“Have you noticed my servant Job?” (Job 1:8)
5…4…3…2…1… Happy New Year! (and the world cheers in unison) “Good riddance, 2020!”
It was a year like no other. But it didn’t start that way. This time last year, people were recovering from late night overindulgences after celebrating in large groups, with no face masks. Just like every other year. On New Year’s Day 2020, we were the star of our own show, spouting future hopes and dreams, setting goals and filling calendars, completely unaware that in two short months the world would shut down. Agendas would be abolished, and mankind cast into darkness as Covid-19 stole center stage.
The spotlight lands on heroes and villains alike but this coveted position isn’t always fun. It depends who’s watching and why. Friends and family, for applause? Great! Bullies looking for an easy target, or predators seeking prey? Not so much. The limelight can be a place of success or suffering. Or both, as with Job.
You’re probably familiar with this tragic story. In the blink of an eye, that man lost everything dear to him. Blow after blow messengers brought news of disaster, including all of his livestock (11,000 animals!) plus servants, and all 10 of his children. These catastrophic events were followed by the loss of his own health. Boils covered Job’s skin, to the point where his friends scarcely recognized him.
One thing you may not have noticed about this story is that it all began with a spotlight: “Then the Lord asked Satan, ‘Have you noticed my servant Job?… He is blameless – a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.’” (Job 1:8) God pointed Job out to the biggest bully of all time! But it’s important to understand why; God was proud of His kid! This wasn’t “punishment” or ant-under-a-magnifying-glass “entertainment” for the Almighty. No, God knew on the other side of this trial, Job would emerge wiser in truth, stronger in faith and doubly blessed.
Satan, no doubt, is applauding Covid and its world-wide cohorts, Destruction and Dissention. But understand this, friends – God directs the scenes. Just you wait for the plot twist because Job’s story isn’t the only example of “bad to good” in the Bible. Even personally, I can attest to God working miracles in ways I never could have imagined. Yes, 2020 was difficult. We saw much suffering and death. But that’s not new. Yet, in the darkness, good continued to shine: weddings took place, babies were born, jobs were acquired. What I’m saying is, if it feels like God doesn’t see you, or worse yet, He sees but doesn’t care, let me assure you, through the above scripture. Not only is the Father aware of your story, He wrote it, including the hard parts. Like the song says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands”; but His kids are the ones holding His attention. And He’s cheering us on!
As believers, it’s easy to say God is the Author and perfector of our faith. The bigger struggle is living that out with proper focus. God alone deserves the spotlight! It’s no wonder life turns upside down when undeserved people or events take His place. Listening to incessant opinions and arguments (like the “comfort” of Job’s friends) feels empty, offensive and wrong. Job’s breakthrough, what gave him hope and renewed life, was when he listened to God. How else, other than the Holy Spirit, could Job’s initial response to grief be worship? “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21) Likewise, his conclusion (before the blessings came) was, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted…My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I…repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2, 5-6).
Just as New Year’s resolutions for health and fitness can’t be achieved without intentional time and dedicated effort, we can’t radiate the Lord’s light without a committed and humble relationship. Like Job displayed, that starts and ends with surrender. With 2020 being hindsight (wink, wink) it’s clear The Producer is working behind the scenes. Every day of every year, God’s show runs by His hand, but not through His fingers. Our job is to trust, obey and radiate Christ’s love until the curtain falls. “We’re ready, 2021!” (pass the popcorn)