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Job and his friends

I will thank You and confide in You forever, because You have done it [delivered me and kept me safe]. I will wait on, hope in and expect in Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your saints (Your kind and pious ones). Psalm 52:9 AMP

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10 ESV

These two verses have been on my mind for a few weeks. I had never been aware of the detail of how Job’s restoration comes about . . as he prayed for/with his friends. And the psalmist, similarly, expects of God in the presence of friends. In Job, friends in the Hebrew can be translated as neighbours.

Job suffered, people say it is a very hard book to understand. We might think this, because, it provide no rational answers to suffering, God’s sovereignty and His caring for us. Perhaps it does provide an answer though in that, we see relationship restored between Job and his friends and between them all and God. And it is this restoration that brings health, wholeness and provision (in abundance). Have you ever fallen out with somebody and at first it’s all about whose fault it is? What if someone, all knowing, came along and said, well it was 42.8% your fault and 67.2% her fault, would that help? You are still out of relationship. In a sense, asking God for a full explanation is like Adam and Eve reaching out for ‘all knowledge’ and attempting to be God or God like, it’s an act of rebellion. Friends submit to each other, when they fall out they are in rebellion. It’s the same with God and us. In rebellion we seek to ask ‘why?’ particularly if we are suffering. Let me go off on to a side point here. When we first suffer or grieve it is good to express that and we may cry out ‘why’? And it’s not a bad thing to cry out at God, as we see in many first halves of Psalms. (in Psalms such as these they usually end with a declaration of God’s goodness) I’m talking here about after we have gone through that first stage (ie expressing our pain) and we start to think suffering gives us the right to continue to ask ‘why?’, in a sort of rebellious way. Always after expressing our pain we have the choice to submit or not. The trouble is continuing to ask why tends to have us believing God is against us. After Job’s confession we see that God is actually for him. And this is the devil’s great lie today ie God is against you. The good news is that God is for us! And God makes it all happen in relationship with Him and in relationship with out neighbours! He’s the same God today as He was then, providing health, forgiveness and provision, through Jesus ! And He provides this through us, we are the mediators of the Fathers love, just as Job was to his friends. So no wonder the Psalmist waits for God’s goodness in the company of believers! Also we see Job’s fortunes restored after he has prayed for/with his friends. It is not for what he might gain that Job submits, it’s for the restoration of relationship and to restore his friends. I know in my own walk with The Lord, after some twelve years of rebellion, I was just glad to be back. However, I was very surprised at God’s amazing goodness thereafter! (That’s another story . . )

So the message here is, firstly, if we are suffering, let’s share with others, submitting to Godly people (and not just the ones who tend to agree with us!). Also, whatever our situation, let’s work with others for the kingdom, in relationship, believing God is good. We won’t stop to ask why, instead, we will be obedient to Jesus’s kingdom instructions to give the Good News (God is for you, the kingdom where things can be restored, is near). The really good news is, we have been given the power to demonstrate this, through the Holy Spirit!

Practical Advice: Mostly faith is simple obedience, as in Job’s case, he simply followed God’s instructions (see passage . . ). For example, someone tells you they are not well . . what does scripture say? Lay hands on the sick and pray. So just do that! After finding a little about what’s wrong, ask if you can pray for them . . ask if it’s ok to pray now . . ask if it’s ok to put a hand on their shoulder . . . rest your hand on their shoulder and pray a prayer. Simple! And the prayer can be simple too. Either pray a request, eg, ‘dear Lord we ask that this X goes away, in Jesus name’ or a command, ‘I command this pain to go in Jesus name’. Now you can do this in stages, to build your confidence/faith. Supposing in your work situation people know you go to church. You may want to start by saying something like (in response to them saying they are not well or some other circumstance), ‘ as you know I go to church and I normally pray each day, would you mind if I prayed for you?’. Show an interest, check back with them how things are going, remind them you are praying for them. Share your’s or someone else’s story, if relevant . . As you begin to practise this you may find that the Holy Spirit gives you a nudge to say ‘can we pray now’ . . you get the idea!

Dear Lord, whatever our circumstances, help us to stay focussed on advancing your kingdom. Help us also to be willing to take small steps of faith on our front lines and trust you for the outcome. Thank you that you never let us down, amen

Thanks for reading
Andy

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