Recession | Last week, Bloomberg highlighted the struggles of several wealthy New Yorkers who are struggling in the current economy. One executive said that, since his bonus was lower this year, his $350,000 income could no longer cover their children’s tuition, their summer rental, and their apartment upgrade. “I feel stuck,” he said. “The New York that I wanted to have is still just beyond my reach.” Another executive, who spends $17,000 a year on his dogs, has been forced to “re-examine lots of assumptions about how grand their life would be”.
Reveal | Job was ridiculously wealthy. He was “the greatest of all the people of the east” in his day . He had seven sons, three daughters, thousands of livestock, and many servants. Moreover, he was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned way from evil” . When he lost everything, however, his thoughts about God – thoughts that were dormant during his time of prosperity – were revealed. He said things that assumed his own righteousness: “Let the Almighty answer me!”  and his own correct perspective, “When I hoped for good, evil came” .
Expose | Paul Brand wrote, “The more we let our level of contentment be determined by outside factors – a new car, fashionable clothes, a prestigious career, social status – the more we relinquish control over our own happiness” . Yet how do we know whether our joy is based on outside factors? It’s very often one of two ways – either we give it away or He takes it away. God loves to use tough times to expose our true foundations because He wants us to move our joy from our goods to His grace, our money to His mercy, and our wealth to His worth . And why should we want Him to do this? Because He alone is God. As he interrupted Job, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”  God alone has knowledge, power, sovereignty and wisdom to run the world and our lives. And there’s nothing more precious than knowing that He exerts all that might to do us good .
Prayer | Lord, Pride sits dormant in us during times of prosperity. But we thank you for your gracious work through adversity, exposing the foundations of our hearts and realigning our joy in your unchanging love and victorious grace. Teach us to embrace hardship, as we recognize that you’re doing a massively important work in our souls. Amen.
 Max Abelson. Wall Street Bonus Withdrawal Means Trading Aspen for Cheap Chex. Bloomberg. 29 February 2012. |  Job 1:3 ESV |  Job 1:2-3 |  Job 1:1 ESV |  Job 31:35 ESV |  Job 30:26 ESV |  Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. The Gift of Pain. Zondervan (1993), p. 293. (Dr. Paul Brand is the physician who discovered that leprosy doesn’t eat away at the skin; it is a disease that results in a leper’s having no sensation of pain. Thus, he argues that pain is – in fact – a great thing because it is a warning sign. The chapter from which this quotation is taken is entitled, “Pleasure and Pain,” and it has a challenging perspective on the Western ideal of a pain-free existence. Again, I have mentioned this book in the past few weeks many times. I cannot more highly recommend it. If you haven’t yet suffered, prepare for it now by reading this book and reflecting on its truth. If you’re currently suffering or have already suffered, you’ll fall in love with this book. (I hope!) |  See John Piper. Sermon: “What’s the Recession For?” 1 February 2009. |  Job 38:1 ESV |  The Bible is FILLED with passages that tell us how much God utterly DELIGHTS to do us good – see Zeph. 3:17; Ps. 147:11; 1 Ptr. 1:6-7; Rom. 2:29; 1 Cor. 4:5; Ps. 18:19; Ps. 147:11; Ps. 149:4; Rom. 8:31-19 … the list goes on and on. |  This reflection is dedicated to my parents, who constantly took the opportunity to show me that their treasure was not in worldly goods – both by giving away so much to so many and by joyfully experiencing times of struggle when things were taken away.