If you live down river from a manmade lake or reservoir, the words you don’t want to hear are “the dam broke.” That happened in central Missouri when the Taum Sauk Reservoir Dam broke and suddenly the people who lived down river were inundated with a billion gallons of water.
Engineers were shocked to find that a whole big piece of that reservoir was made out of dirt and rocks…little stones. The problem was that the dam that was supposed to hold back the flood was made of material that couldn’t withstand the pressure of the flood. Of course the test of what anything is made of is what happens when massive pressure hits.
Job chapters 1 and 2 give us six survival secrets for massive pressure times when we experience life’s worst hits. “In the land of Uz, there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil…He was the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:1-2). This is a high-profile man, and he cannot suffer privately. Everybody around there knows what happens to Job. In Job1:6-7, God pulls the curtain on what goes on in the heavenlies. “And Satan also came with them…The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’” He’s looking for somebody to devour; who is vulnerable; who is doing something that’s going to make it easier for him to influence.
The conversation continues in verses 8-11, “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job?’” Job never knows this has gone on. “There’s no one on earth like him. He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’ ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’ The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger on him.’ Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”
Three Perspectives on Hard Times
Three perspectives on the hard times in our lives that we wouldn’t know except God revealed them. First, you are a battlefield. This passage reveals that Job was literally a battlefield between God and Satan. And God said, “I will show you the validity of what I can do in a life.” Satan says, “I’ll show you that if you take away the benefits, you’ll take away his allegiance.” A lot of what’s going on seems to have a human face, but you “wrestle not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). It’s something going on in the heavenlies, and you happen to be the battlefield.
Secondly, you are protected. Notice even Satan has to say, “Have you not put a hedge around him?” If you belong to God, you and your household are hedged about by God; a fence through which Satan can only go with divine permission. The shields are always up. It is an awesome thing to pray for the hedge of the Lord around people you love.
Lastly, your pain is Father-filtered. There is nothing that happens to you as a child of God about which you cannot say, “You love me, and you signed this. You said this could happen.” Even Satan’s work has to be approved by God…like a day off signed by a supervisor. Since the signature of God is necessary, even Satan cannot do anything without permission. Jesus said to Peter, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” And in this case He did not say, “I’ve stopped him.” But He said, “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31-32). So your pain—everything going on right now in your life—has been Father-filtered. It’s gone by the eyes of a Father who loves you desperately.
Even with the correct perspective on life’s worst hits, we still need to know some survival secrets for those hard times.
Respond with worship.
Look at what Job does. Job 1:14 “A messenger came to Job and…” told him that all his oxen and donkeys and the servants who took care of them were gone. Verse 16 says, “While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘Fire… burned up the sheep and the servants.’” Literally his personal fortune is disintegrating. Verse 17, “While he was still speaking…” a messenger told him that his camels and servants were killed. Verse 18 says, “While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters…are dead.’” Job had a relentless bombardment of bad news! It’s one thing to lose your stuff, something else to lose your kids.
Verse 20 records Job’s reaction, “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship.” When one of the worse things in life hits you, you probably will fall to the ground. Will you fall to the ground in despair, giving up, angry, or will it be worship? The only one that will help you get through it is worshiping.
Hebrews 13:15 says to “offer to God a sacrifice of praise.” When all the news is good, you should praise God, but that’s not sacrifice. When you can’t see God anywhere in what’s happening and you still praise God, that is sacrifice.
Make God proud is another survival secret for life’s worst hits. In Job 2:9, Job’s wife says, “Are you still holding onto your integrity?” Job responds with unmovable, unshakable integrity. He simply is the same man he was even though everything in his world has been rocked or removed.
Prove Satan Wrong
Satan says, “Strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you.” Thomas Paine, in the days leading up to the American Revolution, talked about sunshine patriots—people who wanted liberty and independence from Britain but wanted to pay no price for it. And when it got tough, they got going. There are sunshine disciples. There are also those people who prove Satan wrong. Revelation 12:10-11 tells us, “For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” You don’t know what Satan’s been saying about you, but you can prove him wrong by the way you handle hard times.
Cherish Your integrity
Job responded with, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” And, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" God was able to say to Satan in Job 2:3, “He still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him.”
Check Your Anchor
What is in your life that you think, “I can’t live without…”? Job proved his anchor is the Lord when he decided to fall before the Lord and worship. Second Timothy 1:12 says, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”
Plato in his famous writing “The Republic” has a very intriguing picture. Some sailors are out in a storm. They now can see no lights from the shore, no lights at all. They are desperate to know where to go, so someone has a really bright idea. They put the light on the front of their vessel and follow that. That’s not going to get you anywhere, but we do that. We follow our feelings; we follow our circumstances. That means we’re putting the light on the front of the boat and following that. It’s a good way to shipwreck.
The story of Job really is a double trust. A man who can trust God no matter what, and a man God can trust no matter what.
What we do in the worst of times exposes the real content of our heart. There’s never a moment when God is not worthy of our worship. We’ll know that in heaven, but it could help us so much to remember it on earth. We want to prove Satan wrong, and respond to the worst with worship of Almighty God.