Last week I posted Part I of the Tackling “THE WHY” article series. The purpose of this article series is to help us deal with tough circumstances in life through relating to biblical figures and situations, thereby helping us grow in our faith in GOD.
Job (Job 1-42)
Job is probably one of the more extreme examples that we will go through. Like you, Job went through some pretty tough circumstances, and like you he was left wondering why. For all we know, Job had been going about life in the right way and did nothing to find himself in the terrible circumstance that he found himself in. In fact, GOD described Job as blameless, upright, fearer of GOD, and one who shunned evil (Job 1:8). This was not what those who knew Job characterized him as, but rather this is how GOD characterized him. One would think that a man characterized like Job deserved no adversity at all, but there was much adversity that was about to befall Job. This adversity came in two hard-hitting doses.
It is important to note that what happened to Job was allowed by GOD. The havoc that Satan is about to unleash on Job’s life was well within the control of GOD. Satan was trying to prove a point and say that the reason Job worships GOD is because of all that GOD had blessed him with. Job was known as “the greatest of all the people of the east” because of his many blessings. Job possessed great numbers of livestock (which indicated wealth in those days) and had sons and daughters. Satan’s hypothesis was if the things GOD had given Job were taken away from Job, then he would no longer serve and worship GOD. GOD allowed Satan to take all that Job possessed, livestock and children included, but Satan was not allowed to touch Job. Though the scene is about to get crazy, GOD is in control and sets the parameters.
So, Satan came through and took everything Job possessed. All his livestock was either taken or destroyed and all of his children were killed. Job received all of this news within a matter of moments. (I failed to mention that it was GOD who put Job on Satan’s radar. GOD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, there is none like him on the earth.”) Now, Job’s response to all of that was incredible. His response to losing all of his possessions and his children was, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of LORD.” Wow! What a response. Satan told GOD that if everything was taken from Job, Job would curse GOD to HIS face – however, instead of cursing, comes blessing from the lips of Job.
But it is not over. Satan was not satisfied. Though his first hypothesis was wrong Satan would not quit. He amended his hypothesis and now stated that if GOD struck Job’s body, then Job would indeed curse GOD to HIS face (Job 2:4-5). So GOD allows Satan to strike Job with sores all over his body; “from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7). Once again it is GOD who sets the parameters by saying, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life” (Job 2:6). These sores hurt so bad that Job began to take broken pottery and scrape himself to try to get relief, while he sat in ashes (sitting in ashes represents a sign of deep mourning). By this point even his own wife advises him to “Curse GOD and die.” But Job responds in the most astounding way. Job says, “You speak as one of the foolish women should speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” What a response. That response goes against our instinctual human nature! Once again Job did not sin against GOD with his lips.
After this, three of Job’s friends come to mourn with him – weeping, tearing their robs, and sprinkling dust on their heads (symbols of intense mourning). They sat with him for seven days and seven nights and nobody spoke a word to him, “for they saw his suffering was very great” (Job 2:13).
The book of Job goes on for a total of 42 chapters. Job’s friends are convinced that Job has sinned and that is why this great disaster has come upon him. Most of the remainder of the book is Job and his friends making arguments back and forth with both of them trying to figure out “why.” In the end Job’s friends were rebuked because they spoke wrong, arguing that Job’s sin was the cause of his distress. Job was also rebuked essentially because in his rebuttal against his friends he sought to justify himself rather than justify GOD. However, GOD restored all that Job had lost and even the more. GOD gave Job twice as much as he had before and blessed him with seven more sons and three daughters.
Thousands of years later the Apostle James uses Job as an example to encourage the saints who were going through some rough times with these words: “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). Like Job, these saints probably felt like they had not done anything to deserve their circumstance, but they can be encouraged by Job who went through such difficulty in a way that GOD ultimately was glorified. Satan’s hypothesis was wrong. Job’s devotion to GOD was beyond Job’s possessions and good health. Job’s seeing GOD as good and worthy of blessing instead of cursing went beyond Job’s circumstances. Job saw GOD as good and that was good enough for him. Job trusted GOD no matter the circumstance – no matter the circumstance Job trusted that GOD was good. This is verified when Job says, “Though HE slay me, yet will I trust in HIM” (Job 13:15).
There is much we can learn from the example of Job, but I only have a few things that I want to point out to you:
First, what happened to Job was described by GOD as “without reason” meaning that Job did not do anything to deserve his harsh circumstances. Just like man cannot “do” anything to deserve the great gift of salvation, sometimes man does not do anything to deserve harsh circumstances. I know that is probably opposite of our natural thinking. Naturally we believe that only “bad people” deserve bad circumstances, but that is not how things work in this temporal state of our world. Truth be told, we are all “bad” as the scriptures say, “there are none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). Under that line of thinking none of us would ever receive anything good. So, yes, bad choices can lead to bad circumstances and good choices can lead to good circumstances, but that is not always the case. Job did nothing to deserve his despair and neither did JESUS – yet we see both of them go through horrific situations.
The second and last thing that I want to point out with Job’s situation is that GOD was totally in control. GOD set the parameters on what Satan could do with Job. First, GOD allowed Satan to take all that Job had but he could not touch Job. So, Satan took everything but Job physically was left alone. The second time, GOD told Satan he could harm Job physically but he could not kill him. Then we see Job harmed physically but he still had his life. GOD was always in control. This reminds me of Job 38 when GOD is speaking, and about the sea HE says, 8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst out from the womb, 9 when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and verse 11 says, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’ (Job 38:8-11 ESV). Look again at the bold print in the line above. GOD said this to the seas when they burst out and HE essentially said the same thing to Satan when it came to Job. HE told Satan “thus far shall you come and no farther!” GOD told Satan not to touch Job and Satan did not touch him. GOD told Satan not to kill Job and Satan did not kill him. Satan did not because he could not. GOD was in control. GOD was in control then and GOD is in control now. Knowing GOD was in control is why Job could say, “Though HE slay me, yet will I trust in HIM.”
I encourage you dear brethren, to seek the mercy of GOD when harsh circumstances befall you; especially those that take place beyond our understanding or comprehension. There is no need for us talk to Satan, because GOD is in control.
Grace and peace.0