Has anyone read this man’s story and not been moved in many ways – sympathy, horror, wrath, confusion, anger at God? What lessons could anyone learn from a man who had everything – his family, his wealth, his health, his joy, ripped from him in a totally undeserved way?
It excites my sympathy, yes, and it riles my indignation. If it were isolated to one man, we could perhaps rationalize it, but this has happened throughout time, to many humans of all ages and nations, and it continues to happen to this day.
Does God really care about us individually as a people, or do our lives chug along with nothing but what only total randomness can explain? I see my life, and the lives of a few around me. I hear of several in the news – but I don’t hear of everyone on earth, nor do I know their situation minutely. Therefore, I see a limited picture.
God is often more interested in the bigger picture, the ultimate results, rather than the immediate picture.
We see what time and place limit us to.
Frequently, our concept of ‘the big picture’ is not God’s idea. He sees with a far reaching, time eclipsing scope, whereas we mostly see the ‘here and now’. Although no reasonable human would wish that kind of misery on another, Job’s situation, his suffering, and the process through which he came into triumph, has proven to be a timeless lesson – studied, related to, and comforting millions of people through the ages. This would never had happened had he simply lived an ‘ordinary’ life
Because we tend to overlook the everyday, the mundane. What makes the media so important? The extreme, the out-of-ordinary, the exciting, the horrifying. When does everyday routine grab your interest?
We want to hear and understand why these things happen so we can ultimately protect ourselves and our own from harm.
Why do you think there is trepidation when mothers hear their daughters are attending a university just across the road from where Paul Bernardo is incarcerated? We want to know, are we secure? Who is in control here?
Job’s story shows us that God, not Satan, is in ultimate control. How often do we think that the enemy has a hold on us? He only has a hold on us if we have given him legal right by sinning. Other than that, he has no power, as is clearly shown in Job’s situation. God delighted in Job’s righteousness. He was reluctant to harm Job, and Satan could only watch, powerless to attack until God gave permission.
My logic and mercy wouldn’t have allowed this, but God in His eternal wisdom saw that many more lives would be helped by relating to Job’s story. He also showed a picture of redemption, as Job was not left in this pitiable state forever. God compensated him richly for all the suffering he had endured. As Jesus redeems us from hell, so Job was also redeemed from his agony by God’s mercy.
God also showed a picture of the beauty of forgiveness in Job chapter 42. When Job repented of his pride and hardness of heart, and states his newfound knowledge of God’s greatness and power, God begins an amazing process of restoration.
First, He acknowledges that Job’s “friends” (with friends like this, even a starved, half-crazed hyena can be your bosom buddy…) have sinned greatly against Him.
Then, when Job – who had every human right to be vindictive – prayed for his three friends, God honoured him with twice the possessions he had previously.
Job’s brothers and sisters came and consoled him, and blessed him with material wealth of silver and gold. He also had ten more children, seven sons and three daughters. His daughters were the most beautiful women in the land, and Job was further blessed with one hundred and forty more years of life, and the delight of seeing his children and grandchildren to the fourth generation.
We could still mourn and say, “What about the ones he lost? What did they do to deserve such a death?
They didn’t do anything wrong that we are told about, but we also learn through reading scripture that death has no fear for those who die in the Lord. They go to a place of rest and reward. In a sense, we need to re-think our notion of death, and realize that God holds our present and future very carefully in His awareness, both in this world and in the world to come.
What about Job and his wife? Didn’t they still mourn terribly for their children?
Of course they did, and what could we gain from this misery?
I gain this, that there is a time for every one to die, be it of natural causes, or untimely death. We hold a dread of death because we often misunderstand it’s meaning. God says that it is precious in His sight when His people die. (Psalm 116:15)
Ecclesiastes 7:1 mentions that the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. Why? Because ear hasn’t heard and eye hasn’t seen the things God has prepared for them that love Him. ( I Cor. 2:9)
He will swallow up death in victory, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces… (Is. 25:8)
However, He is not some sort of sadist who enjoys watching His people die. “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies says the Lord GOD: therefore reverse your ways and live”. (Eze. 18:32 )
We know that death is also a symbolism for sin and it’s results. Although God was fully able to raise from the dead, and He could have raised Job’s children back to life, He chose not to. He chose to let the suffering have it’s perfect work in Job.
James 1:2-4 shows us that trials and suffering produce worthwhile fruit:
‘Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.’
Romans 5:3-5 …We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance: and perseverance character, and character, hope. Now hope doesn’t disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
God wants to show us that even though grief and sadness happen in life, it is not to produce misery forever, but when our ways are pleasing to Him, there is always hope, always growth, and a way through to happiness again. There is always abundance and rescue because of His tremendous love for us.
A few more scriptures that show these principles:
Rom 5:21 That as sin has reigned unto death, even, so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him.
Rom 8:38, 39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
Rev 1:18 I [ Jesus] am He that lives and was dead, and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things have passed away.
And so God blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning ( Job 42:12)
He will also bless His people that love Him and live according to His ways.
He does not promise to always prevent our suffering, but He always promises to bring good from it.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those that are the called according to His purpose.
Would I now wish Job’s life on anyone? No. I’m still human, and I still ache to think of that kind of pain, but it does give me faith that God has much more understanding and wisdom, power and control over life’s circumstances than I do.
I can choose to turn from God and believe that I know a better way. However, we humans seem to have a dismal track record when it comes to doing things our own way, and God seems to have a stellar record of blessing and prosperity when we have faith in Him, and do things His way.
So, in spite of my human questions – and I continue to ask them! – I choose to believe God’s way remains the best.