Dissatisfaction. It slipped in just as you settled into that new home, or car, or … relationship. Something glittery turned your head again.
But this was going to be it, right? The promotion … love at last … new resolutions … new you?
And then. The next thing.
Whether you recognize it or not, there is only one phenomenon that brings complete, long-term satisfaction. And that one thing is spiritual. And that one thing is your maker.
This phenomenon is no secret to the principalities, authorities, and holy angels living in eternal dimensions. These creatures knew long before you made your birth debut that one day you would struggle to keep God front and center in life.
Through Scripture we’ve learned some of the angels have spurred you on, others have tempted you to go astray.
And you thought no one knew your fickle heart was in such bad shape.
But let’s start with the basics.
We are each miraculously fashioned with a requirement for spiritual fulfillment—something we’re so unaware of, we spend our days throwing temporary trappings into a bottomless pit of discontent while holy angels scratch their heads. The space I speak of is shaped for Christ’s spirit alone. It has been His plan to occupy our hearts since His Father lovingly positioned the first man and woman in the well-prepared Garden—the Garden of Eden made before but for His mud-made people.
And in the Garden, those first humans were made for God’s glory (Isaiah 43:7), not their own. And yet, here we humans are some 6,000 years later, seeking self-glorification with every breath—the very breaths God placed in our previously hollow chests.
I know. I struggle with the glitters of the world and the grass-is-greener syndrome.
Maybe your self-glorification quest isn’t fame or throne bound like mine, but what about those little I deserves or I must haves that initially seem harmless. You know, the things our world screams we must have to be happy? The little material or relational achievements we believe will usher in true happiness?
According to Proverbs 1:31-33, eating the fruit of our own ways and filling ourselves with our own schemes leads to self-destruction. Even more revealing—coveting or pursuing the temporary thrills of the world will only bring more dissatisfaction. Look at Isaiah 55:2-4 or read Matthew 6:19-34 to see that the comforts or pleasures of this world are neither meant to last nor satisfy.
We are to crave the holiness and righteousness of God, not His gifts.
A Revealing Example
This is why I find the book of Job so fascinating.
With a fair amount of us humans worshiping the gifts rather than the Giver, Job, early on, was an exception.
Scripture tells us Job was a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from all evil. From numerous biblical passages (hang out in Proverbs for a while), we’re told that to fear God is the beginning of wisdom. The Hebrew word for fear is yirah which describes that physical reaction you get when you’re scared—shaking, weak in the knees, heart pounding. But the same word also means reverence, respect, or a sense of awe. When the Bible exhorts us to fear (yirah) God alone, we are instructed to place our respect and awe in a spiritually healthy place. Not a material one.
According to Scripture, Job was spiritually fit.
Fear Can Be Righteous
Job was a man who feared the Lord. In one of the earliest biblical accounts, we’re shown the fantastic story of a man who placed God at the center of His need. Also in this story, readers are given an insider’s look at an exchange between God and Satan and in that exchange, Job’s righteousness is discussed. Considering that we’re told angels present themselves to God and their conversation with God can be about … well … our virtues or lack of, I should remind myself that every thing I do … everything … is up for spiritual interpretation by the creatures of the airways.
Nothing is in secret. Nada.
As the story goes, when Satan presents himself to God, the Lord flaunts Job’s righteousness. Through Job’s upright life, God receives glory and our maker wanted Satan to take note. I admit, the idea of God pointing out my own virtues (or lack of) to Satan is unnerving, but the idea also helps me understand God’s relational nature. Our righteousness is a precious commodity to our Maker—so much so, He boasts of it.
As a side note, I love the Apostle Paul’s further explanation as to why humans must choose to glorify God. Check out the Scripture below:
“…To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to enlighten all people as to what the plan of the mystery is which for ages has hidden in God, who created all things; so that the multifaceted wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 3:8-10
The Enemy Will Push Back
Back now to the heavenly encounter from the book of Job. Satan asked God, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” He goes on to say that the reason Job is dedicated to the Lord is because the Lord has blessed Job with all the trappings of earth life, including riches, servants, loyal friends, and family members.
This is where things get dicey. Satan is given permission to test Job through enemy raids, a consuming fire, and a great wind that destroys the house where Job’s ten children celebrate a feast. His seven sons and three daughters are tragically killed in the natural disaster.
Loss beyond our understanding.
Wallowing in unimaginable devastation, Job states, “Naked I came from mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
When Job’s faith proves steadfast, Satan wants at him again, and again, God grants permission. This time, Job is struck with a painful disease. Even when his wife urges him to curse God and die, Job keeps a righteous perspective. He told his wife, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”
Job’s deep and spiritual understanding stays centered, even amidst great pain and loss.
Friends and Their Warped Theology
Job has three friends join him for seven days of solidarity and silence. This is an honorable action on their part. But then the trio share their theologically bent opinions. In three cycles of discourse, each man makes inaccurate declarations about God’s justice and each pleads for Job to repent of whatever great sin caused these multiple afflictions. If Job had lost everything, they voice with more than enough words, it must be because Job did something to offend God.
But this isn’t the case. Job’s afflictions were allowed by God to prove Job’s righteous faith to heavenly creatures watching mud-made creatures on earth.
In the final chapters of this story, God speaks to Job through a whirlwind, citing His unquestionable sovereignty over all, even Job’s circumstances. Job replies, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted … I repent in dust and ashes.”
In the very end of the story, God restores Job’s fortunes twofold increasing his livestock and wealth. God also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. I believe these gifts are a metaphorical glimpse of our future with Christ in eternity. What we have lost or been denied in our temporary decaying state will be restored with Christ in eternity.
I also love that the writer of Job records the names of Job’s youngest three daughters stating these three are given equal inheritance among their brothers. This action breaks the long-held tradition of male-only inheritances which kept family land within the bloodline of a specific tribe. The unusual move and documentation furthers my sense that the end of Job’s story is a glimpse of heaven—men and women with equal inheritance as we believers are adopted into one bloodline—the royal bloodline of Christ.
To circle back to the chronic dissatisfaction plaguing our hearts today, let’s consider Job. A rich man, Job owned lots of land and glittery stuff. There’s nothing wrong with wealth.
It is replacing the person God with the material gifts of God that is the problem. If at any point you feel you would rather die than live without (fill in the blank) ________, then this is an indicator you’ve put a temporary gift on the eternal throne of your heart.
I’m certainly guilty.
And I cringe to think evil dominions of the air watch (and maybe cheer) my fickle ways.
Perhaps in this new year, with the squeeze of bad economic news, rumors of wars, declining morality, and the love of many grower colder by the day, we’ll have opportunity to, like Job, speak the sovereignty of God. So I’ll share my favorite quote from Job here at the end:
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” Job 13:15a
Keep speaking. Stay brave. They are watching.
If I perish, I perish,
Laurie, (Mud Creature)