Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, a baptist church in Jessup, MD. B.A. in Bible, B.S. English Ed., M.S. in Educational Leadership.
The biblical Job appears to have been wealthy and prominent man of ancient times (Job 1:2), a reputable judge (Job 29:7-17), and an army leader, perhaps a king (Job 29:25). He was a man with a large family (1:4), and the Bible calls him “the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:3, KJV). Moreover, Job seems to have been a happy man who felt secure and optimistic about his future (Job 29:18).
According to the Bible, however, Job’s greatest attribute was his righteous character: “That man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” (Job 1:1, KJV)
Struck by Misfortune
Job’s wealth was measured by the number of domestic animals and servants he owned: seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yokes of oxen (thus, one thousand oxen), five hundred donkeys, and many servants (Job 1:2). Moreover, his family consisted of a wife and ten children (seven boys and three daughters).
The Bible tells us that Job suddenly lost everything he had. His livestock and servants were concurrently destroyed by enemies and by acts of God, and even his children died when a powerful wind caused one of their houses to collapse on them (Job 1:13-19).
Responding to Pain
Job’s response to his sudden loss of wealth and family was to tear off his clothes and shave his head (a biblical expression of grief and mourning), and to fall to the ground and worship God, which was an amazing act of faith and submission to God’s will.
Similarly, his words also reflect deep distress and deep commitment to God. “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21, KJV)
Notice, that although Job is certainly accepting God’s will and worshipping God, Job is also wishing for death. Job has lost all his livestock, his servants, and his own children to death. All he has left are his wife and his own life. In his mind, it is his time to die.
Nevertheless, God does not grant Job death, and Job is about to find out that there is still more he can lose.
Job was afterwards struck by a tormenting skin disease that covered his entire body (Job 2:7), and as time went by he realized that he had also lost the respect and support of others (Job 30:1,9,10).
As time passes, Job continues to wish for death (Job 6:8-9). He comes to think that God has become his enemy (Job 6:4); he argues with God (7:17-21), and he questions God (Job 10:2-7). Job also despairs because there is no one to mediate between him and God (Job 9:12,32,33).
These, of course, are natural human responses to pain. Many people find it hard to continue to trust God and to believe in Him when life gets tough. Some people become angry at God and give up on Him. Surely, we all have wondered at some point in our lives why God allows pain in our lives.
A Council in Heaven
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.” (Job 1:6, KJV)
Job did not know why God had allowed pain in his life, but God’s Word (the Bible) gives us an explanation.
God had previously met with his angels and Satan (the Devil), and God had expressed delight over Job’s devotion to Him. Satan, however, questioned Job’s motivation for loving God. Satan believed that Job’s devotion to God was superficial, and that Job would curse God if He removed his blessings and protection from his life.
As a result of Satan’s challenge, God allowed Satan to test Job.
It appears that these kinds of meetings take place in Heaven on several occasions (actually, used to take place; see Revelation 12:10). In one meeting, the Lord allowed a spirit to deceive the prophets and King Ahab (1 Kings 22:19-23); and in another meeting, Satan requested permission to try Peter (Luke 22:31-32). Moreover, a third similar meeting can be inferred when we compare 2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1.
Thus, the faith of human beings and the manner in which their faith will be tried is a topic of interest to God, angels, demons, and Satan. They appear to meet from time to time to discuss these matters will be handled.
Nevertheless, it is important for us to remember this: Satan sought to try Job’s faith to demonstrate that it was superficial and to prove God was wrong about Job; God, on the other hand, sought to try Job’s faith to demonstrate that it was genuine and to prove Satan was wrong about Job. God’s goals and Satan’s goals are not the same. God is on our side, but Satan seeks to undermine us (Zechariah 3:1-4).
The point then is that God often allows pain in our lives to try our faith. The Bible does reveal other reasons for which God allows pain in people's lives, but this particular reason is perhaps the most fundamental.
"Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:4-6, KJV)
It is not known how long Job had to wait for God to answer his prayers, but God finally responded to Job. God spoke to Job from a whirlwind, probably to demonstrate his amazing power and to get his attention.
God, however, did not really give Job an explanation about the council in Heaven. Instead, God challenged Job and asked him many questions that were impossible for Job to answer. Some questions were meant to remind Job that he is a mere mortal and finite being (Job 38:4), and others were meant to remind him that God is the Creator of all things (Job 38:5). Other questions were meant to demonstrate that there are mysteries for which Job does not know the answer, but God does (Job 38:6).
God's point was clear: He is the omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing) Creator; as such, He is sovereign and worthy to make decisions about humanity's condition and destiny. It is not our place to question Him, even though at times life hurts.
How Does God Answer Our Questions?
Greater than We Fathom
We human beings often struggle to accept God's sovereignty. We feel that He is insensitive to our needs and opinions, and as a result there are people who just don't like God. These people feel that God doesn't have the right, that God is wrong, and that God is unjust. Such people would do well to remember Job's words:
"For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment." (Job 9:32, KJV)
Our problem is that when we think of God we think of someone very similar to Morgan Freeman: an older man with talent, style, and a taste for humor; but a man nonetheless. The truth, however, is that God is not a man. Arguing with Him is like arguing with a hurricane, protesting against an earthquake, and or trying to put of the Sun. It is pointless; you will lose every time.
Even though the God of the Bible is a person with feelings and volition, He also has attributes that make Him a lot like a universal principle or a universal law: He is everywhere, He knows everything, and there is no limit to what He can accomplish. Just as we should not ignore and pretend it does not exist, but instead accommodate to how it operates, we should also respect God and submit to Him.
Growth, Grace, and Glory
Job had lost so much; nevertheless, God used Job's trial to help him grow. Job now had a more personal understanding of God as Creator and Sovereign (Job 42:2-3); Job also had special revelation from God and a first-hand experience of a theophany (Job 38:1, 42:5), increased faith (Job 42:4), and greater understanding of his own limitations and imperfections, which understanding led him to repentance (Job 42:6).
Moreover, God used Job to be a blessing to his friends (Job 42:8-9), and He also blessed Job, giving him twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10).
Finally, it should be obvious that God proved Satan wrong. Job never cursed God; and although Job did become angry with God, he continued to hope in God (Job 13:15-16) and to trust in Him (Job 19:26). God accomplished His purpose.
Read below the Scripture below:
"3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
(1 Peter 1:3-9, KJV)
Whenever you experience pain and suffering, please remember everything God accomplished in the life of Job through the trials Job faced; remember also God's promises to those who believe in Jesus Christ; and remember that your faith is to God more precious than gold.
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© 2017 Marcelo Carcach
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 10, 2017:
"There is still more he can lose." Surviving Hurricane Irma makes this statement right true for me. Thanks for this valuable message of faith.