In the infamous exchange between God and Satan in the first chapter of Job there is an errant understanding of authentic lovers of God that Satan shows. Obviously there are differing opinions as to why Satan attempts to “incite God” against Job. Did the fallen creature know what Job would do? Did he think that he had a legitimate chance to turn Job against God? These question are only good for speculation as there really seems to be no solid answers to them. Either way, Satan employs a certain argument in this conversation.
Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
Basically what Satan says is this, “the only reason that anyone would even attempt to live for God is if God puts a shield of protection around them and makes their life tangibly better than any one else’s”. So the ploy that Satan engages is to remove those temporal comforts, blessings, and pleasures and sit back and watch the natural regression of the righteous man into unrighteous rebellion. And in a way this philosophy seems to be based somewhat on logic. We as human being do a great many things based on the rewards, comforts, or assurances we gain from them. Unless you are the exception, you go to work each day not because you love getting up and going to a place that you only marginally care about to be told what to do by someone that you are certain you are smarter than, so that you can continue to have the “privilege” of going back again and again. We do this reluctant dance because paychecks rarely show up for no reason at all (if you are a Fox, Limbaugh, Beck addict then you likely just started, in your mind, railing on the government taking care of people who don’t work…I respectfully ask you to stop politicizing everything for just a couple of minutes and let me finish 🙂 …thank you). We work, we get paid, then we give away our paycheck to obtain shelter, sustenance, and some measure of security. This is the way of humanity.
Satan’s entire argument is based on what we “normally” do. But what El Diablo fails to take into account here is critical. Those who have been near the heart of God, who have warmed their souls by the all-consuming fire, do not see God in the same way that they see everything else.
God stands alone in a different category altogether. He is unique in the fact that He is not a reward for us, but He is the missing core of our very beings. This simply means that when those who have been privileged to drink deeply from the bottomless well of living water find that their world has come down around them they do not run away from the sovereign Lord, they run toward Him. And perhaps a better way to say it is this: when our world falls down around us and we, being unable to stand any longer on our own, fall down with it, we fall forward. We fall toward the throne of grace. We fall into the arms of our Father who created the very world that has crumbled. We fall with arms outstretched, ironically, toward the One that could very well have kept everything from falling in the first place. Why? Because in the end the only thing that really matters is Him.
Satan couldn’t understand that the response of a simple man, conceived in sin and born into a fallen world, when everything he had was taken from him, could possibly be to be thankful. But in the moment of greatest loss we, the redeemed, are reminded of the reality that we can never lose all, because when we lose we gain. We hold to the grand assurance that God is not made up of flocks and herds or riches or provisions. God, in fact, is not made up of anything we understand. When we have cars and money and successful positions and health and momentary happiness we ought to be careful to be thankful. James tells us later in the Scriptures that “every good and perfect gift comes from God”, but he conspicuously doesn’t say that every good and perfect gift IS God. You see, even when every good and perfect gift is taken away we, the children of the eternal Father, have the best and most perfect gift: God Himself.
One day the trials and wars and hatred and sickness and death and pain will cease. One day none of the effects of sin and the fall will plague us here. But even before then, even in the deepest possible loss and pain, when we fall – and we will – we, the loved daughters and sons of the King of Glory…we fall forward.
And friends, His arms catch us every time.