“Ye have heard of the patience of Job” (Js 5:11), so I will not take the time to describe all that he had gone through. We know that in one day he lost all of his children and wealth. Then, he was struck with boils, and even his own wife broke down and told him to curse God and die. Sitting in the ashes, scraping his boils with a piece of broken pottery, listening to the baseless and insulting accusations of his friends, Job said, “My purposes are broken off.”
All of Job’s plans seemed shattered. The broken shard of pottery may have reminded him of his broken life. No doubt, he had long entertained many dreams for his children. As a father, I look forward to my children’s High School and college graduations, weddings, and grandchildren. We have raised them with a purpose in mind. ALL of Job’s children were suddenly killed – and his dreams for each died with them. Job’s financial purposes were broken off. His security vanished in a day. It seemed that everything Job had worked for, all the great purposes of his long life, were broken off.
When I was in college, we were required to memorize Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, “IF.” This was J. Frank Norris’ favorite poem and he often quoted it during his preaching, especially during tough times. Though I can’t quote the entire poem today, one stanza often stands out in my memory:
If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same;If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spokenTwisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
Christians ought to live their lives with purpose. We ought to live with goals in mind. We ought to build, and hope, and dream, and strive forward. Parents should have purpose. Raise your children with definite, God-honoring goals in mind. Pastors should have purpose. Teachers should have purpose. Businessmen should have purpose. Missionaries should have purpose.
But, when those purposes are broken off, when the things you’ve given your life to are broken, you’ve got to take your old worn-out tools and build again.
Paul started churches that, in the end, would not even acknowledge him (2 Tim. 1:15). He trained men who abandoned him for the world (Demas and others). His own converts declared that he was a false apostle and a heretic (see Galatians and parts of 2 Corinthians).Yet Paul did not stop pressing toward the mark. His purposes were broken – but not his purpose in life. Job’s purposes were broken, but not his faith in God.
Have your purposes been broken? Your plans have not come out the way that you hoped? Have the things you have given your life to been broken? It’s time to stoop and build them again with worn out tools.
Thank you for reading. God bless.
PS: Here is the entire poem, “IF,” if you have never read it, or need to read it again:
BY RUDYARD KIPLINGIf you can keep your head when all about youAre losing theirs and blaming it on you,If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,But make allowance for their doubting too;If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same;If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spokenTwisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:If you can make one heap of all your winningsAnd risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,And lose, and start again at your beginningsAnd never breathe a word about your loss;If you can force your heart and nerve and sinewTo serve your turn long after they are gone,And so hold on when there is nothing in youExcept the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,If all men count with you, but none too much;If you can fill the unforgiving minuteWith sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!