Lessons from Job

Trials

  • We cannot gauge God’s approval of us by the trials we endure. The righteous are sometimes the most sorely tested. Job suffered BECAUSE he was righteous, not in SPITE of his righteousness.  Some suffering in this world is not related to any sin.
  • We cannot live only for today. Man can love God, fear God, and pursue righteousness without receiving any prompt reward. Eternity is what counts – not happiness today.
  • We must not assume any area of our life is exempt from trials. When God tries us, NOTHING is untouchable. Job lost everything he had and almost everyone he loved.  And though God restored his wealth and gave him a new family, Job still lived the rest of his life with the memory of losing 10 children.  God is willing to put us through a lot for His purposes.
  • We should see God in all trials. Job never questioned that he was under the hand of God (neither did any of the four other speakers). We might say that God only allowed Satan to try Job and did not directly go after him.  But if Satan falls under God’s sovereignty, does it make a difference as to what God allows versus what He overtly does?
  • We should remember that every trial has two purposes: 1 – A hidden purpose that we sometimes see in hindsight but often never understand; 2 – a revealed purpose which is that we trust God and know Him better and become more conformed to the image of His Son.

Relationship

  • We are never alone. God’s silence does not indicate God’s absence. Job received no answers to his repeated prayers throughout the book, but the end of the story makes it clear that God heard them all.  God acts on His own terms and in His own time – never on or in ours.
  • We are never alone II. God never loses track of us and always knows our ways – and ultimately that is much more important than us always seeing Him and understanding His.
  • We must wait on the Lord. Waiting on the Lord really means patience in trials – the willingness to endure because of faith in the One who brought the trial. James tells us that testing produces endurance which makes us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (more useful for the kingdom).  Even in his anguish and in the midst of demanding an audience with God, Job was still able to say, “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (23:10).  This is the essence of waiting on the Lord.
  • We have a relationship, not a religion. Job’s theology was shattered and all of his beliefs challenged or proved false, but the reason he was ultimately justified is that he never forsook God Himself. Even as he was ranting and raving about God’s unfairness and injustice, he never stopped looking to God as the answer.  He wrestled with God and was honest with God, but he never hinted at rejecting God.  He did not subscribe to the legalism of his friends that said God cannot be questioned and CAN be explained.  But he also did not arrogantly decide that since God did not treat him the way he deserved He was no longer worthy of Job’s belief and worship.
  • We can be honest with God. God does not blame us if in our suffering we vent our despair and confess our loss of hope. He created us with emotions and He is a big God.  He can handle our emotional responses and does not expect us to clean up our act or put on a happy face before we come to Him in prayer.  God never condemns Job for Chapter 3.

God

  • We have no claims on God. God does not owe us an explanation for everything that happens to us. God is more interested in being worshiped and trusted than in making sure we understand everything.  Does it make sense for an eternal God to have to explain His actions to a finite man?  How can we understand a perspective not bound by time or space?  Can a parent explain his actions to a five-year-old?
  • We are not the center of the universe. Life is not about us, it is about God’s glory. Job’s story strikes us as unfair because we assume we have the right to be happy in this life.  We also assume in our omniscience that we know how things should turn out and so become dismayed when something happens to spoil our plans.  Eternal God looks at all creation as a means to glorify Himself.  The story of Job makes no sense apart from an understanding that we are not here for ourselves and we can never see all of time and space as God can.
  • We serve a mysterious God. God’s ways are not our ways. We cannot adequately define or explain God.  The resolution of Job is dissatisfying to us because we see this world from our man-centered perspective.  God Himself is dissatisfying to the natural man because He does not meet man’s expectations of what a God should be based on man’s ideas of God-like behavior (i.e. God does not stop all war, God does not heal everyone who is sick, God allows poverty, God does not have the happiness of man as His primary objective [6 billion people in the world and each one thinks God should listen to him]).  When God came on the scene at the end of Job He completely blew away all prior perceptions of Him and did not give Job any of the explanations he had asked for.  His ultimate answer to all of Job’s cries of “why?” was “I AM.”
  • We do not see what God sees. God sees our trials from a wholly different perspective. In His conversations with Satan, God almost appeared cavalier about the suffering He was about to OK for his servant Job.  But we must remember that God always views our life through the lens of eternity.  God knew that while the trials Job was about to go through were horrific, they paled in comparison with the eternity waiting for him (both in scope and time).  Also, God knew He would never leave Job in the midst of the trials and that ultimately Job would know God better as a result.
  • We do not understand what God understands. God completely understands human suffering from our perspective but we can never understand our suffering from HIS perspective. EVERY aspect of our reality is tainted by sin.
  • We have no right to understand the design, just to trust the Designer.
  • We cannot justify God’s actions in human terms. It is impossible to rationalize war and poverty and disease when God’s purposes for them might be hundreds of years in fruition.
  • We serve an awesome God. The only right response to Chapters 40 and 41 is worship.
  • We do not have to have all the answers. In one sense Job’s story is very liberating for the believer – it shows us we cannot understand everything and so do not have to try. While the book of Job teaches us that we have no right to understand all aspects of suffering and trials, it also relieves us of the responsibility of having to explain all of God’s interactions with His creation.  There are many questions about suffering and evil – from believers and unbelievers alike – to which the appropriate answer is “I don’t know.”

