One thing I know that separates grace-filled people from the strict, inflexible religious is audacity. Boldness. Grace-full people know that they can come boldly and speak to God freely because of what Jesus has done for them. The others are only aware of how worthy they have made themselves to stand before Him.
Consider Job. I mean, look at his words! Granted, this is from the Message version of the Bible, but I have no doubt at all in my heart that he must’ve sounded almost exactly like this:
“I should have known that there was more to it— That if I so much as missed a step, you’d notice and pounce,
wouldn’t let me get by with a thing. If I’m truly guilty, I’m doomed.
But if I’m innocent, it’s no better—I’m still doomed. My belly is full of bitterness.
I’m up to my ears in a swamp of affliction. I try to make the best of it, try to brave it out,
but you’re too much for me, relentless, like a lion on the prowl. You line up fresh witnesses against me.
You compound your anger and pile on the grief and pain! So why did you have me born?
I wish no one had ever laid eyes on me! I wish I’d never lived—a stillborn,
buried without ever having breathed. Isn’t it time to call it quits on my life?
Can’t you let up, and let me smile just once Before I die and am buried,
before I’m nailed into my coffin, sealed in the ground, And banished for good to the land of the dead,
blind in the final dark?”
I know the feeling.
And yet, how does God talk about Job at the end of all this?
After God had finished addressing Job, he turned to Eliphaz the Temanite and said, “I’ve had it with you and your two friends. I’m fed up! You haven’t been honest either with me or about me—not the way my friend Job has. So here’s what you must do. Take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my friend Job. Sacrifice a burnt offering on your own behalf. My friend Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer. He will ask me not to treat you as you deserve for talking nonsense about me, and for not being honest with me, as he has.”
After Job had interceded for his friends, God restored his fortune—and then doubled it! … God blessed Job’s later life even more than his earlier life. … Job lived on another 140 years, living to see his children and grandchildren—four generations of them! Then he died—an old man, a full life.
I am not a bible scholar. This isn’t an exposition or study or whatever it’s called. It is, plain and simple, scratching the head.
How could God say that Job was His friend after how Job complained and practically accused God of being unfair? And proudly demanded that God come to him and tell him his sin to his face!
But that’s grace. And that’s why Job pleased God, even in the ranting, more than the other friends, who said that Job’s misfortune happened because he sinned, so ‘fess up and get it over with, man!! Job seemed to know that God would listen and hear and not ignore him.
And he was right.
When a fire took my mother in July 2004, it was a sudden, shocking loss for us. My brother, who had been very close to her, took it really hard. At the wake, he told me: “I just wanna ask God why! Why did this happen? Why this way? Why?!” As expected, everyone else tried to shush him. I think my answer, as the only born-again Christian relation in the room, shushed them:
“Go ahead, kuya. Cry it out, ask God all your questions. Remember Job? God won’t think you rude or disrespectful. The cussing in your head and the anger in your heart won’t shock Him. He’s seen it. I just have one thing to ask you to remember:
Give God room to be God. He does not owe it to you to answer your questions the way you want them answered.”
It doesn’t always “solve the problem” or restore the loss like what happened at the end of Job. But I think that’s simply because we have a greater promise. A greater assurance that whatever happens on earth, Jesus has already opened the gates of heaven for us. I believe being with Jesus for eternity in heaven is greater gain than restoration on earth. Because this earth will pass away.
Hey, I’m not saying it’s okay to lose people and stuff here on earth, specially people you love and stuff you really worked hard for. God promises restoration for that too. But we have both that promise AND JESUS: today, tomorrow, when eternity begins until it ends — if it will.
That’s better than Job got in his time!
“I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” (John 15:15 MSG)
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)