"... he is in your hands..." Job 2:6
Imagine in the course of a few hours losing your business, all your assets, and having all your children killed in a freakish natural disaster. Such a tragedy is recorded in the Bible, detailing the record of a man named Job (pronounced J-oh-b). Within Job's story are accounts of another unseen story describing events in the spiritual realm: satan presents himself before God (Job 1:6); God refers to Job's life, asking if satan has observed the integrity of Job. Satan's retort sought to manipulate God by stating the obvious blessings God had given Job. When challenged by satan to remove those blessings, God allowed satan power over all Job's belongings - that's when all hell broke loose on Job... literally. Yet, Job did not sin through the horrible tragedies described above. Instead Job chose to worship God.
Today's simple phrase is found within the events of satan's second appearance before God, after he had brought so much havoc into the life of Job. This time, God gave satan power to rock Job's physical life without killing him. There are a lot worse things then death. You'd be surprised what one can live through. Job lived through misery of the worst kind, having boils breaking out all over his body, bringing such pain that he preferred death to the continuing agony being inflicted upon him. I wonder how he would have reacted had he known that it all began with God applauding Job's integrity, devotion, and piety.
What about you? Is your life a trophy for God to display? Are you blessed greatly? Education, check. Home, check. Family, check. Church fellowship, check. Job, check. Friends, check. Do you ever ask yourself, "OK, when is it all going to come caving in all around me? When does the trial start for me?" Or do you live in such a way that you will never have to worry about God singling you out for the Righteous One of the Year Award? Perhaps, like so many, you would prefer not to call any attention to yourself as being one set apart for God's purposes. You just don't want the attention, or the harassment, or the prejudice that comes from being a totally devoted follower of Christ.
Jesus described another time when satan would be given permission to wreak havoc on those God loves. It's found in Luke's description of the Lord's Supper, just prior to Jesus' betrayal on the Mount of Olives. Jesus had described to them the sequence of events to come: the betrayal, the execution, and the resurrection. Then the disciples began to argue over who would betray the Lord, followed by - of all things - a dispute on who is the greatest among them to rule with Jesus in the new Kingdom. Imagine! The Lord had shared his heart with them, and here they are pointing fingers at each other in condemnation as a 'turncoat', then arguing over who is the greatest! These were the same men that turned the world upside down after Pentecost! And we are just like they were... I know I am. Anyway, Jesus tells Simon (Peter), that an unseen event had taken place: satan had presented himself before God and had been given permission by God to let hell break out on the disciples - that he could sift them like wheat. (Luke 22:31) Doesn't sound very pleasant. However, Jesus reassured Simon, stating He had prayed for Simon, so that his faith would not fail, and that he would 'turn back' to strengthen his brothers (the disciples).
Jesus had already predicted Peter would deny Him three times... Peter would crumble... Peter would fail miserably... now Jesus was predicting Peter would return, stronger, renewed, revived to strengthen his brothers for the birth of the church. And Peter did just that, preaching a sermon that saw thousands who turned from darkness to light, following Christ.
Have you heard the latest from heaven? Has God brought your name to be heard in the halls of heaven's throne as satan makes his appearance before the Lord of Lords? Don't worry... He has prayed for you... so strengthen each other with these words.
He must increase, I must decrease.