Miscellaneous Quotes on the Book of Job

Oswald Chambers – Baffled to Fight Better

  • The basis of things is not rational. Reason and intellect are our guides among things as they are, but they cannot explain things as they are.
  • The biggest thing you can do for those who are suffering is not to talk platitudes, not to ask questions, but to get into contact with God and the “greater works” will be done by prayer. Job’s friends never once prayed for him; all they did was try to prove a point to enrich their own creed out of his sufferings. We are not intended to understand life.  Life makes us what we are, but life belongs to God.  If I can understand a thing and can define it, I am its master.  I cannot understand or define life; I cannot understand or define God; consequently I am master of neither.  Logic and reason are always on the hunt for definition, and anything that cannot be defined is apt to be defied.  Rationalism usually defies God and defies life; it will not have anything that cannot be defined on a rational basis, forgetting that the things that make up elemental human life cannot be defined.

Mike Mason – Gospel According to Job

  • While it is true that the Lord’s answer to Job is neither logical nor theological, this is not the same as saying that He gives no answer. The Lord DOES give an answer. His answer is Himself.
  • God in effect says to Job, “Here is the deck, learn to play with it. Learn to live without knowing everything. What does it matter whether I give you great wisdom or only a little?  Compared to all there is to know, it is still only a pittance, and therefore many things are going to strike you as preposterous or even insane.  So get used to it.  Live by faith rather than by sight.”
  • Job teaches us that, at least in this world, there will always remain some mysteries to suffering. He also teaches us to exercise faith – not blind, thoughtless submission to an impersonal status quo, but faith in the God who has graciously revealed Himself to us.

D.A. Carson – How long O Lord?

  • Nothing in the book tells us why God challenged Satan. The solemnity and majesty of God’s response to Job not only mask God’s purposes in mystery, but presuppose they are serious and deep, not flighty or frivolous. Nevertheless, the wager with Satan is in certain ways congruent with other Biblical themes.  God’s concern for the salvation of men and women is part of a larger cosmic struggle between God and Satan in which the outcome is certain while the struggle is horrible.
  • Although the three friends were trying to defend God, their theology ended up offering Job a temptation: to confess sins that weren’t there in order to try to retrieve his prosperity. If Job had succumbed, it would have meant that Job cared more for his prosperity than for his integrity or for the Lord Himself; and the Lord would have lost his wager. Their counsel, if followed, would have actually led Job away from the Lord; Job would have been reduced to being yet one more person interested in seeking God for merely personal gain.
  • Job finds out that the only key to life is not a statement of faith in God, nor an intellectual conception of God, but a personal relationship with Him. God himself is the key to the riddle of the universe, and the basis of things is to be found only in Him.
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