Week of October 23

The Lord Always Delivers at the Right Time

Read: Job 5; Psalm 108; Acts 10-11
“For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.”
Job 5:6-7, ESV


Life’s most significant moments are quite often bracketed by periods of waiting before something happens, but many of us find it our greatest challenge to pause until the Lord reveals His will to us. Andrew Murray once said, “Father, teach us all how to wait” (Waiting on God). One of the hardest things to do is to wait for God’s response to our question “Why?” whenever we suffer. So, what do we do “in the meantime”? That phrase simply refers to the period that occurs while we wait for something to happen. Our passage today teaches us what we may do “in the meantime.”

Understanding the Bible Context

What to do when the tension builds
We get the sense that we are actively waiting for something to happen in the book of Job and, indeed, we are. Job’s four friends deliver their assessment of the evil that has befallen him, and he eventually responds to them. Eliphaz suggests that Job should appeal to God and to lay his case before the Lord. Bildad suggested the same thing (8:5). So, Job did (23:3-8). He even contended with God regarding his circumstances (chapters 29-31)! However, in the meantime, God was waiting patiently for all to unfold before Job; only then did He speak (chapters 38-41).
I conclude that “in the meantime” moments are important because they help us to see the grand picture of God’s goodness and mercy shown to us in our human frailty. They also give us occasion to serve Him, even when things are not going our way. Going our way?
Bad things do happen to good people
Life is not fair. There, I have stated what all should know. We all need to accept the reality that even the righteous encounter trouble and suffer here on earth. Need I raise the issue of Hurricane Ian and flash fires in the western portion of the United States and parts of Europe? Hundreds of thousands of really good people found themselves in desperate circumstances. Some of you who are reading this devotional have dealt with the savage fury of a life-threatening health crisis or the gut-wrenching agony of abuse. All of us who know the Lord have also faced troubles with God when we rebelled against Him. These things happen as naturally as sparks flying upward (5:7; NAC). So, in the meantime, we might as well explore the nature of our God in the face of these realities.
Thinking rightly about God’s equity
Yes, the “in the meantime” moments provide us with a clearer picture of one key Divine characteristic—God’s justice. Job 5:8-16 stresses three features of “God’s just governance of the universe.” First, God is sovereign over nature and the fortunes of all humankind (8:10-11). Job’s generation depended upon rain to grow and to harvest their crops. We know how unpredictable the weather can be, but to people who depend upon agriculture it can be highly stressful (cf. “deluge” in Genesis 6-9 and “drizzle” in Ezra 10:9; NAC). Notice that Eliphaz links verse 10 and 11 together to show that the giving or withholding of rain serves the purposes of God’s justice (cf. 37:13). The underlying point is that God honors the humble and saves those who walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Secondly, God apprehends and punishes wrongdoers (8:12-14). Now, Eliphaz concludes correctly that God will judge, but he applies the principle incorrectly to his friend Job. Eliphaz would be a serious candidate for “de-friending” on my Facebook page, but I digress. The point is that God will finally thwart the wicked (8:12), apprehend them (8:13), and punish them (8:14).
Thirdly, our just God will deliver the needy and oppressed. Eliphaz uses a phrase that means the charges of the wicked against the righteous are the “swords” from which God saves them (NAC). Our just God will shut the “sword-like” mouth of the wicked (8:16). Add together these principles and we will see that we live in an evil world filled with natural evil (catastrophes) and human wickedness. God, however, is just and delivers His faithful ones. “In the meantime,” as you and I wait for His deliverance, we may trust Him.

Applying the Passage to our Lives

I placed an order with a company that provides tracking. I decided to make this order the first big delivery to our new facility. I was filled with excitement to see the delivery truck pull up, but the driver only off-loaded two of the five expected boxes. Not to worry, I thought, because the others will arrive tomorrow. Well, tomorrow arrived and left without a delivery. I began to grow concerned. A lot of money was invested in that delivery. Thankfully, my tracking of the remaining packages informed me that they would be there the following day. Even then, only two—and not “the patiently waited for” three!—packages arrived.
My mind began to imagine all sorts of things. Perhaps someone in a distant city was enjoying my final delivery, or maybe the delivery was actually placed on lengthy back-order. Let’s all say in unison, “Supply Chain!” Thankfully, the final part of what I had expected in full arrived today. I realized all of the wonderful new delivery people I had met who, otherwise, I would have never encountered. The situation has provided me with some important lessons in what to do “in the meantime.” We do well when we serve the Lord faithfully “in the meantime.” Simple enough? Well, there is something more about waiting on God’s final disposition of justice.
Here is a bit of moral perspective. Justice alone cannot (and does not) provide us with the whole picture of God’s nature and actions toward us (cf. Exodus 34:6-7, also “abounding in lovingkindness”). We need to remember that God is “love” (1 John 4:16). He has shown us supremely His love and justice in His Son (Romans 5:6-8).
Notice, too, that Jesus demonstrates, as well, the Divine attributes of love and justice (Luke 8:22-25, storm; Luke 19:45-46, money-changers; and Luke 8:26-39, oppressed). Therefore, God was indeed lovingly satisfying the demands of His justice through the death of His Son (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Over the course of time. I am sure that Job (and we, too!) began to realize that his circumstances were permitted by a just and loving God. The key element throughout the experiences was an abiding trust in his God. We do well to practice the same faith in our Lord.

Reflecting Upon and Discussing the Passage

1. There was a beachfront development of homes in Florida coastline that survived hurricane Ian. The developer revealed why those homes survived the storm with only a few roof shingles missing and other minor damage. “In the meantime,” when there was no major storm, those homes were built to withstand Category 4 hurricanes, like Ian, with winds more than 140 mph.

You and I may do the same spiritually. Deepen your walk with the Lord each day, despite the struggles that you are facing (Matthew 7:24-27). He cares for and prepares you.
2. For Families: Sometimes our families, or individuals in our families, are faced with circumstances that force them to wait on God to do His work on their behalf. Maybe Dad and Mom find themselves between jobs. Maybe little brother breaks his leg and has to be immobile for eight weeks. Maybe a loved one is very ill or dies. Finding new jobs, healing physically or emotionally, or any number of other kinds of situations involve this kind of waiting.

As our devotional above has shown us, we can help our children to grow strong in this area. We can teach them how to wait on God to answer our prayers. Ask your children to draw three pictures to hang side by side. The first is to show that God is in charge of the world and all of the people in it (including us). The second picture is to remind us that God punishes evil and wins every time. He is our Hero! The last picture is to show how much God loves us, comforts us in our hard times, and proves that we can trust Him.

Hang these artistic expressions of God’s character where your family can see them, rejoice in them, and grow in faith.

May all your paths be straight,

Larry C. Ashlock