The book of Job has been popping up recently in conversation, so I’ll take a cue that I should write about it. James tells us that Job was a man who persevered so we would become aware of what God is capable of—even through the worst of circumstances…
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
But let’s be honest—the book of Job is really, really long. 42 chapters to be exact. But it can be split up into three sections to better tackle it. The first part deals with Job’s distress, the second part—Job’s defense, and the final part—Job’s deliverance.
Part One (Distress)
In the first part, we see that Job was one of the most godly men of his time. His devotion found favor in God’s eyes and so he had been blessed as a result. But it was this intimate relationship that also attracted Satan to test the authenticity of it. The devil thought that by taking away all that Job had been blessed with, he might turn away from his devotion.
So God allowed Job to become targeted by Satan and tested. As a result, Job lost everything—his health, his family and his wealth. The only thing he had left to cling to was his life, which the devil had been instructed was the only thing off limits.
Yet, what was the point in living now? It is written that Job developed painful sores that covered his body. Even Job’s own wife advised him that he should commit suicide. (What a real companion, huh?). And yet, we are told that Job was a righteous man. So can even righteous men be subject to such abuse?
Part Two (Questions)
The second part is the largest section of the book. It is where Job shares his thoughts with us, arguing that he just can’t figure out why the righteous like him should suffer. He’s truly upset at what God has done, and emotionally upset about what God has allowed.
Dr. Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, TX says that’s perfectly okay. It’s okay to be discouraged when things aren’t going well. It’s okay to feel bad if there’s something to feel bad about. Heck, it’s even okay to question God.
After all, God already knows you’re questioning Him.
So James advises us that any man who lacks wisdom should come to God because He already knows you’re confused…
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
So here is Job, doing the right thing, and suddenly his whole world collapses in front of him. That’s something anyone would be confused about. Yet, unbeknownst to Job—behind the scenes—his righteous dedication to God was being tested by Satan. And so, in the midst of it, Job makes this statement…
Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.
In other words, even though God is allowing the tough times in your life to consume every minute, take a cue from Job and continue to trust in the Lord, regardless of how bad it seems. Even if it’s something that you brought on—through poor choices or regretful decisions—don’t underestimate how God will use them to grow you.
As Dr. Evans emphasizes, “God will turn a sin into a trial, once you confess it, and once you move on—to grow you even through that negative experience.”
Job endured a trial, and as bad as things were for him, there was only one thing left for him to endure—and that was death. But God wouldn’t let Job die because He had his hand on the situation. He told Satan that he could do whatever he wanted in order to test his loyalty to Him, but with one caveat—Satan couldn’t touch his life.
“Did you know that in the trial you are going through, God has his hand on the thermostat and it can only get as hot as He allows it to get?” – Dr. Tony Evans
God allowed Job’s situation to occur, because He was in complete control of it. Yet, Job didn’t know how “hot” that situation would be. And even if God decided to end Job’s life right then and there, Job would have believed that God still knew what He was doing.
Now that is a strong commitment of faith right there, and one that we should be inspired by. If Job can endure, let’s be reminded that we can endure as well. Instead of complaining, God wants a statement of commitment to trust Him in our trials, no matter how hot things get, because He is God. And He is GOOD.
Part Three (Deliverance)
In the last chapter of Job’s story, we get to read about his deliverance. Yet, just before he is rescued, he comes to an interesting conclusion. As Dr. Evans puts it rather well—there is only room in the universe for one God, and you are not He. Through his trial, Job realized this as well…
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.
Remember, in the large section of chapters before this moment, Job spent all that time questioning why someone like him had to go through such torment. He had been trying to figure out God’s motives, unaware of what was really going on behind the scenes in the spiritual realm. And to try to figure out God is a waste of time. As the prophet Isaiah reinforces…
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
So even though Job couldn’t figure Him out, he did walk away with some valuable insight, and something very profound as a result of his experiences…
My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
Okay, but what does this statement really mean?
Let’s put it in a more modern context. It means that even though Job heard the preacher preach about God, went to church to learn about God, listened to all the podcasts about God, and watched all the TV shows about God—Job finally experienced God for himself. And that is the big difference, my friends.
See, many of us have been going to church all of our lives, but many haven’t seen Him just yet.
Dr. Evans puts it rather well by saying, “God wants you to go through a trial so that what you hear in your ears, and think out of your mind—you now see with your eyes. He doesn’t just want you to know what happened to Job. He doesn’t just want you to know what happened to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He doesn’t just want you to know what happened to Hezekiah, and Hebecca. He doesn’t just want you to know what happened to Ruth. He wants you to be able to get up and give your own testimony.”
Amen to that.
The reason God let Job go through these trials, was not just to merely test him. It was so that Job could really see God for himself and that he could serve as a witness to the rest of us!
A New View of God and Ourselves
“You’ll never see a mountain until God lifts you up from a valley. You’ll never have to endure until you’re put in a situation that demands endurance.” – Dr. Tony Evans
God doesn’t want us to piggyback off of anyone else’s knowledge or spirituality. He wants us to experience Him for ourselves. That is going to have a more powerful impact on our lives and serve as our own personal testimony. Through his trials, Job received a new view of God. But that’s not all. He also received a new view of himself…
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.
In Job 29, Job uses the word “I” repeatedly to defend all of his righteousness. Yet who is truly righteous before God based on merits alone? None of us.
You see, when you truly experience God, it radically changes your view of yourself. Take for example, what happened with Peter in Luke 5, who thought he was righteous, knowing how to fish until he came into the presence of the Lord. It changed his heart and how he viewed himself after that moment.
“Everybody wants to be humble, but nobody wants to be humbled. God is in the business of making Him bigger and you smaller. And your trials are to let you know that there are certain things in your life that you can’t fix.” – Dr. Tony Evans
And it is in those moments that we desperately need God. Not only to solve the dilemmas at hand, but to increase His value in our lives and decrease our own self-righteousness.
In our culture today, there is this increased importance of “me.” It is cleverly disguised as self-sufficiency, or self-reliance, so self-worth. We have become idols unto ourselves and revered our own ability to endure and overcome obstacles that hinder us. But what we fail to realize is just how much we cannot accomplish on our own. We really do need God for everything. It is He who gives us strength, not ourselves. We don’t just suddenly get the courage to do something. He puts that in our hearts.
Trusting Us with the Blessings
Some Christians decide to focus on the fact that at the end of Job’s trial, he was given more blessings or “stuff,” than he had at the beginning. But that’s not the key to understanding the book of Job. It was not until after Job gained a new view of God, and himself, could God now trust him with the “stuff” He wanted to give him. In other words, the blessings came packaged with the spiritual renewal.
“God won’t give us some stuff that we pray for because He can’t even trust us with the stuff we have. For many of us, comfort is more important than character. Convenience is more important than commitment. And cash is more important than Christ. And God wants it that Christ is more important than cash, commitment more important than convenience, and character more important than comfort. And He will try you until you get the point. That your internal spiritual qualities come before your external stuff. And until that get switched around, He will try you.” – Dr. Tony Evans
So in essence, Job’s own view of his righteousness (his pride) had to get busted in order for him to be humbled before God. Then God trusted Him with the blessings…
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.
So when you’re going through your trials, keep Job’s story in mind. The longer it takes to get out of a trial, the greater the harvest will be at the end of the season. If God lets you out too soon, the fruit will be underdeveloped. If He lets you stay too long, the fruit will be overly ripe.
Trust in Him and allow Him to develop you in your situation exactly the way He intended. God allows just the right amount of time to produce the greatest amount of fruit.