Today’s reading is on Job (Job 1-2).
Today, we come into one of the most personally convicting stories in the Bible, the tale of Job. Here is a man who has it all: A happy family, enough wealth to live in great comfort, fields of thousands of livestock, more than enough servants to take care of them all, and respect and prestige among his people. Above all, he was a man who prized his Lord above all. The Lord Himself even rejoices in Job’s faith, saying in verse 8, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
Then how much more painful all that happens to Job: his livestock slaughtered, his servants killed, his family crushed in a freak accident, and his very body consumed by horrible, agonizing sores across his entire body. In the blink of an eye, this man’s life hand in life has gone from plentiful to torturous. While we know this was the work of Satan from our perspective of the text, Job can see no fault in what he’s done. From what he’s experienced, the greatest torture he had to endure I can only imagine must have come from within his own mind, thoughts whispered from the Devil: What had he done to deserve this? How had the wronged the Lord to earn such overwhelming retribution?
But never once does Job harden his heart against the Lord: as he speaks over the course of this book, we see the heart of one who has truly given all he has to God. Although he may curse his own life and beg for death, never once does he speak out against or doubt the Lord or His plan. What a feat this must have been: for all the pain he had gone through, never once did Job lose faith.
One of the biggest questions people have always had for Christians is “why do such awful things happen to good people?” There is no true answer we can give: not one of us in this life will understand the nature of God. But in Job’s story, we see one reason: Satan attempting to undermine our faith and the refuge we can find in the Lord. From Job’s perspective though, he does not know what transpired to affect his life in this way. He will have to endure the rest of his time on earth not knowing why the Lord had not prevented this from happening. But never does his steadfast faith fade.
When tragedy befalls you, how do you handle it? Do you look outward for answers from others and the world around you, look inward to your own actions and behaviors and wrestle with guilt and anger towards the self? Do you look to the Lord for answers and demands, or do you surrender yourself to Him and follow His plans for your life in even your darkest seasons, knowing He has plans for you and will bring provide no matter what? In times of intense grief and unbearable pain, we can look to Job for answers: how will God provide? How can we go on? We may never know, but we know the Lord is powerful and sovereign, loves us deeply, and will never leave us.
Scripture reminds us of this: Isaiah 41:10 says “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” When we find faith difficult to muster over our desperation and questions for God, Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” And of course Psalm 23:4 reminds us that God looks out for us even amidst our darkest times: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.”
Job experiences it firsthand here, and we learn as well: God is always with us, especially when we are crushed by heartbreak and surrounded by death and despair. Even though we can’t provide answers for the trials we face, we know the Lord enables our capability to withstand any storm. All we must do is trust wholly in Him and his unshakeable shelter and protection. For just as God surely knew during Job’s ordeal that his faith would keep him going, God knows any suffering we could ever go through, He has already ensured we He will see us through. Preparation to turn our hearts to God in times of ease and plenty can often be overlooked – if you’re in that period of life today, pray for your heart to be strengthened in the Lord now. And pray for those of us who may be winding our way through the valley of death as it were – be ready to offer a helping hand and the encouraging word of the Lord to those who may need it more than ever.