One of the most famous stories in the Bible is the story of Job. Job’s story is one of power, depression, loneliness, integrity, sickness, and loss. His story shows us the power and dominion that we have in our lives. Job’s story teaches us many lessons, one’s that we can apply to our lives right now. We are currently living in difficult times. Many of our loved ones have lost their lives or are gravely ill. We are uncertain about our future, our health, our finances, and so many other aspects of our lives. A lot of us are like Job to some degree. We are on our last legs, being gruesomely tested, and trying to hold on to our faith.
Job’s story not only gives us comfort in our suffering. It lets us know that we are not alone. His story also gives us tools that we need to battle feelings of depression and anxiety.
Job’s story begins with wealth and riches galore.
1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. 4 His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.Job 1:1-5 (NIV)
Job was a wealthy man in almost every sense of the word. He had a steady income, a large family, the respect of his neighbours, God’s favour, and a righteous spirit. He essentially had everything that every man could ever want.
How many of us feel like things begin to turn bad every moment they are good and steady?
Well, at this moment, when things were peaceful and calm, things began to turn bad for Job. Satan presented himself before God and the two discussed Job. While God attested to Job’s loyalty and dedication to him, Satan questioned it. He said that Job was only loyal to God because He gave everything to him. Satan believed that if God were to allow harm to fall upon Job, he would turn his back on Him. So, God allowed Satan to interfere with Job’s life.
11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”Job 1:11-12 (NIV)
In the course of one day, Satan did his worst.
Job’s livestock, servants, and all ten of his children died. Job, the man who had everything, now had nothing, or so onlookers though. In response to this horrific news, Job shaved his head, tore off his clothes, knelt to the ground, and say this to God:
“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.”Job 1:21 (NIV)
Satan was defeated.
His plan failed. Job did not curse God. Despite his failure, he did not give up. God gave Satan another chance to toy with Job’s life. This time, Satan brought terrible sores onto Job’s skin. At this point, Job’s wife turns to him and questions God’s loyalty. She essentially says that God has turned His back on Job and that he should just do the same God, accept his fate, and die. However, Job refused and said this to his wife:
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”Job 2:10 (NIV)
In Job’s adversity, he still refused to curse his Saviour.
Amid his suffering, Job sat alongside the road. Three of his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, came to visit him. They saw the great amount of pain he was in and sat by his side to comfort him for 7 days.
At the end of these seven days, Job began to give in to his suffering.
Job began to lose faith in God showed this by cursing the day he was born. Job compares his life to light and death to darkness. He said that the day he was born should have been clouded in death, or darkness and that the life, or light, he has prolonged the darkness that he now faces. His friends try to rationalize Job’s suffering by explaining that God was punishing him for past sin, but Job didn’t have any of it. Job believes that he did not do anything wrong; therefore, he should not be punished.
He began to believe that either God was unjust or God did not run the world according to justice. This makes Job upset, and he began to accuse God of being a tormentor who picks on those who are innocent while letting the wicked roam free without punishment.
7 Surely, God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household. 8 You have shriveled me up—and it has become a witness; my gauntness rises up and testifies against me. 9 God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me; my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes.Job 16:7-9 (NIV)
At this point, another perspective is introduced.
After Job’s cry to God, another one of Job’s friends, Elihu, enters the conversation. Rather than siding with Job or his friends, Elihu proposes a new perspective on Job’s suffering. He suggests that God allows suffering on people not because they have sinned nor because God is unjust. Rather, he says, God allows suffering to deepen his connection with them. In suffering, people can experience the fullness of God’s forgiveness once it ends. Without suffering, there is no spiritual growth, or wisdom, or trust built with God. Elihu says that Job is wrong for accusing God of being an unfair bully because that is not who He is.
All of a sudden, God entered the conversation.
First, he addressed Job’s claims that He is unjust and unfit to run the universe. While listing the minute details of the universe, God gives Job a dose of humility by asking where he was and what he knows about the universe. Job can’t answer these questions, and he quickly acknowledges God’s power and authority. God also challenges Job’s friend’s theory about being quick to punish all those who do wrong. God says that the world is complex; therefore, it is not as simple nor is it as fair to quickly punish those who do wrong. Job and his friends realize that they are in no position to determine how God should run the world. They beg for God’s forgiveness, and God forgives.
God restores to Job everything that was taken away from him in abundance. He begins by taking away his sickness, giving him twice as much property as before, new children, and long, healthy life.
So, how does Job’s story relate to our everyday suffering?
Job’s journey teaches us a lot about our encounters with pain, depression, and faith. Sure, most of Job’s journey shows us what not to do, but in observing such, we are able to learn about God and what he expects of us as his children.
We will be continuing this article with our lessons learned from Job in the second part of this article. Stay tuned!
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