“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. —Job 1:9
The conversation between the Lord and Satan, so spirit-warming and encouraging yesterday takes a decidedly nasty turn today. Satan, full of venom for God’s people, throws down the gauntlet. The New Living Translation Bible puts our verse this way,
Satan replied to the LORD, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God.”
Like a litigator arguing his case, Satan points out the logical reason why Job serves God. It hinges on the fact that Job only loves God because of the blessings he received. Satan wants to take it all away and show the Lord what is really in Job’s heart. He wants to prove that God, by Himself, is not worth of our love. He wants to reveal how weak we are and how frail our faith is – by making sure God sees that our devotion is based on what we get, not real love.
This question, however, whether I love God because of who He is or just because of what He has done for me – is not a bad one. When you start to think about why you follow Christ, you might be surprised. Many of the faithful have encountered situations that make them consider the cost of loving Jesus. Soren Kierkegaard, one of the deepest theological philosophers of the 19th century, slept with the Book of Job under his pillow. Kierkegaard had this to say:
Every word of his is food and gladness to my ailing soul. Now one word rouses me from my lethargy, so that I awaken to new disquietude; now it quiets the fruitless fury within me and puts an end to the horrible feeling of mute nausea produced by passion. You surely have read Job? Read him, read him over and over again.
This is an unusual choice to make for favorite book of the Bible. Kierkegaard had a predisposition to dwelling in the depths of his faith, but I don’t. I like to dwell in the parts of God I know, the shallow depths where I can see the bottom. I don’t want to swim out to the deep because it means I’ll have to be very uncomfortable and do a lot of hard work.
But when we don’t ask this question of ourselves, why we love and respect God, we are tempted to trade a relationship for religion. Don’t get me wrong, boundaries are good, but when they keep you fenced in so that you can’t experience who Jesus really is, it’s like exchanging good for bad. When we don’t explore the depths of our relationship with God on a regular basis, we are in serious danger of replacing grace with fear and mercy with condemnation.
There are moments coming that will force our hand. I’m not sure what that will look like in your life, but when I faced my own “dark night of the soul” (St. John of the Cross) I found the answer to Satan’s question. I now know with certainty that Jesus is more than enough to sustain me, not because of what He gives me but simply because of who He is.
I can understand why Kierkegaard held onto the words of Job with so much fervor. It is only in the fire that we truly comprehend the cost of the Cross, and we aren’t left empty-handed. Asking those tough questions leads us to peace and joy not granted any other way. It is the best path to finding out who we really are and growing in God’s love.
Take time to explore the question posed today – and seek God in the answer.
Dearest Lord – Thank You that You are a God big enough for me to question. Thank You for being with me even when I wrestle with doubt and when I search for answers to tough questions. Show me the peace that surpasses all understanding when I go deep with You and let me come out of any season of doubt full of love for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.