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Saturday, 26 April 2014

A Day of the Devil...

Job, a righteous character in the Old Testament, made it his commitment to walk with God everyday of his life, most likely from his youth. He was a rich man who had a great many flocks and herds. He also had several sons and daughters, who all grew up well and then flew their nest to settle in homes of their own. Not much unlike the way we do things at present. Every day Job devoted himself to the Lord, most likely to a degree which would put most of us modern believers to shame. Then one day, someone called to bring the dire news that the Sabeans had routed Job's land and taken away every beast he owned, and killing all but one of his servants, who managed to escape. From richness to poverty in an instant, not even knowing where is next decent meal will come from. His immediate future looks to be vegetarian. Barely was the message delivered when another messenger arrived to announce the death of all his offspring by a storm while they were feasting in the home of his eldest son.
All in one day, the loss of everything he had - his livestock, his sons and daughters - had turned this rich father of many to a childless man in dire poverty. Yet his response was, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart." Then, when he thought he had hit bottom, worse was to come - he fell ill, very close to the point of death.

I wondered if Job ever became angry with God. One possible clue was through the attitude of his wife. Why don't you just curse God and die? she most likely shouted in her frustration, while his reply was tantamount to, Oh, shut up, woman! (Job 2:9-10).
Personally, I would have been surprised if Job kept his British stoicism and quietly replied that he was born naked, and will also die naked, without any emotion showing through. In fact, such an attitude would made this chap so superhuman, that there is no way I could match such an ideal, at least not for this emotionally-charged Italian. Like as this morning (Friday) when I pulled the living room curtains open to greet in the new day - only to find the back gate wide open and my bicycle stolen. My heart dropped to my feet in desperation. Suddenly, my only mode of transport, so vital for day-to-day living, was taken for dishonest profit at the expense of the rightful owner.

But it was more than a loss of a vital utility. There was sentimental value attached to the bike. I had it for many years, for such a long duration that I can't even recall how I got it in the first place. But I think only the frame, the old cottered crankshaft, and the split saddle were the original parts still fully functioning. The rest, including both wheels, the chain, rear gear cassette, and a multitude of tyres were acquired over the years of the bike's life. The rear wheel in particular was brand new, along with the tyre, after half a dozen spokes broke one soon after another in the old wheel which this one replaced. And such re-fits costs money.

Then to add to this sorrowful scenario, my dear wife, although out of hospital since December, is fully dependant on medication in order to live a near-normal life, at least indoors. Fresh supplies of medicine are gotten very frequently, as various laws in the medical profession forbids the stocking up of certain drugs by the patient. So when there is lack of communication between doctors and secretarial staff, along with disagreement among doctors themselves, a plethora of problems arise with the prescription renewal. Today, Friday of all days, the required prescription request was denied on a bureaucratic technicality. This meant a weekend and at least a Monday without medicine. If my wife's symptoms were to erupt during that period, it would have meant an emergency rush to hospital in an ambulance with its sirens screaming. Throughout the day I felt as low as I could get, with the world as it seemed, fallen at my feet, and dominated by fear of the future combined with anger at such bureaucracy, with one receptionist disagreeing with another on what is defined as "two working days." One says its not less than 24 hours (i.e. with one night in between), another says it's 48 hours (i.e with two nights in between). So this throws the spanner into the meticulous working out of calculating when to renew, taking in weekends and statutory holidays to boot! And the reality is: a doctor takes only a moment to print out a prescription. All of this gives the impression that my wife is seen by them as "an annoying patient, a wretched nuisance."

Then comes the news bulletin of the arrival of Prince William and his wife Catherine and son George from a tour of Australia and New Zealand. The sight of such a rich, happy, smiling family with not a worry in the world when my own world has imploded, does get me down even further. Adored by the nation, unable to do anything amiss, if either of the three happen to complain of a sore throat, the medical team would be by their side in minutes. If the ambulance would be unfortunate enough to be caught up in a traffic snarl, there would be a national outcry. Every effort would have been made by the palace staff that medicine is always available. No bureaucratic wrangles for them. No feelings of being thrown to the wayside by the medical team if the health of either of them were to fail.

