Sufferings of Job
A summary of the book of Job
Job was a righteous man in God’s eyes. The Bible says that he was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” Yet, God permitted Satan to come against Job to test Job’s faith. In one day Job lost most all his servants, his animals, and all his sons and daughters. So, Job grieved their loss, then he fell to the ground and worshiped God. He said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
The Bible then says that, in all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. But, then God permitted Satan to attack Job’s body, yet he had to spare Job’s life. So, Satan afflicted Job with terrible sores from head to foot. His wife tried to get him to curse God and die. Yet, in all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Then, his friends came to sympathize with him and to comfort him, though for seven days no one said a word. Then, Job began to speak, and then he began to complain about his suffering.
But, Job’s friends were of no help to him at all. In fact, they believed that Job was suffering because he had done something wrong. As a result, they repetitively encouraged Job to admit his wrong, i.e. to repent of his sins, so that he would once again have God’s blessings. Yet, Job had done nothing wrong. He did nothing to deserve his suffering. He was a righteous man.
Yet, through his suffering it revealed that Job had an issue with pride, so God had a conversation with him about it, to which Job responded by repenting of his sin in dust and ashes (Job 38-42).
God then rebuked Job’s friends because they did not speak of God what was right, as his servant Job had. The Lord then had them go to Job to ask him to pray for them to God for forgiveness. The Lord then accepted Job’s prayer and did not deal with Job’s friends according to their folly. Then God blessed Job by giving him twice as much as he had given him before.
Job 23:8-12 ESV
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
and backward, but I do not perceive him;
on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.”
Sometimes, when we are going through times of great suffering, and we are overwhelmed by it all, we may have difficulty connecting with God. It is not that God is absent, but that for some reason we feel disconnected from him.
It may be that we are grappling to understand it all, and how God could allow this to happen to us. We may also be dealing with our own misconceptions of who God is and concerning why bad things seem to happen to good people, or even why those who are evil seem to live relatively at ease. And, as well, we may have other voices speaking to us, and condemning us, when clearly we have done no wrong. Or, they may be assuming that it is our fault that these bad things have come our way.
Truly some people are quick to condemn or to assign blame, perhaps thinking they are being helpful when they are not. Or, they may judge us by themselves. They may assume that we are like them. Because they know what their hearts and attitudes were like in any given situation, if they think we are in a similar situation as they were, they may be too quick to assume that we are doing what they did, or that we have the same attitudes that they had.
If this is where we find ourselves, it is not wrong to examine our own hearts before God, to inquire of the Lord if what these people are saying has any truth to it. If the Lord then assures our hearts, and he does not condemn us, then it is acceptable to state with confidence that we know we have done no evil. Paul did this frequently, so he serves as an example for us.
Yet, we must guard against pride and against denial, too. Pride can sometimes convince us we are innocent when truly we are guilty, so we have to humble ourselves before the Lord, open our hearts to him, and be willing to be corrected by him if we have truly done wrong.
Job 23:13-17 ESV
“But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does.
For he will complete what he appoints for me,
and many such things are in his mind.
Therefore I am terrified at his presence;
when I consider, I am in dread of him.
God has made my heart faint;
the Almighty has terrified me;
yet I am not silenced because of the darkness,
nor because thick darkness covers my face.”
It is clear throughout the book of Job that these things happened to Job because God allowed them to take place, and for God’s purposes, and for his glory to be revealed in and through Job’s life. God proved that he could take his servants through great suffering and that they could endure the test, and that through their suffering they could grow in their faith and come out stronger than they were before. Through Job’s suffering, the Lord purified his heart even more than he had been pure before.
But, it wasn’t just that God allowed these trials in Job’s life, but that God purposed and planned for this to take place in Job’s life. God is the one who initiated the conversation with Satan. God is the one who presented his servant Job to Satan and who told Satan of Job’s righteous character. And, it was God who handed Job over to Satan to let him inflict him in order to try his faith. And, it is clear that Job recognized the hand of God in his suffering and that he knew this came from God.
How should we respond?
Yet, God maintains absolute control. Nothing can happen to us but that God allows or causes it to happen and for his purposes, for his glory, according to his will, and for our ultimate good. The Bible speaks much of trials and tribulations and sufferings, that they are intended by God in our lives to strengthen us in our faith, to mature us in our walks with the Lord, to teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves, and so that we can comfort others in their suffering, and so we may share in his holiness, and more.
So, what should our response be to times of great suffering, difficulties, trials and tests of our faith? We should go before the throne of grace to find help from him. We should inquire of God as to what he wants to teach us through our trials. We should confess any known sins to God, and turn away from them. And, we should ask him to reveal any hidden sins in our hearts, too, that we might repent of those, as well. I believe we should also ask specifically if there is anything in our lives hindering our walks of faith, and then we must be willing to get rid of all those hindrances.
The Lord may also want to use our trials in other people’s lives, as they witness how we respond to our troubles, for God may want to teach them something, too, through our sufferings, like he did with Job’s friends. In other words, what we go through may not be for us alone, but God may have much greater and far-reaching purposes for what we go through than we can possibly imagine.
So, when we have prayed, and we are clear before our Lord concerning our own hearts, then we need to pray and ask God what he wants us to do. For one, since God is allowing Satan to attack us in some way, we need to put on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us.
This may involve confronting lies, standing up for truth, and making hard choices in order to make certain we are combatting Satan’s attempts against us to try to defeat us. And, this may involve us being hated, rejected, persecuted, strongly opposed, and gossiped about, etc., in return. Yet, we must do what is right in God’s eyes, even if humans desert us or mistreat us. For God has a plan and a purpose for it all.
Then we must rest in him, trusting him to accomplish his purposes through it all for his glory. And, we must rely on his strength, power and wisdom, keep listening for God’s direction, and then just follow in his footsteps.
It Is Well with My Soul
H. G. Spafford / P. P. Bliss
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well; it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well; it is well with my soul.
Friday, March 2, 2018, 6:11 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from Your Word today.