Saturday, September 25, 2010

Opportunities and Tests - Defining Our Lives

“The LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil’.”

~Job 1:8 (NRSV).

What follows is always a perplexing theology for the majority. And at different levels there are many of us too that accept there are mysteries unexplainable—still, we’re confounded by them.

Was Job’s circumstance a test or an opportunity? These are two separate entities and then there is a situation where tests become opportunities... if we can grapple with Joban theology, holding the dramatic tensions of tormenting chaos at bay.

Empathy – First and Foremost

We must cower just to think of some of the calamitous disasters that strike some people. These often are beyond opportunity. The test has come and it is—for a good length of time—insurmountable. Nothing helps, and least of all words.

Beyond these times, however, there are opportunities; these to use the pain for some greater good, as it comes about that we either travel this good path afterward or we shrink and become lesser persons. Middle ground seems non-existent.

But, there must always be empathy for those struck to the heart by losses and grief.

Differences Between Opportunities and Tests

Tests, as we’ve looked at above, involve some profound external reason for lament—at the extremity of pain. Sure, there are little daily ‘tests’ as well as these seasonal and significant life tests, but these are more in the scope of opportunities in terms of the present discussion.

Job’s Situation

Was Job ready to convert his test into an opportunity?

No, it took him some time to deal with his situation productively—complete with the folly of solace provided via his ‘friends’—but it can also be seen that Job’s very reactions to his situation and his friends were productive; perhaps, the necessary, chastening path—something we all travel over as we recover.

Our Situations

Tests and opportunities come into all our lives, and many tests convert into opportunities, given time. Certainly there are some things the godly character converts straight away into an opportunity—those things that we are allowing God to train us in. Things, perhaps, that test our momentary patience.

The Feet of Readiness

“As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.”

~Ephesians 6:15 (NRSV).

This is perhaps the real lesson. We all find places of great comfort in our God. Job was certainly there as the Lord spoke with Satan (literally, “the satan”) initially. And perhaps we get lax. Then comes the devil’s blindsiding. Suddenly we go spiralling into an inexplicable abyss.

This merely reminds us of the ever-present danger that hovers about; God there but so too calamity potentially at any point also.

And the point simply is, when we’re ever-ready to proclaim this gospel of peace over our situations, anticipating pain, discomfort and no less spiritual treason, we are ready—or as ready as we can be—to fight as best we can... to convert the test eventually into an opportunity.

And, finally, for those potential tests that aren’t forthcoming, we are undoubtedly grateful—the mood of thankfulness fills our continual prayer.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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