“The best cure for discouragement or qualms is another daring plunge of faith” – C.T. Studd
Today, we shall look at some similarities between the life of Job and the modern-day believer. I have heard on several occasions people referring to their own or other people’s adverse situations as to having a ‘Job experience.’ I, however, do not subscribe to the phrase because it is not entirely accurate. I believe the only experience we share with Job is that Satan must ask God for permission to test our faith. Job’s experience was unique to himself.
I must admit that I used to think the book of Job was the most boring and laborious to read in the entire Holy Bible. Until the other day when I was led, by the Holy Spirit, to read it again but this time with understanding. You see, I had been dealing with a series of disappointments that were making me quite sad and despondent. Feeling overwhelmed by it all, I asked the question, “Why is this happening to me?” I am quite sure many, if not all of you can relate to the preceding.
None of us wants trials. We want the proverbial bed of roses or whatever species of flora that is to one’s liking. That sense of entitlement is even more inflated when one thinks one is a “good” Christian. As we know, Job existed under the Old Testament/Covenant, so he operated under the Law. We are given a synopsis of Job’s character by Almighty God Himself, that he was, “Blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” His family unit consisted of a wife, seven sons and three daughters and he was a cattleman who owned many servants. He was also described as, “The greatest of all the people of the East.” So, he was quite the mogul of his days who enjoyed a ‘cushy’ lifestyle.
Concerning Job’s sons, they loved to celebrate their birthdays and Job feared that they would sin in the process. (Interestingly, his life, pre calamity was not without worry or anxiety). Knowing how overconsumption of alcohol tends to remove all inhibitions, Job, being the loving and concerned father that he was, dutifully set out very early, after their feastings, “To offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all,” as an ‘act of contrition,’ on their behalf.
Little did Job know that his world was going to be turned sideways, then upside down. Calamity came to his household, one after the other. The Sabeans raided his oxen and donkeys, killed his servants save one. Then, we are told by another surviving servant that, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and (some other) servants.” Then again, Chaldeans…raided the camels and took them away and killed yet some more servants.” Already, possibly numb with shock, the unthinkable happened; Job’s children were all crushed to death under the house of their oldest brother.
Suddenly being plunged into mourning, Job made one of the most erroneous statements ever. He said, “…The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away.” Job made this statement, not because it is correct but because he was not present when he was the subject of discussion between God and Satan. Let us look at a portion of that conversation.
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
Then the LORD said to 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?”
So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing?
“Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
“But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
So the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
Immediately after, Satan in his signature diabolical style, “came in like a flood” upon Job, stealing his property, family and peace of mind. All in a bid to prove to Almighty God that Job would curse Him. Is not that what some of us do when our seemingly ‘perfect’ lives have been interrupted by calamity? Some of us get angry with God and blame Him for the trauma unleashed by Satan upon our lives.
Anyway, Satan continued his onslaught on Job by inflicting him with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” Poor Job. His friends offered no support to help alleviate his pain and suffering. They were attributing his misfortune to wrong doing. Today, our friends in the Body of Christ might accuse us of same or they might say something like, “Don’t you pray and fast?” or “Do you not use your authority against such things?” or “You should command angels around you for divine protection.” All well-intentioned advice.
However, they seem to completely forget that God never promised in His word that trouble would not ever come our way. Regardless of what we may do, trouble comes people! It always comes. Every time in a bid to get you to turn your back on Almighty God and curse Him. I am grateful that God does not turn His back on us when we dare to blame Him for our misfortunes. He, instead, loves us even harder.
During my time of testing, I realized I were focusing, almost obsessively on the successive obstacles that were causing me grief. I was shell-shocked and confused. The Holy Spirit kept trying to remind me about instances where he showed me that obstacles would be placed in my way but He carried me over them all. That was about the time the Holy Spirit exhorted me to read the book of Job. Honestly, it was an uphill battle to maintain an attitude of faith.
Furthermore, during my Job exposition, I realized a few surprising facts: Such as, Job was not given “more than he could bear (or endure);” See 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 13 which says, “No temptation (or test) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted (or tested) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (or test) will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear (or endure it).”
Also, he began to focus more on his misfortunes to the point of exposing a part of his personality that we seem to miss; that is, an inflated sense of self-importance. Job, Chapters 29, 30 and 31 reveal the preceding. Those chapters are long and each verse is important. Please take some time to read them. I will do my best to give a brief explanation of each one on this platform.
Chapter 29: Job began to reminisce and long for the wealth, family life and respect he once enjoyed. He spoke as though he was abandoned by Almighty God and dared to make some frighteningly prideful statements about himself during his verbal musings. Clearly forgetting that he was a servant of Almighty God, whose purpose it was to be a blessing to people and give God the glory. His charitable acts pre calamity make me wonder about the motive behind it all. Did he really care about the welfare and wellbeing of others or was it all just to be seen as a ‘good man’ and garner as much praise and glory for himself?
Chapter 30: It would appear as though Job, because of his past status in the community, mainly associated with people of same class or higher. I say this because it is revealed in chapter 30 that he looked down on those who were of no use or profit to him. He did not see their need but saw that class of people as others saw them; that is, “worthless and nameless.” He was hurt, embarrassed and angry because those he deemed were less that he, was now taunting and laughing at him.
Chapter 31: In this chapter, Job has entered full self-righteous mode. He continues to list the ‘good things’ he had done and the bad things (sins) he ‘kept himself’ from committing. He thought himself worthy of an euphoric existence because of his works and his righteousness. Job was attempting to justify himself because of the way he perceived himself and felt that Almighty God was oppressing him for no good reason. What a dangerous precipice to place oneself, even today.
A rather interesting young man named Elihu began to speak to Job and his ‘friends.’ He rebuked the ‘friends’ on their faulty opinions about Job’s condition and he rebuked Job for his pride and self-righteous attitude. Elihu made profound statements to Job. Some of which we would do well to take heed ourselves. He said in Chapter 37, “Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God…With God is awesome majesty…He is excellent in power, in judgment and abundant justice; He does not oppress.”
Job’s response to his sufferings basically revealed his prideful, self-righteous nature. Qualities that do not belong in a child of God.
God’s response to Job was epic. I have begun to meditate on the first few verses myself whenever I feel my faith gauge dropping. He said, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?… Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!” (Chap. 38 vv 1-5). I implore you to read chapters 38, 39, 40, 41 and 42. Our God, the True and Living, Holy and Heavenly Almighty God is so remarkably awesome. Almighty God rebuked Job as though that was the purpose of that ‘faith testing’ exercise in the first place. A pruning exercise that resulted in repentance and mind renewal, I am sure.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience/endurance.
But let patience/endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James Chap. 1 vv 2-4).
Our own response to calamity and misfortune also reveals what needs to be pruned from our nature, so that our walk could be pleasing to God.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths” (Prov Chap 3 vv 5-6).
By Gail Reid
All scripture was taken from the New King James Version Bible (NKJV).