When you see your “loss” in Scripture and are brought to your knees…

Happy Palm Sunday, my friends. I had planned on posting something else today and saving this post for next week, but the Lord is leading me to interrupt the Easter posts and to share this today. I am trusting that He will send it to whomever needs it (besides me) and to use it however He pleases. It’s about loss. And I guess it could easily fit with Easter, since the ripping away of the life-blood of Jesus, and the heart-wrenching loss of God’s Son can easily fit into what I’m about to share. God and Jesus had the right perspective on loss – the Eternal one. Oh, may that be where our thoughts and words turn in the midst processing our own loss and grief! I am praying for you today…

I was reading in Job the other day, Job 29 to be exact. Though I’ve read through Job, taught Sunday school lessons through Job, referred to Job, and referenced the final chapters of Job many times, I’ve never studied verse by verse through this incredible book of the Bible. Did you know that scholars believe that it was the VERY FIRST book of the Bible ever written down? One of these days I want to dive into the depths of this book – one to which we often generally refer, but rarely pull apart piece by piece.

But a specific verse landed me in the middle of Job 29 and the Lord prompted me to go back and read the entire chapter. Job – this righteous man who had done EVERYTHING right and yet God allowed this man to lose every physical blessing. Job is our rebuttal reference to the false assumption that “if bad things happen to you, then you must have been doing something wrong.”

In Job 29, Job is speaking of his life and of how he lived every moment in doing right, defending the defenseless, feeding and caring for the poor, the orphan, the widow… how he walked with the Lord in the joy and blessing of the presence of God… and how others saw and respected that about him. Job is telling of what life was like BEFORE the loss. Remembering the “good ole days,” and basking in the past blessings of the Lord.

As I read his words, I couldn’t help but think of a time in our {The Walkers} lives when we were doing everything we knew of that was right, basking in the presence and the blessing of the Lord… a time right before God allowed our physical worlds to turn upside down .

I was reading Job 29 and shaking my head up and down as Job recounted his righteousness, amazed afresh at how his faith never wavered.

But then I read the footnote in my Amplified Bible below chapter 29, and this is what it said:

Blameless and upright as Job had been – and God had so pronounced him – his misunderstood afflictions had caused him to get dangerously off-center. Instead of keeping his mind stayed on God and justifying Him, he is giving his whole thought to justifying himself. Instead of humility there is only self-righteousness. In this chapter he uses pronouns referring to himself fifty times. But when he was able to see himself as God saw him, he loathed himself and repented “in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

Woah!

Instead of keeping his mind stayed on God and justifying God and God’s righteousness in the midst of this misunderstood trial and loss, Job continued to justify himself and his own self-righteousness.

Again… Woah!

Instead of shaking my head up and down in agreement with Job, I began to shake my head back and forth in humility and sorrowful conviction for my own stupid pride!

Though Job was called a righteous man, he still battled with pride over his own righteousness. And why not? After losing everything else, that’s all he had left. His righteousness and a nagging wife.

But Job had something else on which to cling – something he didn’t recognize until the last few chapters of this account… Job had God’s righteousness. God’s rightness of purpose and plan that spans eternity. God’s purpose and plan that was reaching far beyond the times of Job… all the way into the times of today and beyond. Job had no idea how God would use his loss. But God did. Job’s life and loss and righteousness and humility were of more purpose than the short length of his days on this earth. They had eternal impact.

And so do ours.

When I think back to the time of joblessness and the removal of many of God’s earthly blessings we were enjoying, I tend to think like Job in chapter 29. I recount the days before the loss and of how we (to the best of our knowledge) had sold out our lives to serve Jesus. What we did “for His name.” Our righteousness… which I now see as filthy rags when compared to God’s righteousness and rightness and justice and purpose and eternal plans…

Nothing. All we did back then, and all we are doing today as we strive to honor God in our living, is worth nothing if we can recount it all based on our own goodness and righteousness. Nothing.

But if we are putting one foot in front of the other, one day after the next, with our eyes set 100% on God’s righteousness, whether we are in a season of loss or gain… that’s living in the humility of God’s righteousness and purpose.

Instead of recounting what we had, did, or how we lived before a loss, may we look back on our former way of living in the midst of a loss with the attitude of Paul in Philippians 3:7-9. (It’s long, but good! Please soak in every word…)

But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as one combined loss for Christ’s sake.

Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege(the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly].

For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I amy win (gain) Christ the Anointed One.

And that I may actually be found and known as in Him, not having any self-achieved righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that genuine righteousness which comes through faith in Christ, the Anointed One, the truly right standing with God, which comes from God by saving faith.

Philippians 3:7-9, Amplified Bible

This realization brought me to my knees in humility and confession. Oh how I wish I had been able to view the loss like this WHILE IN THE MIDST OF IT! Is that possible? Or is this something we can only conclude as we are looking back and processing it from the other side? I don’t know.

But this one thing I do know – from now own, when I am recounting those days before the loss, I am to NEVER again tout our own righteousness. As if we had anything to do with God’s blessings upon us! From now on, when I tell our story, I am to recount God’s righteousness, God’s goodness to us, what God was doing for us – and not what we were doing for Him. {Oh God, please forgive me for such foolish pride!}

Our God is so very good – yesterday, today, and for every tomorrow, in both loss and gain. He is right. He is trustworthy. Even when our worlds seem to be falling apart.

A challenge:

In the midst of our next season of loss (and we know that eventually there will be another one – it is the nature of living with eternity in our hearts while planted in this temporary world) instead of clinging to justifying our own righteousness as we seek to understand the loss, may we seek to justify God and His right-ness. It won’t be natural. It won’t be easy. It won’t supply the self-protective armor that self-justification brings. It won’t fuel the “anger stage of grieving.”

But I have a feeling that it will bring God and God’s peace, which surpasses all understanding, which will guard our hearts and our minds (Phil. 4:7). I sense that justifying God rather than justifying ourselves will highlight God’s eternal purpose when we are seeking answers to questions that in our sorrow we can barely express.

When I saw my previous “loss” in Scripture, I was brought to my knees in humility and sorrow and loathing for my prideful attitudes.

The next time I go through a “loss,” may it early bring me to my knees, but this time in a determination to justify God rather than myself.

When we see our “loss” in Scripture and are brought to our knees… you and I will be in the perfect position for the Lord to pick us up and to do something eternal in and through us.

Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant]. James 4:10, AMP

Praying for the ones this touches today and tomorrow~

Jennifer

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I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two college kids, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at SmellingCoffee.com