Each evening, before bedtime, my wife and I sit in our living room across from each other, and we take turns reading aloud the Word of God. Our goal is to complete the entire bible by year’s end, and we are well over half way through our commitment. A few days ago, we finished the book of Job, as part of our journey through the bible. It might seem strange, but Job is my favorite book of the Old Testament, apart from the Psalms. I’ve read it many times in my life as a follower of Jesus. Each time, I come away from the experience with a new or different insight into the character of God, and the nature of man.
This time, as my wife and I read of the life and challenges of this man, Job, I was struck by something that I knew I needed to give additional pause and thought to. It revolved around something Job said, himself. In Job chapter 23, the New Living Translation says that Job noticed something. In trying to understand what had happened to him, and in particular, what God’s part was in all the devastation that had visited his life, he made this comment:
He said, “I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed. But he knows where I am going . . . Once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny” (Job 23:9-10, 13-14 NLT)
That last sentence of Job 23 is the one that caught my attention: ‘So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.” That word, ‘destiny’ has lots of implications, I think. Most of the time, when we hear that word being used, it’s in connection with someone who is ‘destined for greatness.’ The dictionary says that ‘destiny’ is that hidden power that is believed to control what will happen in the future; fate. I love the fact that Job understood perfectly the imperfection of that definition.
Oh, he knew all about the ‘hidden power’ part of destiny. He said, I didn’t see God in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed.’ For a certainty, you might say the ‘uncertainty’ in Job’s life was perfectly clear to him. Job had no clue how all of his challenges were going to be managed or resolved. He only knew that the God he could not see with his eyes was in control.
The psalmists knew that, too. Psalm 115 has some interesting insights about the condition of this chaotic world we live in.
1 Not to us, Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.
2 Why do the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him.
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
4 For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own,
Israel to be his treasured possession.
5 I know that the Lord is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.
6 The Lord does whatever pleases him,
in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths.
There is no question. God did not ‘cause’ the calamity that assaulted Job’s life. But He allowed it, as part of a bigger plan. The reality that Job comes to is a truth I would do well to embrace, every day of my life, every moment that I live: God is in control. His will cannot be compromised by the enemy of our lives. For a certainty, like Job of old, there are moments when I look to north and I cannot in all the world imagine what is happening. Looking to the south, looking for ways to make sense of His ways. But in the final analysis, alas, his ways are not like my ways. His plan is nothing like I would have planned. His hidden plan was never meant to be found out. His plan for my life is meant to be ‘lived out.’
And the difference between what I might plan and God’s hidden plan? Two words. God’s plan is ‘Infinitely Better.’