By Lori Gardner
The book of Job is a fascinating study for many reasons. We get a glimpse of some of the interaction between God and Satan. It is comforting to read that Satan is limited and that God can make a “hedge” of protection around his people. We see the wonders of creation and rejoice in the power behind it as we ask the age old question, “Why do the righteous suffer?” Along with these lessons, we also find several things for which we can give thanks to God.
For a True Friend
Job lost ten children, his livestock, and most of his servants in one day’s time. Then he was stricken with “sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.” As soon as they heard the news, three of Job’s friends came to visit him. At first, they sat silently with him because they saw his “grief was very great.” Then they felt they had to speak in order to help Job make sense of his misery. Their speeches cover many chapters and they are full of accusations, and self-righteousness. Each friend, in his own long-winded way, said the same thing, “Job, if you were really innocent, you would not be suffering” (Job 4:7; 8:6; 11:6). Job found no comfort or peace in their words.
There are times when the most sincere words from our friends are not enough to comfort us. Thank God we have someone that loves us unconditionally, and knows our every need. John 15:13 describes the characteristic of a true friend, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The Lord Jesus Christ is that friend, the One who gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. He assures us in His Word, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb.13:5; Deut. 31:6). Nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38-39). We are told to cast all our care upon Him, knowing that He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). When we feel desperate, His answer is, “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:10).
For His Mercy
Job’s friends insisted that he must have done something terrible to deserve such suffering. There are times when we suffer consequences for the choices we make, but Job’s calamity was not brought on by any particular sin on his part. The Bible describes Job as “perfect and upright, one that feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). He was considered to be these things because of his faith, which is why God held him up as an example to Satan (Job 1:8; 2:3). The Lord knew that no matter what happened in Job’s life, he would “hold fast his integrity.”
Mercy means not getting what we really deserve. Job was only seen as perfect and upright because of God’s mercy. The Scriptures tell us that we are all born in sin and deserve death as a result (Rom. 5:13; 3:23; 6:23). The only way we can escape a life of misery and eternal separation from God is by receiving by faith His gift of salvation. We can rejoice in the fact that according to His mercy He has saved us (Titus 2:5). It is through Him that we are made righteous (2 Cor. 5:21). Thank God we don’t get what we deserve.
There’s More to Life
In Job 19:13-24, he laments over his circumstances. Physically, Job had become skin and bone. All of his family and friends had forgotten him, and even his wife found him repulsive. In spite of all of this, he still had the hope that one day things would be better. He says, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25-26). Job knew that one day he would be in the very presence of the Lord and all of his suffering and heartache would be over.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19). Believers have assurance from God’s Word that the sufferings of our present life are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). We simply cannot imagine the things which God has prepared for those that love Him (1 Cor. 1:9; Is. 64:4). Thank God believers in the Lord Jesus Christ can look forward to a blessed, heavenly future.
Having endured these hardships, the latter part of Job’s life was blessed more than the beginning. He lived one hundred and forty more years, saw four generations of sons grow up, and died being old and full of days.
Man cannot begin to understand why God works the way He does. Job summed it up well when he said, “I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withheld from thee” (Job 42:2). God is all powerful and all knowing. He has a reason for everything He does. We may not understand it, but we can be thankful that everything He does is because of His love for us.