Several years ago I was discussing reading the Bible with my pastor. I was just recovering from a breakdown and he was counseling me. I told him I had never read through the Bible and as part of my recovery I wanted to draw closer to the Lord and lean on Him. My plan was to begin at Genesis and read straight through to the end. Pastor Lee advised me to change my plan. He advised me to start with the book of Job and then the book of John. After I read that he would direct me in the next direction I would go.
After reading the first chapter of Job, I thought that Pastor Lee’s advice was a little strange. Why counsel a seriously depressed woman to read a story about a man who loses everything? After I read the second chapter I was wondering if Pastor Lee was trying to goad me to suicide. But here’s the thing, I completely missed the importance of Job 1:21.
For the last 8 weeks we have been studying Spiritual Warfare in my small group. Last week we revisited Job 1 & 2. Last week I learned the secret to surviving Satan’s attacks. Today I had an opportunity to put what I learned into practice. Let’s just say I need more practice.
Do you remember the story?
Find it here
Wow, pretty intense, eh? There is so much wrong, so much completely unfair with this story. Why is it even in the Bible? Well, I think because it illustrates two very fundamental aspects of Christian character. Let’s take a closer look at this story…
God brought Job to Satan’s attention. Job is a man of wealth and integrity, two attributes that don’t normally go together. He is referred to as blameless and upright, a man who feared God and shunned evil. Satan accused Job of fearing God solely because of the hedge of protection He had placed around Job. It is easy to love God when your life is going well, when you have no challenges or heartbreak. Satan made it a point to bring this to God’s attention. He also made it a point to infer that Job wouldn’t worship God if his life wasn’t so blessed. So God gives Satan permission to strike at Satan’s possessions and everything Job has.
We all know the story. Just as a messenger gives Job the bad news about his oxen and donkeys the next messenger comes up. As that messenger gives him the bad news about his sheep the next messenger comes with bad news regarding his camels. The bad news comes in like waves, wave after wave of bad news. Job loses all his oxen, all his donkeys, all his sheep and camels and almost all his servants. And then the ultimate news, the worst of all… his oldest son’s home has collapsed, killing all seven of his sons and all three of his daughters. Job is left penniless, mourning the loss of his beloved family. All he has left is the clothing on his back and his wife, a wife who encourages him to curse God, virtually ensuring his death. If Job is not in the pit of despair I wonder how he can be considered human. That is a lot of loss to endure all at once.
So here is the first thing that Job teaches us, the first thing that I think is vitally important for good Christian character. Let’s read Job 1:20 and 21 together.
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”
Wait a minute! This man just lost virtually everything and he’s praising the Lord! Is he crazy? Who in his right mind praises God for the devastating losses in their life? Apparently, Job did. Job had his priorities right. He knew that everything he had, all his possessions, all his family, did not belong to him but rather to God. We cannot claim possession of anything in this life. NOTHING! Nothing except the one thing the Lord gifted us with. The freedom to choose a saving faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. As Christians who profess that Jesus is the Lord of our lives we need to praise Him for everything, all the good, all the bad, everything. I’m not saying that it will be easy. I am saying it is necessary, even required of us. God intends those things for our good, no matter how painful and devastating they are at the moment we are immersed in them. I know because I can say this from experience in my life.
And the second thing? Look at Job’s friends:
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.
Job’s three friends met together and went to go sympathize with and comfort Job. They saw that Job’s suffering was so great they did not know what to say. So they sat with him in silence for seven days. When a friend is going through a calamity, when they are attacked with heartbreak or loss sometimes the best thing we can do for them in just sit in silence. We don’t need to fill the air with empty platitudes, we don’t need to help them fix the situation or find reasons. We just need to be with them, to offer support and comfort with our presence.
There is so much more to this story and so much more we can learn from this but I’ve already taken a week to write this much. More is on the way.
I want to close out this blog with a video to one of my all time favorite songs.