Genie In a Bottle

(Today's post by Tim David)

Job 20 & 21

I have an 8, 6, and 4 year old here at the house. There are plenty of benefits to having kids, one main one is getting to watch all of classic cartoons and allow your imagination to take over. The one that allows gets me is Aladdin. I wish I could find a bottle with a genie in it. I think it would be kinda’ like finding the money tree my father was always asking me if I had seen. What we see through the story is that the wishes Genie granted Aladdin didn’t really work out for him. Bringing this around, do I treat God like a genie. Hey, I’ve been good, so God I wish ____ (you fill in the blank). What then, we’re going to lose faith just because our wish isn’t granted? Or, are you from the outside looking in, saying “Hey he/she obviously hasn’t been good enough, so no wonder why God doesn’t grant him/her ___.

I look at Zophar’s response and I can summarize it like this…I can’t believe you are still complaining and have turned on us, your friends. Of course you’re in this predicament because the reward for the wicked man is temporary. Therefore because you’ve lost everything, you are a wicked man. I love Job’s response in (vs 34), “How then will you vainly comfort me, For your answers remain full of falsehood?” Job is explaining the realization that bad things happen to good people, and that the antithesis is also true – good things happen to bad people. Searching for the “Why” in your situation doesn’t indicate faithlessness, but you can lose your faith as a result of not finding the “Why.” Ultimately, Job understands – God doesn’t just give good things when the Christian is “acting” the way he should.

So, is your God a “genie?” Here’s what I mean – you have a bottle, you have faith that there’s a genie in it, you do good things rubbing it, and out pops your God granting your wishes. My God is so much larger than this. He isn’t impressed at all by our good deeds. The only deeds that are “good” are done in His name, through His power. So quit thinking that just because you find yourself in the middle of whatever storm you’re in, it’s because of something you did. God doesn’t work on my or your timeline of “good deeds.” Instead, start acting like Job and focus on the goodness that God is and you will find yourself closer to Him than you ever have been.

Takeaways are these:

1. If you are in the middle of your storm today, try focusing on some of God’s attributes. This is exactly what Job started doing. He stopped complaining to God and his friends and started focusing on who God is. Like I said last week, it’s okay to complain and get angry with God – He can take it. There does need to be a change in focus. Meaning instead on focusing on where you are, start focusing on who is with you. Your friends aren’t there, your parents aren’t there, your spouse/significant other isn’t there with you; but if you are a Christian, God’s there with you. God will never leave you or forsake you – that’s a fact you can take to the bank. This is exactly what Job did in this chapter. We start seeing a fundamental shift from Job focusing on himself and focusing on the character of God.

2. If you are friend who is getting on to a brother/sister about their predicament, and you think you have the answers regarding why they’re there – just shut up and support them. You can’t put yourself in their position, so don’t try to diagnose how they got there. You aren’t God, so quit trying to take His place. Also, realize God doesn’t give someone a good life just because they are a good person. Do you think Job’s friends would have said anything different if they knew Satan was behind this whole thing? Just think about that before you cast dispersions.

I thank God, His blessings (or seeming lack thereof) aren’t dependant on me. If they were, I would be living a pretty miserable life. I can’t imagine going through death, loss of wealth, and loss of close friends without Christ being by my side. Christ isn’t always going to protect us from life, but He can use those experiences to show us Himself. As your focus changes, you will realize you are exactly where Christ has allowed you to be. Remember, Christ doesn’t give us “three wishes” when we accept His grace and mercy; so let’s not put His Majesty in the bottle of our actions.

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