I listened to a wonderful podcast called Earbender by my friend Alexi Muzik yesterday where Rozette, a successful Pop Vocal Coach on Tiktok and InstaGram, described at the end of the interview her “one great story”. It was such an inspiring story full of doors flinging open unexpectedly and other people playing a crucial part in her growth and development as an artist. I commented that “I love when doors open for sweet people by the generosity of others around them — not only by their own talent. It helps build a humility that is so necessary in order to even begin trying to handle true success or fame.”
Success, fame and honor has another side to it that can be just as devastating to a life as loss. Just look at the number of lives destroyed by “easy come easy go” riches, success and fame. Look at the number of sports stars who can thrive on the field of competition, but whose personal lives are destroyed by what grows out of their success. Look at the number of celebrities who find themselves even more lonely, trapped, isolated and depressed even while their fame has them “on to of the world”.
But imagine the crash, to fall from the top of a building versus from the top of a few steps!
The contrast in the chapters of Job 27 and Job 28 should be humbling to any of us who have experienced success, favor, honor or fame in our lives. Chapter 27 talks about how it feels to live a life kissed by the favor of the Lord. While chapter 28 talks about a life darkened by strife, grief and depression.
Those who think that being religious and doing religious things guarantees them only success, honor and fame in this life are utter fools. And many only see religious traditions, theology and dogma as a way of improving their own standing — a narcissistic means of self worship (with God as a supporting cast in their own hero story). This is not worship or faith, but is hypocrisy, self righteousness, sin.
Even those who have truly humbled themselves before God, who know Him and walk with Him, and who are anointed by the Holy Spirit of the Living God are not immune to suffering, grief, loss, oppression, and trials in this life. In fact, Jesus tells the believer to redirect these things.
This verse in chapter 28 sticks out for me:
I live in terror now. My honor has blown away in the wind, and my prosperity has vanished like a cloud.
Job 30:15 NLT
This verse isn’t a statement from before Job ever walked in the favor of God. It isn’t like all was bad before Job made a decision for God and then all was wonderful afterwards — just like God wasn’t only angry and vengeful before the cross and isn’t only peace love and happiness after the cross — and just like our lives aren’t going to be all health, wealth and prosperity once we start “giving money to the preacher man”.
No doubt, there is so much that is gained in a life lived drawing close to the Lord. And the favor and blessing of the Lord is very real. But there is also a cost, and that cost is wonderful. Because that cost refutes the enemies claims that we love God only because He is good to us.
God is indeed very good to us. But only loving or hating Him for whether He is good or bad to us is very shallow, and isn’t about Him but is about us. Going through a season where we are hurting and God doesn’t “fix it” to what we want just because we pray over and over for it in various ways as we try to make sense of things like sickness, suffering, injustice, etc. — it stretches our faith to break through the ground and display the sapling to the world around us of a very real and peculiar faith. And it happens again when a new layer of bark is added. And again when a new branch springs forth. And again when bloom and fruit come forth.
We don’t have to pretend that everything is good if it isn’t. We don’t have to stick it up and take it until we make it. We don’t have to be in the height of our one greatest story to be content and at peace. We don’t even have to be strong.
Wherever we are today, I hope that humility will accompany us through the mountaintops and that peace will accompany us through the valley. And that even in our darkest and weakest hour, we might speak our piece, cry out to God, and then be quiet — for the glory of God. Amen.
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