Job's stages of Faith
Faith(Trust) in God is the first vital element in entering into the Psalm 23 Life without lack. In the last post we looked at faith(trust) as a reliance on God that involves an inner attitude and outward actions. We looked at a simple process for growing in our reliance on God in our real everyday lives. This is vital - trust is not just for getting to heaven when we die it is for life now.
It is trust that puts you in contact with God so you can draw upon his unlimited and inexhaustible resources. Unfortunately, many folks have their faith lined up in such a way that they do not need to rely on God. They do not need to trust God. They have a proper faith in terms of what they need to believe to go to heaven when they die, but they hope that God is never going to put them in a position of needing to actually trust him before they go there. (Life without Lack Chapter 5)
In Chapter 5 of Life without Lack, Dallas Willard looks at the story of Job and unpacks how Job’s faith develops through his experiences. Dallas does it wonderfully and I highly recommend you read the chapter several times. Here are some quotes that introduces three stages of Job’s faith development:
One of the finest examples of transformation of faith that leads to a life without lack is seen in the life of the ancient figure Job. When we first meet Job, he is a fine fellow who is doing quite well in his life.
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East. (Job 1: 1–3)
That is a ringing endorsement of a good and great man who was enjoying the blessings and approval of God. He was, we can be certain, a man of faith. But Job went through a deep transformation in his understanding and relationship to God. It is important to recognize that Job maintained his faith throughout his excruciatingly difficult trials, yet that faith was transformed.
Job’s journey of faith moved from ritual to relationship. He began with what we may call the faith of propriety, moved through the faith of desperation, and finally arrived at the faith of sufficiency—the faith that says, regardless of what happens, “It doesn’t matter. I have God, and that is all I need.” We can learn much from Job’s journey through the maturing of his faith as we move forward in our own.
Before looking at each of these three kinds of faith, keep in mind that I am not devaluing any of them, and I am not saying that there is something wrong with you if you are not at the third stage yet. One thing we must always keep in mind is that faith is a gift from God, and we need to understand both its nature and how God transforms it. True, sometimes the way it is given can be a little rough, and the path difficult. Nonetheless, faith is a gift.
The Faith of Propriety
...Job trusted God to be good to him if he lived a proper and upright life. He had obviously heard that if you do good things, God would be pleased and would provide for and protect you....
....His faith, as sincere and genuine and good as it was, was mixed with great fear. Why? Because he was trusting in his own propriety rather than trusting in God.
The Faith of Desperation:
....The faith of desperation—trusting faith—digs in, holds on, clings tight, and says, “I don’t care what’s going to happen, I am holding on to God!”....
....Often God allows us to reach the point of desperation so we can learn how to trust. It is a hard lesson, but an essential one. The life without lack is known by those who have learned how to trust God in the moment of their need. In the moment of need. Not before the moment of need, not after the moment of need when the storm has passed, but in the moment of need.....
The Faith of Sufficiency
...when you have nowhere else to turn except to God, and you turn to him, your faith of desperation will meet the fullness of God, and you will taste the life without lack as you discover the depths of the faith of sufficiency.
...We must live through things like Job did, and become desperate as Job was. What made the difference for Job was that he hung in there and his faith of desperation carried him to the point where God showed up and Job could say, “I’ve heard about you, but now I’ve seen you.” It was an undeniable experience of God, and it changed his life. His vision of God was now so great that he realized what had happened to him didn’t matter. That is the deep faith of sufficiency....
...This is why we need to live in clear view of the cross. When we look at what Christ did for us on the cross and keep that at the center of our vision, there are not many things that will bother us, or even matter at all. When we realize that Christ went willingly to the cross on our behalf, trusting in the greatness of his Father, it casts a transformative light on our own sufferings. That’s what Job saw. Job beheld the greatness of God.....
You or someone you know might be in the middle of an intense trial of faith. I hope this brief overview of Job’s journey gives you hope that there is some way through and that afterwards there is the possibility of having a transformed faith.
A final thought: a reminder from what Dallas said above - "keep in mind that I am not devaluing any of them (stages of faith), and I am not saying that there is something wrong with you if you are not at the third stage yet. One thing we must always keep in mind is that faith is a gift from God"