"Choices, Choices"  (March 2005)

   Recently, I was asked to be one of the speakers at a Women's Conference.  Each speaker was asked to pick a woman from the Bible that she could most identify with because she has at some point in her life also walked in the shoes of the woman from the Bible.  As I thought about which woman I could most identify with, the thought of a man came to mind instead-- Job.  Having gone through several trials I felt like I was pretty acquainted with Job, but since he was a man instead of a woman that wouldn't do.  The more I thought about Job and my past experiences, I began to realize that I identified, to a degree, with Job's wife.  In Job's story we always put the focus on Job.  Granted, he was the one who was being "physically" attacked during the trial, but his wife went through much suffering as well as a direct result of what he was going through. Job wasn't the only one who lost his children, they were her children too.  "While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee." (Job 1:18,19) She lost the children that she had carried for nine months and gave birth to, that she had taught to feed themselves and walk, the children that she had watched grow into adults, the children that would one day bear grandchildren for her to enjoy in her old age- they were gone, everyone of them dead.  The family business was gone also, wiped out.  Her livelihood was gone- her grocery money, money for a new dress, money to decorate the house- no income or resources.  On top of that, she had to watch her husband suffer from a horrible disease.  "So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown." (Job 2:7) Day after day she would watch him in agony go through treatments to try to heal his body which did no good.  "And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes." (Job 2:8) She had to stand by and watch as her husband slipped into depression, complaining, and despair.  "After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.  And Job spake, and said,  Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.  Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.  Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it." (Job 3:1-5) Plus she had house guests who came to comfort her husband but wound up accusing him instead.  "Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him." (Job 2:11)  Job's wife suffered along with her husband because she was going through the trial with him.  (She was in a tunnel herself that seemed to have no light at the end.)

This is where I can relate to Job's wife.  Several years ago I had to watch my husband go through a horrible disease- cancer.  While I was not the one with the disease myself, I did face some trying times because of what he was going through.  After all, since I'm his wife, what affects him affects me.  My livelihood was gone- there was no money for groceries or bills.  While he was going through cancer treatments, I had to watch as they would make him sick and weaker.  He and I both felt the pressure when we almost lost our home.  He felt it in his body, but I felt everything else right along with him. 

   I never thought that Job's wife was a character that I could identify with because I have never said to my husband, "Curse God and die", or anything remotely close to it during any of the trying times we have been through.  While I might not want to be identified with her because of what appears to be her lack of faith in God and lack of encouragement to her husband, the only thing that separates me from her is a "choice".  When I was going through the difficult trials I could have made the same choice she did.  I could have encouraged my husband to curse God and die.  I could have turned my back on God, accused Him of not caring, got angry with Him for not stopping what was happening to us, or rejected Him, but I didn't.  Instead of making a choice to do that, I made the choice to keep loving, serving, and trusting God no matter what was going on in our lives, no matter what was happening around us, even if we lost everything.  I chose to live for God regardless and in spite of the situation.

   We all go through trying situations and we all face temptations; when we do we have to make a choice- "how will I react", "how will I handle it", "how will I go through it"?  Job and his wife both faced a time of great trial and each had to make a choice for themselves.  Job's wife's choice was to encourage her husband to curse God and die.  Job chose to worship God instead.  "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:20,21)

   The Bible is full of examples of people who faced the same kind of temptations, obstacles, and trials that we face.  As we look at their lives we can learn from the way they handled them, and it will help us in making the right choices- choices that please and honor God.  When King David saw Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop he was faced with the temptation to commit adultery with her.  "And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" (2 Samuel 11:2,3)  At that point he had to make a choice- resist the temptation or commit adultery.  We know which choice he made.  "And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house." (2 Samuel 11:4)  As a result of the choice he made Bathsheba became pregnant.  "And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child." (verse 5) Often one bad choice leads to another.  David made another choice to try to cover up his sin.  "And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David. And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered. And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king." (Vv. 6,7,8)  But it didn't work.  "But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house. And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house? And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing." (Vv. 9,10,11)  This caused David to make yet another choice- he had to choose between having his sin exposed and facing the consequences or remove the one thing that would reveal his guilt.  "And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die." (Vv. 14,15)  We know the end of the story, Uriah is killed in battle, David takes Bathsheba for his wife, she has the child, then God sends the prophet Nathan to David to confront him with his sins, and as a result the child dies.  This whole portion of David's life never would have happened if he had made the right choice when he first laid eyes on Bathsheba.  There was only one thing that stood between David and the guilt, shame, dishonor, and pain that he felt- it was a "choice".  If he had made the right choice, he would have been spared all that; he would have enjoyed peace.  We know through hindsight that the right choice would have been to resist the temptation.  But we aren't always afforded the luxury of hindsight when we are in the middle of the temptation.  This is why we have to count on something so much better to help us make the right choice upfront, and that's the word of God.  David didn't need hindsight to know that if he chose to commit adultery it would only wind up being the wrong choice.  The word of God already told him that when it said, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

   Time nor paper permits me to talk about all the other Bible characters who had to make a choice that we can learn from.  Characters such as Abraham who made the choice to leave his father's house; Joseph made the choice to forgive his brothers instead of take revenge on them; Moses made the choice to be identified with the Israelites instead of staying in Pharaoh's house; Rahab made the choice to hide the spies; the three Hebrew children chose not to bow before the golden image; Peter made the choice to follow Christ.  None of the choices they made were easy.  Some of the choices were painful, some took them out of their comfort zones, some put their lives in danger, but nevertheless they made the choice to put God first, to do His will, and to follow His commands.  Each trial we face will tempt us to choose what to do based on our emotions, our surroundings, our feelings.  Putting God first, seeking to do His will, looking to His word to help in the decision will always cause you to make the right choice.  

   Not every choice we make involves the trying times that we experience here on earth.  There is a choice that we have to make that concerns our eternal future.  Where you spend eternity will be determined by the choice that you make.  It was a choice that brought sin into the world in the beginning.  "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." (Genesis 2:7,8,16,17;3:6)  "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Romans 5:19) Adam made the choice to disobey God's command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, therefore, it brought sin upon all mankind.  The way of escape from sin came by a choice also.  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)  "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. John 10:18)  "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." (1 Peter 1:18-21) God made a choice to save mankind from his sin instead of leaving him to die in them.  That choice was manifested in the person of Jesus Christ- the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.  The final choice of whether you will receive eternal life or not is up to you.  "Choose you this day whom ye will serve." (Joshua 24:15) "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." (Deut. 30:19)  "And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word." (1 Kings 18:21) We didn't choose to be born sinners, Adam chose that for us.  But we don't have to remain lost and dying in our sins because God made a choice to provide a way of escape for us.  All that's left for us to do is make the choice to either remain in our sins and receive eternal punishment and separation from God, or make the choice to receive God's free gift of salvation and eternal life that comes through Jesus Christ.

   Our lives are made up of the sum total of choices.  There is no way around having to make choices, some are major and some are minor- who I will marry, how many children I'll have, what job will I work at, what will I have for dinner, what will I wear today?  The choices you make will affect your life.  Some affect the lives of those around you and the outcome of your situation.  Whatever choice you are faced with you can chose to do what is right based on the word of God, or you can chose to do what is wrong based upon the world's view and standards or on the desires of our own flesh.  But the most important choice you have been left with is that of your eternal soul.  What will you choose to do about it?