My Whatsapp chatgroup (Grace United Faith Club) was so excited by yesterday's powerful sermon (sermon notes aggregated by Terence Yeo available here) that we had a little cyber bible study last night and Geri was inspired to write a very intriguing post - Job and Jesus and the number 33.
However, unlike Geri's article, my post today is not really a deep word study of Job but rather I want to share a little detail which struck me as I read Job 1 and made me wonder if Job was really a sucessful man.
By all accounts, by society's standards then and now, Job would be considered a successful, nay , a VERY successful man because he "was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East".
I'm sure Job's mother-in-law would probably say that her daughter had landed a great catch - a moral, God-fearing and very rich man. Nevertheless, reading in between the lines, I come to the realisation that while he was indeed a very successul man, Job actually did not enjoy good success because he was always living in fear.
Firstly, Job was always fearful that his children would incur the wrath of God with their partying ways:
4 His sons used to go and feast in the house of each on his day (birthday) in turn, and they invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them.
5 And when the days of their feasting were over, Job sent for them to purify and hallow them, and rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed or disowned God in their hearts. Thus did Job at all [such] times.
I read from these verses (in between the lines) that Job was not really close to his children, and hence he did not have a great influence over their lives. Perhaps he was too busy with his business (or careers in our case) and spent little time with them as they were growing up, and hence the children respected him but did not have any affection for him.
I know the verses did not explicitly say so but in my (Holy Spirit inspired)imagination, I can picture the children not feeling comfortable around their father and hence would rather not include him in their birthday celebrations.
Why should Job, a "blameless and upright man", fear that his sons may have sinned? Shouldn't he have the confidence that his sons would be just as blameless and upright as him? Sadly, no, he did not. I believe this was probably because he invested most of his time in his business, in accumulating his great wealth and invested little time in bringing up his children in the ways of God. Take note that it was Job, not the children themselves, who arranged for sacrifices to be offered on their behalf.
Sadly, I have to confess that this is what happened to me too. I have been hawkering for the last ten years and my long hours at the stall meant that I spent very little time with them as they were growing up. I had set aside Sunday as an off day to go to church as a family, and have lunch together and a spot of shopping after service but clearly that is not enough. My three sons are not affectionate with me although I do have their respect (or I'd like to think that I do).
However, on a brighter note, I believe God does redeem the time which the locusts have eaten, and my relationship with my sons has improved over the past few years and now they readily come to me for and listen to my advice.
My second son joined his school's (Singapore Polytechnic) dragon boat team for his CCA becuase he heard that their training was very tough and he wanted to get very fit through that. However, the seniors in the team are not Godly people, always cursing and swearing at them with vulgarities and heaping a lot of punishments (push ups and other physical exercises) on my son and his fellow first-year recruits at every little excuse.
My wife had been nagging him to quit because of the physical and psychological abuse by his seniors but my son did not want to because he wanted to be recognised as being tough enough to survive the notoriously harsh dragon boat training. He was also conditioned by the seniors to think that those who quit the team are weak. I told my wife not to give him further pressure as he already has to deal with the self-imposed pressure of not being seen as a weakling by quitting.
Anyway, he has joined the team for about two months and last week before he went for another training session, I noticed that he had a look of dread on his face... so I told him that regardless of what CCA he joins, the most important thing is that he must find it enjoyable. It is okay to quit the team if he is not enjoying it and the past two months were not wasted as he has benefited from the physical training and gotten very fit.
Later in the afternoon, my wife called me to inform me that my son had called her up at the office to inform her that he had quit the team. He sounded a bit down and my wife asked me to talk to him when i reach home after work.
After I reached home later that night, my son told me that he smsed his quit decision to his fellow teammates and most of them just said a curt "Bye" while one senior got hold of a recruit's phone and berated him as a quitter.
I took this teaching opportunity to counsel my son on what I've learned in these ten years of being in NCC. I told him that his identity is not in what he does or able to do but rather his identity is in Christ and that will not change whatever he does, now in school, later in the army and after that in his career.
I also told him that it is normal to feel hurt when people say bad things about him and it is important to just let those words fly over his head and not let them build a nest on it. I told him to disregard words from people whom he barely knew and have no regad for his welfare.
I'm happy to report that my second son is more cheerful now and arranging with another friend to join the air-rifle club which he is trying set up (currently in the midst of gettting approval from the school authorities). Thank you Jesus :-)
Okay, thanks for reading all the way up to here... I shall continue my post in Part 2... akan datang ;-)