I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage – I have conquered the world. (John 16:33, New English Translation)
The Book of Job tells the story of “the greatest of all the men of the east.” Job possessed wealth, flocks and herds, and many servants. God called him “a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8, NET). High praise indeed! Yet, would we really be interested in the story of Job if it was only about someone rich who was also a good guy? The heart of Job’s story is not how he became successful but how he faced life when everything disappeared.
Job lost everything in one day—his ten children, his servants, his flocks and herds. Everything except his wife, that is, who suggested he curse God and die. And three friends who called themselves “comforters” but thought he had somehow brought this calamity upon himself.
Job chapters 1 and 2 tell us the backstory—a conversation in heaven between God and Satan. We know what’s taking place and how it came about. We can even read chapter 42 to learn the end of the story when God restored everything to Job. But he did not have the advantage of knowing any of the whys. Nor did he know the coming events of chapter 42. Job endured the entire experience blindly, not understanding why it was happening or when (or if) it would end.
Ever feel like that? Life blindsides us and we have no idea how things suddenly got so out of control. We may not be covered in boils and sitting in ashes like Job (2:7-8), but we feel despondent and miserable.
Let’s look at just a few lessons we can learn from Job’s testing.
Lesson 1: Trouble comes to everyone. “Man, born of woman, lives but a few days, and they are full of trouble” (Job 14:1).
Lesson 2: We can still bless God when everything is gone. “He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. May the name of the LORD be blessed’” (Job 1:21).
Lesson 3: We may feel God is hiding from us, but He is with us even when silent. “If I go to the east, he is not there, and to the west, yet I do not perceive him. In the north when he is at work, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I see no trace of him. But he knows the pathway that I take; if he tested me, I would come forth like gold” (Job 23:8-10).
Lesson 4: Our trials may reveal traits we are reluctant to see in ourselves. “So these three men refused to answer Job further, because he was righteous in his own eyes . . . justifying himself rather than God” (Job 32:1-2).
Lesson 5: Our trials give us a better understanding of God. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye has seen you” (Job 42:5).
Lesson 6: We must be willing to serve God faithfully in the good times and the bad times. “Should we receive what is good from God, and not also receive what is evil?” (Job 2:10).
Lesson 7: We may never understand why we face the difficulties we do. God may never reveal the reasons, but we must trust Him anyway. “Even if he slays me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15).
Whatever you are facing today, you are not alone. God may be silent, but He is present. You will come out on the other side of this trial with a greater understanding of yourself and of God.
“Think of how we regard as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and you have seen the Lord’s purpose, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11).
Lord, thank you for being by my side through every test and trial. Even when I cannot feel You, see You, or hear You, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25). You are always with me.