Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Job is the perfect example of the question, “why do bad things happen to good people?” He’s the character we relate to when something bad happens to us. He starts out in the story with every imaginable blessing. He has wealth, land, family, influence, and happiness. He is a righteous man and goes out of his way to glorify God, offering back what has been given to him. It’s easy to make the connection between his faith and his blessings in the same way we make the connection between career success and responsibility or a loving spouse with our own selflessness. It’s karma, right? If you’re good, then the world will be good to you.
But we know that the world seldom works like that. You can work yourself to the bone and not advance in your career. You can do everything in your power to make your spouse happy and still feel unappreciated. You can give everything you have to God and still suffer.
This week we will be talking about the different traps we face when trying to understand God and the world around us. The first trap is the trap of success, wealth, and power. Most agree those are good things, and good things come from God, right? Think of all the good things we could do if we only had more success, wealth, and power! The trap lies in the belief that those things belong to us. As more and more of Job’s blessings are taken away from him, his friends assume that he has sinned in some way and that God is punishing him. But everything Job has, including Job himself, belongs to God. Blessings of success give us a false sense of almost having enough. “If I just earned a little bit more, then I could really start helping others.” “If I just had that job, then I would really be making a difference.” The truth is that everything we have is already on loan from God. He distributes wealth, success, and power as He sees fit, and I can’t think of many examples of God obeying the rules of karma. Many of God’s most faithful servants were poor, desolate, hunted, and murdered. Abraham was a refugee. Moses wandered the desert. Elijah was constantly pursued by enemies. Jesus was crucified. Stephen was stoned. Everything bad you can imagine happened to Paul. Our prosperity doesn’t belong to us. God doesn’t promise us wealth or power in exchange for our faithfulness.
When we acknowledge that God doesn’t owe us success, we are free from the first trap.