Genesis 42, Job 8, Psalm 40

Today’s readings are Genesis 42, Job 8, and Psalm 40.

This devotional is about Job 8:1-7

I have spent most of this week in bed with the flu, only vaguely aware of the passage of time or what day it was. So it was with rich irony that, in a rare moment when I was awake and alert enough to read, I saw this headline, “A televangelist’s flu-season advice: ‘Inoculate yourself with the word of God.’”* Gloria Copeland, attempting to apply Matthew 8:17 and Isaiah 53, stated that there should be no flu season because Christ “bore our diseases” (Matt 8:17). Any of us who had the flu just needed to receive what Jesus had done. Claim it and feel better!

[At least she prayed for me and everyone else who had the flu at the end of the clip.]

Sometimes people have a simplistic view of God and his work for us. Gloria Copeland does and so did Job’s friend Bildad the Shuhite here in Job 8. Bildad’s thought was that Job was full of hot air when he claimed not to deserve his suffering (v. 1). Since God is just, Job’s children must have sinned bigly; in their death, they got what they deserved (vv. 3-4).

On the other hand, if Job just repented and sought the Lord, God will give him everything back that he lost and then some: “But if you will seek God earnestly and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your prosperous state. Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.” This shows that the Prosperity Gospel is a very old heresy. It sounds so simple and so good. Bad things happen to sinful people but God blesses the repentant and upright. Claim the truth that “Christ died for our flu according to the scriptures” and you’ll get better immediately. Seek God now, Job, and all your kids will come back to life.

Job was written, in part, to cure us of this nonsense. Scripturally, God does promise blessings for obedience and punishment for disobedience. The problem is that, in this life, “blessings” are not primarily material goods or physical health. Those blessings will be fully realized in God’s kingdom but, until that kingdom exists on earth, people on earth–even believers–will still have to struggle with financial issues, sickness and death, and other human problems. God allows many kinds of sufferings in our lives to test our faith, deepen our faith, and purity our faith. Job received this testing, not for unconfessed sin, but for the glory of God so that his power would be demonstrated through Job’s faith.

It’s not wrong to desire health but it is wrong to suggest that someone’s spiritual life is damaged because they are sick or suffering. The thing that Bildad and Gloria Copeland condemn someone over might be the very thing God is using powerfully in their lives for his glory. So don’t impose on God simplistic, false human notions about God and his blessings. Instead, trust God in your suffering and let him testify to his own greatness through your faith as he faithfully carries you through the trials of life.