Now, when someone says that God is working on them in their life, I always cringe, because what that means for me in my experience is that a whole lotta old fashioned, Old Testament pain and suffering are coming along for the ride.
If God is going to deal with you, chances are, he is going to humble you in the process. Nothing is more humbling than being shown how little control we have over what happens to us in life, and how little value we have if that value is self-created, not creator-given. In the modern vernacular, “You may think you’re ‘The Shit’, but you ain’t shit!” You’re nothing without God, and he will make this clear to you before he will lift you up – at least in my experience.
Scripture backs this up in many places:
“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” – Matthew 23:12
“Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” Proverbs 29:23
“The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.” Proverbs 147:6
In other words, God will have nothing to do with the lofty in spirit – they are not his people. As he is humble, so will his people be.
This is an important distinction to make before one decides to become a Christian, because once you apply your Free Will and say “Take my life, Lord”, being humbled is one of the main works God will embark upon in your life. You will be humbled in so many ways.
Why is that so important?
First, because God is himself humble, as stated above. Second, because humility is required for compassion. If one is haughty and puffed up with pride, it’s next to impossible for compassion and empathy to gain a foothold in their life. They are untouched by suffering because they have little to none, and don’t much care about the suffering they see others experiencing, if they see it at all – which they probably don’t.
These are not things which need psychological studies to bear out – this is just plain common sense, something that is unfortunately becoming extinct these days. One simply needs a bit of life experience to appreciate how this Biblical wisdom rings true.
One needs to be humbled, sometimes repeatedly, before they understand the truth of the scriptures quoted above, for it is the arrogant that are blind to this truth, not the humbled. Most are born with a tendency towards pride, so that is a given in life. Humility is not. That is only earned through suffering and the patient hand of God.
When going through this humbling process, it can feel like God is just beating the crap out of us for no reason. And I’m sure we feel like that because we’re all innocent, right?
Wrong! Take Job. He thought he was an innocent victim in his sufferings, and that was the cause of his complaints. But he was shown by God that he had no right to complain – inferring that he was not above humility and the suffering that created it. Job was correct to not curse God, but where he erred was in his feelings of victimhood.
His real problems started when his own body was struck with sores, when he was ‘cut to the quick’ so to say. His response was to curse the day he was born. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been brought to that point more than once in my life. Oh Job, you are a brother to me!
“Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, ‘A man is conceived.’ ” Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, nor light shine upon it. – Job 3, 3:4
Because of God, Job has become afflicted, and he doesn’t understand why.
Sometimes I wonder if God just picks someone out of the blue down here on planet Earth, and just starts to slap them around for no reason that is readily apparent (which is NOT to say there is no reason at all). Some poor soul like Job gets occasionally tapped to be made an example of, and everyone that knows them gets to be a witness. I believe it’s for the benefit or detriment of those witnesses that this happens.
Maybe God is simply fishing for his children – testing the waters for any flicker of compassion that may be there. As he is mopping the floor with this poor soul he has selected for abuse, he is looking around saying “Does anyone see this? Does anyone care?” If compassion exists, it will reveal itself, and those will be known as children of God. And where compassion doesn’t exist, it cannot be revealed because it doesn’t exist, and those will be known as the children of perdition.
Isn’t this exactly what God did to his own son?
Christ, entirely innocent of all accusations against him, was destroyed upon the cross, and God allowed it. Was part of the reason why the same as for Job – was he allowing his son to suffer and die a horrible death in total innocence so he could gauge in that moment the true quality of those alive at that time, and thereafter? When people would hear about the story of his son at later times, was part of what he was looking for simply a compassionate response?
Because, for me, I cannot understand the person who can hear that story and respond mockingly, or not at all. I just can’t – I think that person is not entirely human. I think they are a child of perdition.
And God will then, in that moment of testing, say to this person, ‘to my right – you are saved’, and to another, ‘to my left – you are accursed.’ They will have been sifted as wheat by this test of compassion, and the wheat will be saved, and the chaff cast off into the wind. And the chaff will probably have no idea they’ve been tested at all. Not until it is too late to be corrected. Not until their souls are being destroyed with extreme prejudice.
And what is to happen to all the Jobs of life? What is their fate? I’d like to think that special rewards are reserved for these pitiful ones, the ones chosen to serve an unfortunate but required task mostly for the benefit of the ones that would witness their cruel treatment by life. If God is fair – and I truly believe he is – then this will certainly be the case.