Job. The story of a man of great prosperity falling into deep poverty. The story of a father to ten children, for whom he prayed continually – to have them killed by a great windstorm. A man that went from highly respected to widely ridiculed. From the picture of health to a man ridden with the filthiest and most painful diseases of his time.
On January 1st, I entered into a plan to read the Bible in one year, chronologically, with a group of women. The first half of this month has been spent in the book of Job. When Satan told God that believers reject God if they lost their prosperity, God takes the upright and blameless man, Job, and asks Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” (1:8). Here is what I’m learning from God, through Job’s story:
- In grief and suffering, we do not need to doubt God’s goodness (2:10). In fact, we should worship Him (1:20).
- Ours is not the task of “figuring out” what God is doing with suffering, ours is the truth that God will work all things for His glory. We have no idea what the scene in heaven is, we could never comprehend the glory that God has in store (28:23-24). “God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. For he looks to the ends of the earth and see everything under the heavens.” (28:23-24)
- There is wisdom in silence when the people we love experience deep grief and suffering (4:6). Job calls his friends “miserable comforters”. We don’t need to try to explain God’s ways, because they are not our ways and His majesty is unsearchable.
- Even in our present sufferings, God’s is good and He is great. It may be reasonable for us to complain, but it is not reasonable to question God’s goodness. (5:9-16, ch. 26, ch. 38, etc.)
- The Old Testament consistently and constantly points us to our deep need for the Savior. “There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both. Let him take his rod away from me, and let not dread of him terrify me. Then I would speak without fear of him, for I am not so in myself.” (9:33-35) “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.” (14:4) “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come.” (14:14)
- God is wise, He is mighty, and He is sovereign. “He is wise in heart and might in strength – who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?… Who does great things beyond searching out, and marvelous things beyond number.” (9:4, 10)
- We should remain faithful to God and our salvation, even amidst false accusations (ch: 22).
- Even when we don’t feel the presence of God, He is there. We can press in obedience to God’s word (ch: 23).
- God will humble us in our pride and call us into a time of confession and repentance (ch: 42).
In the past eighteen months, I have many times entered into an attempt to discern what God’s bigger picture is; to find an earthly explanation. Watching my father suffer in his last months of life, grieving the loss of a parent, and then entering into a global pandemic, I’ve mourned experiences I knew to be good, yet no longer available to me. I have at times entered into a temporary posture of hypothesizing: “if this is happening, then God must be doing _______.” I am learning, from my time spent in Job, that it’s not about hypothesizing. It’s not “if this, then this”. It is the gospel truth that God is sovereign and all things work together for His glory and the good of His kingdom, of which we have citizenship through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
I am learning that while our circumstances are ever changing, our sovereign God is unwavering. Though our complaints may be justified, doubting the goodness of God is not. In the short book of Job, we get a close and intimate glimpse of the gospel. We observe that God created Job as a man of great wealth and riches, and then we witness him fall at the hand of God. We watch God sanctify Job through his grief and suffering, and then we see Job’s call to confession and repentance, his redemption and beautiful restoration; “and the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning…” (42:12).