Suffering and Triumph - Part 2  

"Struck down, but not destroyed"

 By Berit Kjos - January 31, 2010

"As your days, so shall your strength be."

Deuteronomy 33:25

See Part 1







Born in 1867, Amy Carmichael determined early to follow God -- no matter the cost. She brought His love to hundreds of women in the slums of Ireland then shared the gospel in Japan until her health broke down. Finally God led her to southern India, where she taught a small team of faithful Indian women. Riding in a bumpy oxcart, they braved unthinkable dangers as they told about Jesus in village after village.

One hot, humid day a terrified little girl ran toward Amy and flung herself into her arms. She had been given to the local Hindu temple as a "bride" to the Hindu gods -- a well-guarded temple prostitute taught to serve the demands of male worshippers. Her escape was truly a miracle!

From that day on, Amy knew her God-given mission. She saved hundreds of girls from similar horrors, and through decades, she would be Amma (mother) to almost a thousand children. As they grew into adulthood, many continued to serve and teach the little ones with their Amma. Whenever they needed food, clothes, protection, and space for more nurseries and schools, Amy's growing "family" would pray. And God would provide in amazing ways!

In her prayers one morning in 1931, Amy asked, "Do anything, Lord, that will fit me to serve Thee and help my beloveds (her precious 'children')." That same day, as Amy was checking on some much-needed property God was adding to their expanding home, she fell into a hole, broke her leg, and twisted her spine. Medical care was minimal in those days, and for the next twenty years -- until her death -- she was a bedridden invalid in almost constant pain.

But, oh, what a joy she was to those who loved her! Her "children" of all ages now had continual access to their beloved Amma. What's more, God gave her time to write books and poems that have encouraged His people around the world! Here is one of my favorites:

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?

Wounds and scars?  The faithful Job would soon have plenty of both! In Chapter 2 we find him alone, lying on a heap of ashes, his tormented body gripped with pain, covered from head to toe with agonizing wounds -- bleeding, throbbing and aching! 

He has lost his children, his home, his livelihood as well as the respect of the world around him. Where are his numerous friends now? Who will encourage and comfort him in his grief?

Remember, Job was not an ordinary man. Our Lord had declared him "a blameless and upright man!" What's more, he "was the greatest of all the people of the East." How could someone so high fall so low?

God doesn't answer these questions here. But by the last chapter of this timely "Book of Job," we will understand far more about God's unfathomable wisdom and sovereignty. Meanwhile, ponder this second exchange between our holy God and the devious leader of the unholy angels:

"Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, 'From where do you come?'

"Satan answered the Lord and said, 'From going to and fro on the earth....'" Job 2:2-3

God knew well the answer to His question. Satan was always looking about for an "opportune time" to tempt God's people. Seeing God's protective "hedge" around Job, "the evil one" had left his victim alone. And when he did, Job passed the test! God knew he would!

But now Job faces an even harder test -- one that would demand long-term endurance of criticism and condemnation along with the excruciating pain:

"Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”'

"So Satan answered the Lord and said, 'Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”'

"And the Lord said to Satan, 'Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.'”

"So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes." Job 2:3-8

What a simple task for Satan! After all, he understood human nature -- its wants, weaknesses, cravings, etc. In the beginning, his clever dialectical deception had led to man's disastrous rebellion against God. Eve hardly hesitated when he offered the forbidden fruit. Now, with his arsenal of lies, lures, pain and pleasure, it shouldn't take long to incite Job to "curse God." Like most people, Job would surely yield to his corrupt human nature and follow his self-focused feelings. Wouldn't he?

What Satan didn't understand was the work of God's Spirit in the heart of a faithful man. While the deceiver fought to turn human hearts away from God, our sovereign King answers the cries and prayers of those who trust Him. As Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth,

"... we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh." 2 Corinthians 4:7-11

Job will indeed be "hard pressed but not crushed... struck down but not destroyed." Though he doesn't know it, God intends to demonstrate His mighty power working through this weak and battered human vessel. For just as His light shines most brightly in utter darkness, so is His victory far more astounding when His defenseless servant is facing the world's overwhelming odds.

Now, in the second stage of Satan's invisible war on Job's faith, we meet his first visible human instrument -- the person we might expect to be closest to Job:

"Then his wife said to him, 'Do you still hold fast to your integrity? 'Curse God and die!' 

"But he said to her, 'You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?' In all this Job did not sin with his lips. " Job 2:9-10

No mercy or comfort here! Yet Job remains faithful to His Lord!

In the end, it's God's name and honor that is at stake, not Job's. But our sovereign Lord sees right into Job's heart! Putting him to the test, He demonstrates to his arch enemy -- and to future witnesses like us -- something Satan refuses to believe: That no matter how excruciating the assault, Job will not curse or deny his Lord!

We, too, may face such a test one day!  Countless multitudes of faithful Christians have willingly given their all because they loved God most of all. They knew that -- for those who trust in God and put Him first -- the gate of death would only lead to the heavenly glory that could not even compare to the pleasures of earth.

Will we let Him use us for His eternal purpose? Can we like Jesus say, "Not my will but Thine..."?  Here is Amy Carmichael's answer:

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified)
From all that dims Thy Calvary
O Lamb of God, deliver me.


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