As people, I have nothing against any of the Royals. It's my opinion that such an institution holds the country together in a way no republican system could so easily. What I find so astonishing is the attitude of adoration, the protocol and the pageantry no other nation bestows on their head of state as we do in England. One newspaper article did put a smile on my face this evening. It was about the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who wrapped his arm around the prince before boarding the flight back to London. The press raised its hands in horror, declaring that it was against protocol for a commoner to touch, let alone embrace a Royal, unless the Royal extends his or her hand for a handshake.  However, this was not the first time in Australian politics. Back in 1992, then Prime Minister Paul Keating had his arm around the Queen, therefore earning the title Lizard of Oz.  One of the benefits of online reading is the comment forum which follows the article. I was taken by one contributor, who wrote:
Oh do get a life - skin and bone is skin and bone - stop this stupid worshipping of other planetary beings and have some self-respect.
And what a surprise! That comment was written by a Canadian living across the Atlantic.

And so be it. Only a week or so previously, news came in of our own P.M. on his Easter break at the Canary Islands. Ignoring warnings, he went for a swim in the jellyfish-infested sea, and sure enough, returned to the beach in pain. No doubt, the marine creature had failed to see that this guy was a celebrity and a political leader. To test for reaction, I shared this article on Facebook. I did not receive a single "like" or comment. No doubt, my English friends were enraged that such a humble jellyfish could have such audacity to sting such an important person as David Cameron, even though he thought he knew better than the beach lifeguards who tried to warn him.

So where does this connect with Job? This Biblical character was a rich man who humbly walked before God. My own disappointment and frustration of the day had tempted me to accuse God of having only a selective, or graded love for mankind. That means God loves one person more than another. Even Scripture backs this up: Romans 9:15, which is a quote from Exodus 33:19, reads:
I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.

When feeling angry, I tend to think without saying anything aloud, Why, God, why are some blessed more than others? Just because I was a total loss at school, I have been a loser ever since, to this day! So-and-so at church is so blessed! Respectable job, a devoted family. Of course, he does have a degree...

This brings me to the idea that God has a preference for the middle classes, the sort who fill our English churches. Even at Ascot, there is one couple who looks on me with disdain, simply because I don't act "English." It is an unnecessary turning of the emotional screw as I watch my dear wife suffer a severe backache, her difficulty in walking, housebound, and shedding rivers of tears - while some greedy sod is making money on stolen property on my expense! But here is the crunch. Wealthy middle class church-goers don't generally steal. I could leave my spanking new mount unsecured in their presence or leave money lying around, and both will still be there when I return. But dare to leave my bike unsecured in the street when there is a group of unemployed "hoodies" milling outside a pub just down the road? For the matter, would I even be brave (or foolish) enough to wheel the bicycle past them without feeling threatened? What if a fight breaks out among them over drug dealing or gang rivalry, and one gets killed? What then of the soul of the deceased? It comes very close to reason that good schooling and a university degree are both essential for salvation. For this, just take a look inside any church here in the UK.

Yes, I'm having a rant here, but I guess it's good to be downright honest with myself rather than write sanctimonious articles while covering up how I really feel. There is time for everything - for both writing blogs which teach or edify, and for letting off steam, as in this case.

Job lived much of his life in blessed security, and even Satan accused God for this. Of course, university degrees did not exist back then, but he used the wisdom God gave him to breed cattle and livestock the correct way along with trading which would make him rich. I guess he could be classed as the equivalent of a city banker of today, except with the godly sorrow which led to his salvation, rather than the ferocious arrogance today's bankers have which would only lead to death.

After loss of his wealth, his offspring and his health, Job too felt the unfairness of life, and yes, he vented his steam, even if he knew that he was righteous, asked why God allowed these things to happen to him. Here is just a sample of his rant:

I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free reign to my complaint and speak out against the bitterness of my soul.
I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me.
Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile at the schemes of the wicked? (Job 10:1-3.)

