Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

A Thankful Heart . . .

Is a Guarded Heart

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 03 November 2009

"Peace of Christ guards our heart when
we pray with thanksgiving.

A thankful heart is a guarded heart.”

~ Wayne Cordeiro

Are you on Facebook? I admit it . . . I misuse and discard valuable time on Facebook. But, I have noticed a trend on my homepage lately: So many of my friends use their status update to offer up their dilemma of the day only to then use the opportunity to quote Ephesians 5:20:

"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. "

Or Philippians 4:6:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God.”

I do have to ask myself, "Do people quote these verses only for the value of being able to quote Scripture? Or are they really living out the verse?"
Honestly, I don't always live out the verse. Do you?

It's probably a toss up -- some people do just like to put up a Bible verse. But I give the benefit of the doubt to my Facebook friends. Some of them truly are suffering yet sincerely live out the act of thanksgiving! And not-so-surprisingly, they are somehow supernaturally guarded from the discouragement, despair, hollowness, and hopelessness that so many others dwell in . . . .

I have Facebook friends enduring cancer treatments. I have Facebook friends with terminally-ill children. I have Facebook friends who are military moms -- daily facing the uncertainty, uneasiness, and horror of our world's unstable political and military conditions. I have Facebook friends who are in true financial despair. I have a Facebook friend whose son was murdered last month. . .

Yet . . . in the midst of their suffering, they seem to possess a peace. I really believe that the peace of Christ has guarded their hearts in the midst of some greatly undeserved suffering.

The quandary of undeserved suffering is a puzzling mystery and an age-old question. Why does God allow the righteous to suffer? And why is it so hard for us to understand that resting in His peace is as easy as simply being Thankful? It’s the question that the Book of Job addresses:

In just a matter of hours an especially righteous and notably wealthy man loses all of his material possessions, each of his children are killed, and his good health is snatched away from him.

Next, to add misery to despair, Job’s friends condemn him rather than console him. And then his wife turns on him! Worst of all, the God he loves and serves refuses to answer his cries and rise to his defense and do something. Anything!

By the time we reach Chapter 38 in the Book of Job, we’ve come to appreciate the depth of Job’s affliction. We’ve wallowed in his misery, we’ve undeniably considered our own suffering, we’ve listened to Job's smart-aleck friends offer their own pretentious and useless wisdom, and we’ve perhaps ourselves questioned God’s role in the whole mess. At this point we are left pretty much famished for spiritual food and drink.

Enter: GOD.
. . .Not through another “counselor,” but by direct revelation!

God speaks for 70 verses in these next two chapters before Job has an opportunity to respond. And when he does, Job only mumbles words suggesting that God’s speech has undone him:

"I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more."

~ Job 40:3-5

Q: What is it in the words of Job Chapters 38 and 39 that evoke such a change from the defiant Job of Job 31:35 to the abashed Job of Job 40:3?

A: Speaking from a whirlwind of a mighty storm, God – surprisingly – does not answer any of Job’s questions. Instead of answering Job’s charge of abandonment, God challenges Job to respond as He defends the design of His creation and the very existence of the entire universe.

As we read these poetic verses, it is obvious that God’s questions could not possibly be answered by any human. The Divine questions reveal to Job that he does not know the ways of God. And if Job is ignorant of the earth’s natural order, it’s ridiculous to think that he (or any human) could comprehend the moral order of God!!!

There is a purpose in creation that God knows but Job does not.

There is a purpose in human suffering that God knows but Job does not.

God's great power and wisdom is certainly a contrast to Job's limited ability and understanding. Overwhelmed, Job admits his unworthiness and inability to answer. But, God is not through with Job yet. God continues for 53 more verses! You could say Job was silenced and humiliated by his own self-centeredness and pity.

Henry M. Morris writes these words

. . . even Christians have become self-centered instead of God-centered. We emphasize personal Christianity, personal experience, self-image, inter-personal relationships, and what Jesus can do to meet our needs. All these have their place in the Christian life, but not when they relegate God and his purpose in creation to only a peripheral role. . . .
(The Remarkable Record of Job ©1988)

I would contend that most Christians in today's world have become so self-centered that we have completely and utterly forgotten to be THANKFUL for our very existence. We have forgotten to be THANKFUL for the very existence of the universe. We have forgotten to be THANKFUL that God is GOD.

. . . When faced with majesty and sovereignty and power and wisdom of GOD, there is little else to do but be thankful, to submit our suffering to Him, to rest guardedly in his care.

"Peace of Christ guards our heart when we pray with thanksgiving.
A thankful heart is a guarded heart.”

~ Wayne Cordeiro

~ Esthermay V. Bentley-Goossen
© 2009 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

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This installment of InOtherWords is hosted by Karen
on her blog, In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus.


Barbara said...

I love that Henry M. Morris quote. You won't hear that in most evangelical churches today. I struggle often with whether I should just be thankful in my weakness or pray for greater strength. I'm reminded that we are to pray for "wisdom" not necessarily strength to endure. It is HIS strength IN US that allows us to endure.
Wonderful writing.

kalopoieo said...

The Book of Job should be required reading for all Christians.

Pam said...

At my website we are reading thru Job together this month, and here is a great resource from John Piper: a free online book!

sharon said...

Thanks for a great post. Your blog is always so full of wisdom.
Our pastor is preaching from the book of Job right now. It is a hard message for some poeple to hear because he explains like you that we must erase self and look at GOD; hard to do is such a self-centered culture. Loved your article about self-help. Just had to laugh.

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing such a wisedom filled post sweetie.

Joan said...

I am so grateful that God's Word is full of examples we can live by and pattern our lives after. I have to remind myself that there is nothing in scripture that guarantees my physical health and wealth despite what even Christian leaders tell me. PEACE is ours and I love the idea that I am GUARDED when I have christ's peace. **Wonderful post**

Anonymous said...

Oh so true! The book of Job is another of my favorites. Can I say that? ;) I love the chapters where God says, "You talkin' to me?" well not really, but he lays out his holiness.
Jessie at Blog Schmog

iowachic said...

I agree w/ kalopoieo. Job should be required reading for all Christians. The message of Job carries us right up to today. It's an age-old story, but we still don't "get it" Too much pride.

Susan said...

Simple incredible!!!

What a gifted writer you are Esthermay.

This was excellent.

One of my favorite verses from the book of Job is found in chapter 42.

After all Job endured he came to this revelation;

"My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you."

I believe it through all the hardships we endure we gain insight to who God really is.

Many don't want to fellowship with the sufferings of Christ.


Tami Boesiger said...

I need to be continually reminded that God is GOD and OWES ME NOTHING! I thank Him for being so forgiving of my blindness.

Your post makes me think, "Who am I?"

Nothing without His divine touch.

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