Job 2: 10 “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
It’s a simple question. Many may feel uncomfortable with the thought that God can give us trouble; He is after all a gracious and loving God – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). That doesn’t sound like He will give us any trouble does it? But we know also that our God is all-knowing and all-powerful. So He knows we are suffering and is not powerless to do anything about it – thus He is at least prepared to allow the suffering even if He doesn’t cause it.
2020 will be remembered for a long time as the year of trouble for the whole world. There are, no doubt, a few remote places that have escaped Covid 19 but they will be few and largely unpopulated areas. Of course, it is not just Covid 19; fires have destroyed large areas of the world and there has been much flooding too and storms have wreaked much damage. All of this on top of the ‘normal’ suffering – there are still wars being fought and people suffering from persecution, hunger and state brutality. Even in civilised countries like United States and our own United Kingdom there have been incidents shown of policemen using brutal methods to subdue people. We live in an era where bad news travels even faster than it used to and mobile phone footage is often used in news reports.That brings to mind another question that Jan raised in a recent Sunday service – “When we see such suffering, such brutality – do we cry?” Sadly, the answer is almost certainly NO for most of us. Follow the news with a half-hour soap episode and it is all forgotten! Unless we are directly affected then we will feel sadness and revulsion but we will not feel the pain. (“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Job 2:4)
Good can come from trouble:I remember from my Unipart days the chief executive had a saying – “Out of adversity comes opportunity”. Lockdowns have provided opportunity for communities to respond in many good ways – creating and delivering food parcels, shopping for those who are shielding, delivering prescriptions, showing support for our over-worked NHS staff, fund-raising for many charities and organisations that have lost their ability to raise funds.The scriptures tell us to ” Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12). Earlier in Romans Paul says “But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and, character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5 : 3-5)
So I repeat:  “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Prayer: Father, we trust in you. We trust you to uphold us, to bring us to maturity, to comfort us, to use us to help others. In times of trouble as well as in good times we know that you walk beside us. Holy Spirit please show us how to mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep. Increase our compassion and bring us the comfort we need. In Jesus’s name. Amen

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