“[His] pastoral concern, to submit to God’s sovereignty rather than questioning it, or even comprehending it, is evident in Calvin’s sermons on Job.”
~Derek Thomas, The Storm Breaks, p. 13.
How can someone preach effectively through Job having not felt something of the pit of personal injustice?
John Calvin didn’t have his 159 sermons on Job published until 1574 even though he’d preached them twenty years earlier. It’s perhaps no coincidence that he preached from Job for every day over nearly six months during a time of “severe attack from all quarters,” in response to his doctrine of pre-destination—a pastorally inspired thesis.
How Job Can Help Us Make Sense of Suffering
Calvin seemed to understand with acute awe what suffering meant; that, through Job’s witness, anyone could eventually come to see the beauty in their suffering, as an unanswerable plight that dictated proper submission under God. For all other philosophies of rectification are useless.
Identification with God seems to be the thing to do. That is, the simple acknowledgement, with the Lord, that his thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). They are, and always will be, higher.
Job went full circle over a long period of time, as did Calvin, and as do we as we recover from grief.
This full circle of recovery is most prevalently achieved in submission, pure and requiting.
Submission – Easier Than First Thought
When we submit to the sovereignty of the Lord, we have our wills aligned to take us into peace and fullest magnitude of grace.
From that position, as a status-of-outcome, motivation to take hold of it is assumed. We’ve everything to gain—unto our spiritual transcendence.
The irony is submission is most lucid when we’re undergoing suffering, so for the ones who are breezing through life it’s never as meaningful, though the majority of people have their ongoing challenges.
To submit might be a new thing. Commensurate with the will to totally surrender comes the purging and relieving sense of grace maybe never before known.
The beauty of such a concept is—whilst we suffer—the window of opportunity of the fullest possible knowledge of God’s kingly providence (within the constraints of this life) can be known. This is the Lord’s bequeathing of items-of-Presence that cannot be received or claimed elsewhere, from any angle.
Such Spiritual blessings are as real as they’re rare. Given the right response in suffering, however, immediate access is made to them!
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: Derek Thomas, The Storm Breaks: Job Simply Explained – Welwyn Commentary Series (Durham, England: Evangelical Press, 1995), pp. 11-17.