Thursday, April 21, 2011

Turning our Captivity: Lessons from Job 3

There is one more point in this whole story of Job that I want to get into.  It is probably my favorite point of all; blessings follow the trial.  I have always believed that if I remain faithful through my trials (Proverbs 28:20) with clean hands and a pure heart (Psalms 24:4) that the Lord will turn my curse (trial) into a blessing (Deut 23:5).  (see My Soul is Weary of Life post)  I also believe that the greater the trial, the greater the blessing that can follow.  Job’s enormous blessing of receiving twice that he had once had followed an equally enormous trial.  


His earthly possessions were doubled on earth; sheep, camels, oxen, asses.  What about his children?  I think if we look at it in terms of his eternal posterity, his posterity was doubled.  The latter blessing would not fully be realized until the next life.  Such it is with us, our blessings are partially earthly and partially heavenly and much may not be seen until the next life.  
One thing I realized in reading Job is that his blessing did not come automatically; he had to do a couple of things to earn it.  In my first blog post Searching for Healing, I considered the scriptural perspective of healing and being forgiven as being synonymous.  The story of Job further demonstrates this principle.  

Job 42:6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Before the Lord turned Job’s “cursing” or “captivity” into a blessing, one of the things Job does is to repent.  As I detailed in my Searching for Healing post, our trials can bring with it negative emotions that can lead us to sin.  For example, envy for someone who has it better than us, anger at those who have wronged us, or anger at God for letting this happen to us.  Although Job never became angry at God nor ever blamed him, we know he wanted to die and that he cursed the day he was born.  It could have also been that he had to forgive his supposed friends; they came to comfort him but instead afflicted him with their judgments and lack of empathy.  They believed that he must have done something to deserve his lot and that it was his own fault he suffered.  It is so interesting to me that it was not until he prayed for these “friends” that the blessings came. 

Job 42:10 And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

This is such a HUGE realization to me that in order for me to receive the blessing, I must pray for my enemies.  I say enemies because these friends did not act as friends.  Jesus taught that we should pray for our enemies and the story of Job tells us that this is the way our “curse” turns into a “blessing.”   So, whether we are to pray for the person who caused our trial, judged us in our trial, or someone completely unrelated to our trial, to me it seems the key to blessings.  

There are some people that may be very hard to pray for because their acts are so hard to forgive.  I think it can take years and years to forgive some horrendous things.  My personal feeling is that we pray for the ability to forgive and open our hearts until forgiveness comes; I believe forgiveness is a gift from God and does not come naturally to carnal man (Romans 8:7-8).  Our prayers for an enemy can be as simple as please help me to forgive and no longer harbor bad feelings for this person.  I think those prayers can evolve to, please help me see this person as you see them and learn to love them.

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