This year, as many at Mosaic join together in our Read Together plan, we are working our way through the Bible. Over the last week, we began reading one of the more unusual books of the Bible, the book of Job.
The setting of the story is the experience of a man who was essentially blameless in the sight of God but subjected to all sorts of calamity. Satan launches a series of attacks on Job, firstly taking his possessions and family, then he is afflicted with sickness.
During the long illness Job’s friends come to offer him counsel. After a period of quiet they launch into an attack on Job that takes true theology and distorts it. If you have ever read Job then you would know that it is a difficult read because the “friends” of Job mix good and bad theology together. It can be confusing to know what is true and what is false when they are mixed up together. By the end of the book, Job’s friends are rebuked by God for their false counsel about God and Job.
The Lord said to one of Job’s friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”
One of the key issues this book challenges is the simplistic notion of good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people; as a very good man in Job is subject to horrific suffering and injustice. If you ever find yourself in situation like this, where you are suffering or experience injustice whilst you have remained upright, and there are those around you who are trying to blame you and tell you that you have done something wrong, then grab a coffee, find a comfortable chair and spend some time in Job.
Here are a couple of lessons from Job to consider:
- We will face difficulty and Satan will want to damage you. Not a nice thought I know. Whilst the book of Job clearly shows Satan as subordinate to God, it also makes known that he is real and can do horrible things, albeit he has to get permission in this story.
- Job’s calamities have nothing to do with the character of God. Job recognises that whilst upright, he is not perfect, and that God knows what he is doing even when things can be confusing or hard.
- Suffering or hardship does not always tell us about the character of the person suffering. Bad things happen to good people.
Sometimes you have to endure hardship, lean into God, and dare to believe that He has it covered. At the end of the book, Job says these words.
‘I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, “Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?”
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
‘You said, “Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.”
My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.’
Paraphrase, I know I am not perfect, but I trust you. Even an upright life learns through the difficultly and as his understanding of God deepens.