Brace yourself

No one likes to answer the hard questions. I don’t mean the ones that challenge your knowledge of useless facts. I mean the ones that challenge your very existence. The questions that make you question the things you’ve build your life around. These questions are uncomfortable. They may make you squirm. They may hurt. You can choose to ignore them, but they’ll probably show up again down the road. Most of the time, it’s best to face them head on.

After Job has spent several chapters pleading to argue his case against God, God shows up in a whirlwind.

Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.

Job 38:3 (NLT)

In one way or another, we all have to answer for our choices. Job now has to answer to God for all he has said while afflicted. It won’t be pretty. His discomfort has only just begun. It’s going to hit hard. Why else would God tell him to brace himself? Other versions say things like, prepare yourself like a man, now get ready to face me!, or now get ready to fight.

The time has come for Job to face the music and take accountability for all he has said.

Have you put yourself in a place where God must tell you to brace yourself? Have you made up your mind about something without consulting Him first? Will His truth hurt or will it comfort?

When it came down to it, all Job had said against God turned out to be petty and, well, wrong. Everything he had based his argument on was proven false in just a couple of chapters. The truth hit him like a tonne of bricks and he could either accept it and move on or continue to fight against God.

If you choose to fight against God, brace yourself. It won’t be pretty.

If you choose to accept God’s correction, you may still have to brace yourself for the truth and correction, but once it’s over, you’ll find yourself back on the side of truth and wisdom without the need to fight any longer.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is stand up, get ready to face God, brace ourselves, and accept the correction that’s coming. Because after correction comes comfort.

Daily Bible reading: Job 38-39, Acts 15:1-21

Whiner

Let’s face it, at some point we will all go through a time in our lives when we’re disappointed. When life doesn’t live up to what it was supposed to be. A time when we feel let down, left out, or left behind. Many would have you believe that you can’t go to God with these feelings. That God won’t listen to your complaints. Well, guess what? He will.

God doesn’t only want to be your God in the good times. He wants to be your God all the time. And that includes the crappy times.

Read through Job 10. The man has gone from praising God for all his blessings and wealth to pretty much collapsing in the floor in a tantrum. He’s lowered himself to whining to God about his situation. But here’s the thing—he’s still talking to God. Though he feels like God has completely abandoned him, he’s still talking to God and hasn’t turned from God.

It’s okay to feel down. We all do sometimes. And it’s even okay—more than okay—to let God know about it. He already knows how you feel, after all, and is probably overjoyed when we come to Him in our low times. It means that He still means something to us. It means that we still have a measure of faith that He can do something about our situation.

Not only did Job not turn from God, he still listened to the wisdom of his friends. Many of us have a tendency to push away the people who are most able to help us. The last thing you want to hear when you’re in a bad situation is someone who isn’t in that same situation. But, Job still allowed his friends to try to talk some sense into him. They corrected him. They encouraged him. And, amazingly enough, he still listened. How do I know this? It’s all written down. The entire book is a conversation between Job and his buddies.

The moral of the story is this: it’s okay to be a whiner to God sometimes. He can handle it. But it’s not okay to be a whiner all the time. As difficult as it may be, you still have to allow yourself to be encouraged and corrected.

Daily Bible reading: Job 10-12, Acts 8:1-25

Quickly

Let’s assume that, if you attend church regularly, that you trust your pastor and other church leaders. You trust that he or she is a man or woman of God. You trust that they spend regular time in prayer and reading their Bible. You trust that their messages are Holy Spirit-led.

Then they approach you and tell you something you didn’t expect. It may be a word in season or it may be a word of correction. Some people take it to heart and are encouraged or work to make necessary changes in their lives. Others may ruminate on it for a while before responding. And others will get mad, stay away, or even leave the church thinking, what right does this person have to say this to me?

The truth is that they have every right. If you consider yourself to be a member of a church, you’ve put yourself into a position of submission to the pastor and the leaders he or she has put in place. So long as they are speaking and acting according to the Word of God, they have a certain amount of authority over you.

So why does our response matter so much?

Israel has wandered away from God. There are yet a few righteous men and women, but not many. Jehu is leading the army. Elisha is the prophet. Elisha sends a man of God to anoint Jehu as the next king. Jehu can do several things: he can send the man away, scoffing at him, he can listen to what he has to say and think about it, or he can accept the word and act on it.

Jehu accepts the anointing.

Jehu went back to his fellow officers, and one of them asked him, “What did that crazy fellow want? Is everything all right?”

“You know the way such a man babbles on,” Jehu replied.

“You’re lying,” they said. “Tell us.” So Jehu told them what the man had said and that at the Lord’s command he had been anointed king over Israel.

They quickly spread out their cloaks on the bare steps and blew a trumpet, shouting, “Jehu is king!”

2 Kings 9:11-13 (NLT)

Israel may have gone astray, but something (I believe the Holy Spirit) was still working in them. A deep respect and honour for the Word of God still resided in these men and, instead of getting upset that Jehu had been chosen to be the next king or taking the time to think about this news and whether or not they wanted to accept it, they immediately responded to it.

When we have a relationship with God, He will lead us and guide us. His Spirit works in and through us. He brings us insight and revelation.

When we are in submission to the leaders God has placed before us, God uses them to help lead and guide us. Between God speaking to our leaders and the Spirit working in us, I believe that we are well able to discern truth and allow that truth to guide us. When a word is presented to us from a trusted source and resonates within our spirits as truth, our response, like Jehu’s men, should be immediate. If we trust God and we trust our leaders, the time to ponder should be minimal. We should respond quickly.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 9-11, John 5:1-24

Respond

Are you ever disappointed by someone’s response to one of your actions? Are they ever disappointed by your actions?

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked [Cain]. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it.”

Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT)

In pondering my own responses to certain people and their actions, I have to wonder how those situations could have had different results if only I’d responded in a different manner. Often times our first response isn’t the correct one. Like Cain, we get upset as a spoiled child might. Sin waits to destroy us.

But also like Cain, God is waiting to accept us if we come with the correct response. Every situation has the potential for multiple outcomes. Most often, the outcome has a direct relationship with our response to it.

The next time your first inclination is to respond by lashing out, pause. Subdue the incorrect response and ask God to guide you in the correct one.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 3-5, Matthew 2