When Job loses everything but his wife and his life, and his friends “comfort” him with their convictions as to why it must be happening (see “Why Would God…”), I think they are just trying to make sense of his tragedy. Sometimes God does or allows things that shake the foundations of what we believe; nothing makes sense according to what we want to be true about Him, and we feel just like Job’s friends: “They are disappointed because they were confident; they come there and are confused” (Job 6:20).
We don’t and can’t know the thoughts of God, nor can we know His ways. He tells us Himself in Isaiah 55:8-9, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
While we may never have an exact answer for “Why?”, scripture does offer a number of possibilities that can help us draw closer to the Lord, trusting Him completely even if our world appears to be falling apart, as Job’s did. I do not offer this as an exhaustive list, but a place to start. A way to recognize that sometimes our suffering is because of our rebellion against God in some way, shape, or form, or He could be molding us to be more like Jesus for the work He wants to accomplish in and through us, or maybe it has nothing to do with us at all.
Like Job, we should first look within and to Jesus and ask: “How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin” (Job 13:23). We can trust Him to show us, and when He does, we need to repent, turn to God, and everything we do from that point forward needs to reflect that repentance (Acts 26:20).
God may be using trials to chasten us –training, educating, and correcting us for our benefit, that we may be partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 12:5-10).
It could be that He is treating us like His own Son, Jesus, who learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8), or he may be testing us, as He did the Israelites to see if they would walk in His ways (Exodus 16:4), that His fear may be before us that we may not sin (Exodus 20:20), to know what’s in our hearts (Deuteronomy 8:2), to do us good in the end (Deuteronomy 8:16), or to “test each one’s work, of what sort it is” (I Corinthians 3:13).
Perhaps “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation,” wants us to experience His comfort in a particular circumstance “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
It may even be to bring about our or another’s salvation. “Behold, God works all these things…to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life” (Job 33:29-30).
In Job’s case, it was actually his righteousness and faithfulness that put him at center stage for a duel between God and Satan. In Job 1:8, the Lord asks Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” Satan insists anyone would be blameless and upright if God had blessed Him the way He had blessed Job, and challenges God, “But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (verse 11).
The LORD gives Satan permission: “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” That’s the day Job loses all his children, possessions, and servants, but “in all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:22), which leads to a second similar conversation between God and Satan.
The Lord asks Satan again, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3). Satan retorts, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (verses 4-5).The Lord answers, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life” (verse 6).
That’s the day “Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7).
Job’s reward for remaining faithful to the Lord even after losing everything dear to him was to lose his health too!
How many of us are willing to suffer for God’s cause to the point of losing everything?
What can we learn from Job’s response? Join me again Thursday?
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