I have been super absorbed in reading the Book of Job for many days. You might say that the central message is 'blessing through suffering'. None of us has to look very far to find someone who is suffering.....emotionally, physically, financially and yes, spiritually. Suffering of any kind usually brings on a crisis of faith. When you read of all the horrific things that happened in Job 's life, you would expect him to be in the midst of a 'crisis of faith'. But that didn't happen.
In order to absorb it's message, you need to have faith in the writing itself. Who was Job? He was a real person, just like Noah and Daniel. Ezekiel includes Job along with Noah and Daniel In 14:14. He wouldn't throw in a fictional character with 'real' people. Job however did not write his story. We're not sure who did, but the writing itself is a masterpiece of prose and poetry, mostly poetry with a prose prologue and epilogue.
Because I'm a writer I'm captivated by this Hebrew style of poetry. Poetry deals with the heart, it's personal and timeless. On my bed stand I have books of Rumi and Omar Khayyam; their words have been etched in history. The Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs are all books of poetry....the best poetry ever written; it came from the hand of God after all! You might say these poetry books are experiential, they deal with the human condition. The previous 17 books are historical and concern a nation.
When someone says (even someone who doesn't read the Bible or claim to be a Christian), he/she has 'the patience of Job', most of us know what that means. Job was an honorable, righteous man, wealthy - had great earthly blessings of family, fortune, health and friends. Then God took it all away! It was God who said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?"
See Job 1:8. Also notice in this first chapter that Satan has access to God. He came with the angels who were presenting themselves to the Lord. God knew of course, but He asked Satan where he came from. Satan's reply is chilling...."From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it", vs. 7. Satan is for real too and if God allows it, he'll play havoc with your life! This is exactly what Job discovered, but notice this, vs. 12, God sets Satan's boundaries....he can only do what God allows him to do. God never loses control!
Satan was just sure that if Job 'lost it all', his faith would be destroyed. Job did lose it all, but his faith remained. Job became irate with God, he was in pain, emotionl, physical pain.....ever been there? At one point, he even wanted to die. Job stood up to God and questioned Him, showing his anger. In vs. 2:9, his wife told him to 'Curse God and die'! Job's response to that was "'Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?", vs. 10. I think to some degree we all can identify with Job. As Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33.....amen!
The Bible is a book of 'principles', don't miss the principle Jesus is teaching.....if we are 'in Him', (believe, have faith) we are safe from the failures and pain of this world. I've spent almost 9 yrs going into our local jail and speaking to the women there, hundreds of them. They need to know there is a place they can be safe, even though they can't 'see' they are safe. Faith is believing what you can't see. Chrisitianity is a faith based religion. You will find a definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see." How do we get faith? Where does it come from? How come some have faith and others do not? All good questions...the Bible answers every one of them. Know this.....Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith, Heb.12:2. Remember, Jesus has always existed......from the beginning, John 1:1. He was active in the life of Job.
Job had good friends who tried to help him.....most of the story is about their inability to do so. They are all trying to figure out why God let these terrible things happen to Job. These well-meaning friends (don't we all have well-meaning friends??) Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu use analysis, experience, tradition (Bildad calls Job a 'hypocrite'), and they use assumption. They never got it right! What is interesting to me is that they all knew, Job and his buddies, that God was sovereignly in control, that what was happening was from His hand.
There was suffering, and it continued for some time, but how much easier it is for us to have patience with our problems when we understand that God loves us and has a plan for our life. Every situation we face is ultimately from the hand of the Father Who (God) has a higher purpose for His children. He grows us, molds us, refines us and does it all for our ultimate good and for His glory. And best of all, He gives us the faith to trust Him to walk us through the pain of this world.
More on Job next time. Psalm 37: 7 "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him...."
Bobbe Van Hise
- Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.