I hate that phrase. “Down but not out.” Not entirely— but when you are down and you hear that phrase it just feels a bit snobby and unnecessary to be told. Of course, everyone has their own feelings on this phrase as either optimists or pessimists, but I think my views just varies depending on whether I am on the UP or DOWN— which makes me sound PSYCHOTIC.
I mean— how contradicting can you be?
Optimism is easy for me to express, the world is my oyster and there is so much more to learn and take part of. But when you catch me crashing and burning at the lowest of my low, gosh, it is really hard to focus on what the next good thing could be. It just is.
Take Job for example. Job was blessed abundantly by God through his livestock, family, servants, and possessions which multiplied through his years, but not only this—Job’s goodness is what separated him from everyone else. God even boasts to Satan about Job and his goodness which leads Satan to challenge God. Satan challenges God that if he was given permission to punish and take everything away from Job, Job would turn around and curse God. God accepts this challenge and allows Satan to torment Job without taking his life away in the process.
And in ONE day. Satan takes everything away from Job. Everything. His family, his property, his possessions, and even his health. It does not get much worse than this. Even his wife—who is still around—comes up to Job and tells him “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” It does not get worse than this. It just doesn’t.
And yet he says—
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’
In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”Job 1: 21b-22, ESV
Now— in this moment, I know myself well enough that initially I would be kind of upset with God. Eventually, I would move past that mopey stage but I would for sure say something unkind and possibly blame this on God as a first reaction. And then after cooling down for a bit (probably longer than “a bit”) I would be able to sit, pray, and have a heart to heart with God.
But Job does not do that. He immediately points to the Lord and seeks Him while he is down and most definitely almost out.
We live in such a drastically different world than we did those thousands of years ago. I am sure that if Satan challenged this again it would look just a bit different quite possibly. (I don’t know, I’m not Satan). What if I was the subject of this challenge? You?
What if I was Job tomorrow? Would my lips still hold the praise of God?
I think that is an important question we need to ask ourselves today as modern day believers in Jesus. Because it really could happen at any point.
If your answer is no, what can you do to make sure that your lips still do hold the praise of God? I’m sure it would start with creating new habits and sticking with them. For example: Job would offer burnt offerings to God not just for himself but for each of his children, just in case they had sinned and cursed God in their hearts, and Job would do this continually.
I mean— who does that? We should. Maybe not burnt offerings, but spiritual disciplines and practices that ring the truth that Jesus is Lord, the giver of grace. Because with these tools and disciplines we would be empowered to recognize that Jesus is King over all even in the midst of the bad.
So, tonight I am definitely preaching to myself. Today did not have the best ending, but I know that in the end, that is not the way it has to be. Yeah, the phrase “down but not out” may not be my favorite phrase, but it is true. I am not out, in fact, I never will be. Because it is by the love and grace of God, that I will be lifted on wings like eagles. As will you.