NLT).
No wonder God had been bragging on Job. The Bible says of him, “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11 NKJV).
A lot of the book of Job is dedicated to his asking why. But then in chapter 38, we find God responding to Job from a whirlwind. He says to Job, in effect, “Excuse Me, but I kind of missed you when I was creating the heavens. Were you there?” God put Job in his place and declared His glory.
Job didn’t need an explanation about God; he needed an encounter with God, a revelation of God. That’s because when we see God for who He is, we will see our problems for what they are. If we have a small God, then we have big problems. But if we have a big God, then we have small problems.
Suffering helps us grow stronger spiritually. God allows hardship in our lives so that our beliefs, the things that we hold on to, will transfer from the realm of theory to reality. We can start living out our lives in the real world.
We talk about this thing that we believe and this other thing that we hold dear and this other thing that is important to us, and God says, “You know, you have a lot of great beliefs. You have a lot of things that you like to say. Now it’s time to put them into practice. You talk about how you trust Me. Let Me see how well you can trust Me.”
Suffering also can bring glory to God. How so? Anyone can be happy when the sky is blue and the sun is shining. But when a storm is brewing, it’s a different matter. It’s a powerful testimony when a Christian can praise God in the midst of suffering. What a rebuke to the enemy. What a witness to the world.
In the final chapter of Job, we see that God doubly restores everything to his righteous servant, and Job lives a long, blessed life. He passed the test and gave us an amazing example to follow.
You might say, “I don’t think I could handle all the things Job faced. In fact, I can’t handle suffering at all.” God knows what you can handle, and He will parcel it out accordingly. You just need to trust Him.
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Originally published at WND.com