Faithfulness when Surprised

Author: Eiji Minami


Some church members were discouraged when the proposed disciplinary plan for the North American Division was referred back to committee on October 9 at General Conference 2017 Annual Council. The Executive Committee decision to refer it back to committee was a surprise.

Has God abandoned us because of rebellion in the church? Where was the Holy Spirit during the council? How long, O Lord, will this error trample your Church?

We are reminded of the long suffering of Job. He was in darkness for a long time. Even a brief period of pain feels like forever. It appeared no relief was coming and he seemed to have been abandoned.

Moses wrote both Genesis and the book of Job in the Midian desert. In Genesis he described the beginning of this world under inspiration; how everything was created, how man fell into sin, and how God revealed His plan of redemption to restore. The book of Job describes the battle behind human sight, God working through humans on earth to demonstrate His righteousness once for all to the entire universe. Rebellion will never manifest itself ever again.

God’s intervention in Chapter 38 is dramatic. Job is vindicated before his accusers. Job’s vindication is really the vindication of God Himself. Job’s experience represents God’s people across the ages, especially at time’s end. We will experience trials from within and from without. Seeing God’s truths trampled, trials of false accusations, and watching the adversary appear to flourish can test us, provoke doubt of ourselves and even doubt of God. But we are to have the faith of Job when he cried out, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).

God is still in control. He will accomplish His purpose. He will triumph at last but we must endure a tiny bit longer. God allowed the proposed measures to be held for now. His patience is more longsuffering than ours. God allowed Job’s three friends to continue to speak misrepresentations of Him. And yet His love and sacrifice was for them as much as for Job. In the end God gave them opportunity to repent and they were at the last restored. And turning to 2017, apparently it is not quite time to remove those in open rebellion.

Job’s three friends were overemphasizing the justice of God. In response, Job wanted to speak with God about God’s fairness. After the three senior friends had exhausted their arguments, younger Elihu spoke up. He emphasized how God’s love strengthens our courage in night’s darkest hours (Job 35:10). Elihu tells how God is near, suffering with us when we feel abandoned by Him. He presents the cross of Jesus where justice and mercy kiss each other (Job 33:24).

Young Elihu comes with no academic credential, no degree. In a way, he represents the laity of the church, especially the young, who in the last days proclaim the three angels’ message to the world representing God in the beauty of His character.

We worship the God who gives us songs in the night. It is in the dark night, during the hours of trials and discouragement that we learn how to sing. But our light affliction, which is but for a moment, will work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while we look not at the things which are seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17).

One-hundred-forty-four thousand will sing a new song none can learn but through the trials and tribulations of this world. Thank God for the trials we go through and for His promise that He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able.

In Ellen White’s very first vision she saw the Advent people traveling the narrow path leading to the city. The light coming from the midnight cry shone all along the path.

But soon some grew weary, and said the city was a great way off, and they expected to have entered it before. Then Jesus would encourage them by raising His glorious right arm, and from His arm came a light which waved over the Advent band, and they shouted, ‘Alleluia!’ Others rashly denied the light behind them and said that it was not God that had led them out so far. The light behind them went out, leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and lost sight of the mark and of Jesus, and fell off the path down into the dark and wicked world below (Early Writings, pp. 14-15).

This is our time to endure. This not the time to quit. This is time to pray earnestly for God’s Church and for church leaders, especially for those in error.

Before the consistent lives of Christ’s true followers, ignorance, superstition, and darkness will pass away, as the sun dispels the gloom of night. In like manner the disciples of Jesus will go into the dark places of the earth, disseminating the light of truth until the pathway of those in darkness shall be illuminated by the light of truth (Our High Calling, p. 296).