Read Job 2
2 On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
At this point in the story, God has already brought attention to Job’s faithfulness once. In response, Satan was allowed to destroy everything Job held dear: possessions, livestock, even his children. In Chapter 2, we see God bring up Job’s faithfulness yet again to Satan. By this point, Job would probably prefer to feature less prominently in God’s esteem. Had he been aware of the conversation going on in heaven, he might even wish he had cursed God earlier in Job 1 just to fly below the radar.
But the obvious point in the story is that Job has no idea that this cosmic interaction is even taking place. He is simply living his life, taking the hits as they come, aware of nothing else but that God has blessed him until now and that all of those blessings have now been stripped away. He has no context of greater purpose–no knowledge that his faithfulness and patience will ever be documented and read for generations as a testament of godliness. There was no awareness of eternal stakes or concerns about his legacy that bolstered him. All he knew was that everything he once had was gone and there was no certainty that his own life wouldn’t next be forfeit.
And in this devastating situation, his response was simply, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” Were any of us in this same situation (and a number of us may have been in a similar one), how easily would we choose to not only trust God, but humbly and willingly receive such circumstances from His Sovereign hand? Somehow for Job, the trust in who God was superseded all questions about what He was doing. His heartfelt response is echoed in the sentiment shared by Paul in his letter to Timothy. In the midst of suffering, Paul says, “I know whom I have believed in”, not that he knew what he had believed in. It seems that the humble resilience of both of these icons of faith rested on the fact that their foundation was not built on what God was doing, but on who they knew God to be.
In the darkness that often is life in this fallen world, the tenets that mark the “blameless and upright” people of God are the beliefs that, regardless of circumstance, He will be proven sovereign and He will be proven good.
- When faced with your own adversity, how often have you responded more like Job and how often have you responded more like Job’s wife?
- When your friends go through personal tragedy, do you come around them and mourn with them, letting your silence speak louder than your wisdom?
- If you had to choose to have nearness to God in the midst of trouble or distance from God in a life of ease, which would you choose?
“Reading Job prayerfully and meditatively leads us to face the questions that arise when our lives don’t turn out the way we expect them to.” Eugene Peterson
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