Job, like me, was angry at his circumstances as I was with mine. He went through, so to speak, a day of the Devil, as I have went through this day. He felt anger, frustration, that God was being unfair and unjust, and in a sense, playing a cruel game with him. Yet in one of my recent blogs, God or Satan? I quoted another author's idea that God had never approved of Satan's testing of Job or of any other form of destruction. Jesus himself backs this up. In John 10:10, Jesus is quoted in saying:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

I believe that Satan has a day with all believers sometime in their lives, I would say quite a number of times in a believer's lifetime. The outcome is always the same: loss of property; loss of health; death of a loved one; misery, anger, fear, and depression; catastrophes of both minor or major scale. For examples of major disasters: the San Francisco earthquakes, tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, the eruption of Mt Vesuvius which wiped out the cities of Pompeii and Ercolano, mass hunger in Africa and so on. Jesus came to atone for our sins and to defeat the works of the evil one, and to impart life. That was the reason he came, according to his own word in John's Gospel. And we can see many demonstrations of this in all four Gospels, but one of the clearest was his discourse with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus knew of her past - her failed relationship with five previous husbands, and acknowledging that her co-habitation with her present partner was not her husband. But Jesus did not bring up her past to condemn, but to prove to her that he was the Christ, the Messiah who was to come. Instead of punishing her, he offered her living water, if when drank she would never thirst spiritually again. In other words, he offered her not death for her transgressions, but eternal life - (John 4.)

If Jesus' mission was to atone for all our sins by nailing them on the cross, and to impart eternal life to all who believe, does this apply to us today? Then what of all the bad things that happen to us, such as in my case, my only mode of transport nicked, the illness of my beloved, her suffering as a result, the bureaucratic quibbling at the doctor's surgery, and the emotional toil, anger, frustration, and fear? Well, if God's wish for me is to impart life and have it to the full, then all these negative things must have come from the Adversary, whose intent is to steal, kill and destroy, with the purpose of making our walk with God is difficult as it can get. The worst thing about all this is that too often he is successful, having done his homework thoroughly.

What was the outcome of the prescription renewal? Well, at 18.10 hours the doctor 'phoned us at home, asking whether we still need the renewal. I replied, saying we did, and if available, I'll be at the surgery to collect it straight away. Twenty minutes was all I had left to pick up the prescription, then make my way to the pharmacy to collect the medicine itself. I made it in seconds flat, although still suffering over the loss of the bicycle, I was able to thank the Lord for his goodness in allowing the doctor to intervene in the nick of time.

After all, wasn't it Job who, during his hour of darkness, declared:
I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself shall see him with my own eyes, I and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27.)

Yes, spot on, Job.



  1. I agree with what you have said Frank concerning where all these negative thoughts have come from, the enemy. Jesus said that we would have trouble in this world, but in Him we have peace. I have never worried about status, and have learned to be content in various circumstances. I would rather be an ordinary person and have Jesus than be filthy rich and not have Him. This life is like a puff of smoke and money and status in it can never bring what we have to look forward to in Jesus. I firmly believe in divine healing and that is why I would encourage you to not let the enemy fill your mind with doubt concerning Alex. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and it comes through hearing and hearing by the word of God, so continue with 'hope' Frank. God bless you both with what He has promised in Jesus.

  2. Dear Frank,
    So sorry to hear of your bike being stolen and of Alex's continued health difficulties. There is no shame in letting off steam, for we are here to bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. God is not the author of pain, sorrow or trouble, but I believe He allows it in our lives, even when we are living righteously and in His will, for our ultimate good and His glory. It may be to strengthen our faith and dependence on Him, to be more conformed to the image of His Son through suffering, and/or to have the experience and compassion to be able to counsel and encourage others going through similar trials. Often we don't understand it, but I believe that in glory we will appreciate how He worked in our lives through trials.
    Praying for you & Alex.
    God bless,

  3. Thank God, he's still in charge. As you mentioned, he still enabled you to get the medicine Alex needed. If we are honest, we all have similar discouragements, and God is glorified when we follow him in spite of them.