The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil. (Proverbs 19:23)
The fear of the Lord, in other words, a healthy reverence for the Lord tends to life, and this is not simply survival. It is life in abundance, a life that thrives even in the midst of adversity. When the writer of this verse says “he shall not be visited with evil,” he does not mean that the person who lives in the fear of the Lord will live life in a protective bubble. Job certainly did not. He suffered all kinds of calamity. So did Joseph. But these men did not suffer evil as a consequence of their sin. The calamities they faced all had a purpose. God brought these things into their lives to grow them.
The example of Job
Job did not see that right away. For a time, he did not abide satisfied in the Lord. He wanted his day in court before God to set the record straight (as he saw it). But in the end, he saw what he really needed to see: the greatness and the goodness of God:
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. (Job 42:5)
The encouragement we can gain from Job is that even though we may not start out seeing the satisfaction that we have in God, we can learn to see it.
The example of Joseph
Joseph never lost sight of the goodness of God. When you look at his life and the hardships he endured, you see a man who always lived satisfied with God and content in his circumstances regardless of what they were. When his brothers sought to earn his favor because they feared his vengeance, Joseph said to them:
(19) …Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
(20) But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
This conversation tells us everything we need to know about Joseph’s heart through all his trials. He trusted that his God was always with him and always wanted the best for him. Even when he did not understand the reasons behind what was happening to him, he always rested in the knowledge that God was sovereign in all things and that in His sovereignty, God would see him through.
The example of Paul
In his words to Timothy, Paul gives counsel to his young preacher boy that completely deflates the prosperity gospel. He exhorts Timothy to avoid…
(5) Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
(6) But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:5-6)
Powerful words from a man, who through his own hardships had “learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11b).
The example of Isaiah
Isaiah had a difficult ministry. From the start, God told him that the people to whom he ministered would have hearts as hard as Pharaoh’s and that he would see almost no results from his preaching. But Isaiah trusted God and ministered on His behalf anyway. According to historians, the prophet was put to death by the evil Jewish king Manasseh who had the prophet sawed in half by a wood saw. Looking at his life, one could argue that Isaiah’s ministry was a tragedy of the highest order, but his ministry lives on in the book of Isaiah. It is a book full of passion and powerful passages, not the least of which is Isaiah 26:3:
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Those are words of contentment, the kind of satisfaction that rises above circumstances and that can only be found in God.
What we can learn from these examples is simple: The day you come to understand that God is more than enough – that His goodness toward us transcends even the worst of our hardships – is the day you are truly satisfied.