Some Lessons from the Book of Job
By Wayne Harmon
The Book of Job has always fascinated me. The Almighty God made a bet with the Accuser, Satan. God is the one who pointed Job out to Satan. Why would He do such a thing? The answer lies within the story.
God had no problem with Job’s integrity. He even bragged about Job to Satan. Satan, living up to his title of “Accuser”, said that the only reason Job worshiped God was that God took care of Him
With God’s permission, Satan took away all of Job’s flocks, herds and children, leaving only the four surviving servants who brought him the bad news.
Job’s response was, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!”
God commended Job to Satan at his next appearance in Heaven’s court. Satan said that if he could attack Job’s body, then Job would surely reject God. He was given permission to take Job’s health but not his life. And he did.
Job’s entire body was covered with boils. I can’t begin to imagine what that must have been like. Any pressure on his body must have been agonizing. The only soft place he could find to sit was in a pile of ashes.
Not only would he have been in constant pain, but soon he would be completely exhausted from not being able to sleep.
His wife said, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.”
Job’s response was, “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”
(A lot of preachers have bashed Job’s wife for saying this. I don’t see it that way. She had lost everything along with Job. She was trying to find a way of relief for the man she loved. God never rebuked her. When God restored, even doubled, Job’s fortunes at the end of the story, he restored hers as well, giving her ten more children.)
Job has three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, who hear of his plight and come to visit him. For seven days they give him exactly what he needs: their presence. For seven days they sit with him saying nothing. “For they saw his suffering was too great for words.”
(PERSONAL LESSON: When I have a friend who is going through a difficult time, I need to learn to just be with him. He needs to know he is not as alone as he feels. That’s all he needs.)
After seven days, and this had been going on for some time before the friends showed up, Job can’t keep quiet any longer. He is in pain. He is grieving. He is exhausted.
He gives a long soliloquy wishing he had never been born. That’s understandable. God doesn’t mind when we cry out in our suffering. Even Jesus on the cross cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”
In the next verse Job’s friends do the worst thing possible; they start talking.
(PERSONAL LESSON: When someone is telling me his troubles, he is NOT giving me permission to start talking about when something similar happened to me. He doesn’t want to hear about my car wreck, my broken water heater, my bout with the flu, when my dog died, etc. etc. He just wants someone to listen. I can’t listen and talk at the same time. Sometimes being a friend means shutting up.)
The next twenty-seven chapters are “did so, did not” arguments between Job and his friends.
They say bad stuff only happens when you sin against God.
Job says he knows all that, but he hasn’t sinned against God.
Both Job and his friends see suffering as something bad; something to be avoided. None of them realize that growth comes out of suffering. I believe this why God pointed Job out to Satan.
Job was God’s friend, and as such God wanted to bring Job into an even closer friendship. Only by the “fellowship of His sufferings” could Job move to the next level.
Job’s suffering exposed a motivation for worshiping God that He wanted to correct. In 3:25 Job said, “What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true.”
God is a father. He is THE Father. A father wants his children to respect him, but no father wants his children to be afraid of him. The same is true with God. He was honored that Job loved and respected Him, but He didn’t want Job’s devotion to be based on being afraid NOT to worship God.
In the end God restores Job, giving him double what he had lost. God never did tell Job why he had suffered so horribly, but I think Job was well aware of what he had gained in his relationship with God.
At the end of the story God says to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.”
(IMPORTANT NOTE: Be very, VERY careful when quoting from the Book of Job. You might just be quoting from one of the lies these men told about God.)
When we face suffering let’s remember that sometimes God allows us to suffer in order to draw us closer to Himself.
And sometimes, just maybe, He puts us through things just to win a bet with the devil.
That’s a thought that makes me smile.
Copyright 2014: Wayne Harmon