Affliction Does Not Equal Rejection

“Can mighty pine trees grow tall without soil? Can luscious tomatoes flourish without water? Blossoming flowers look great before they’re cut or picked, but without soil or water they wither more quickly than grass. That’s what happens to all who forget God— all their hopes come to nothing. They hang their life from one thin thread, they hitch their fate to a spider web. One jiggle and the thread breaks, one jab and the web collapses. Or they’re like weeds springing up in the sunshine, invading the garden, spreading everywhere, overtaking the flowers, getting a foothold even in the rocks. But when the gardener rips them out by the roots, the garden doesn’t miss them one bit. The sooner the godless are gone, the better; then good plants can grow in their place.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭8:8-19‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Job had a pretty good life. Then his world collapsed. He was a very wealthy man and lost all of his material possessions. He lost his children. The woman who agreed to be with him through thick and thin told him to curse God and die. His friends told him he brought this affliction on himself and that his kids died because they must have committed horrific sins. According to Job’s friend, plants cannot survive without essential water and soil any more than people can survive without God. Therefore, Job’s suffering and trial must be a result of being “cut off” from God because he did something wrong. Job’s friend goes so far as to compare his situation to a gardener that rips out weeds. The weeds are garbage and suck up valuable resources. They have to be gone to make room for the “good plants.” In Job’s lowest moments, his friend compared him to worthless weeds! And worse, he said Job needed to be removed to make room for better people!

What really needed to be ripped out and discarded was the negative influence. It is so easy for friends and family to take on the pious role of righteous interpreter. Some people call this “judgment.” Job’s closest friends tried to convince him that he and his family were guilty of sin and being punished for it. Job could either turn inward and blame himself for circumstances that were completely out of his control and actually meant for good or he could reject the false claims and believe that affliction does not equal rejection.

Job experienced all of this, not because he was a bad man being punished, but because he was actually a good man—so good that God himself made a deal with the devil that Job would still love God even if his earthly possessions, family and health were taken away. And Job proved that his love for God was greater than his love for anything else.

But what if Job had listened to his wife and friends? What if his unfailing love was tainted by negative self-talk? What if all he ever did was blame himself and his children for doing wrong and deserving punishment? It’s likely the story would have a different ending. Job suffered severely. But he didn’t give in to negative self-talk. And because of this, God restored what Job lost many times over.

Your story can have a happy ending, too. Respectfully end or temporarily discontinue relationships with people who want to convince you hardship is always a result of something you did wrong. Recognize when you may be off course and seek out counsel from unbiased individuals who truly love and care for you; they will help you see if you are really in the wrong or just experiencing a troubling time. You are worth more than weeds!

©, February 16, 2018

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