Job 1:21-22 “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.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
In a number of ways the Book of Job is a mystery, but it is a compelling one, because it confronts the issue of human suffering. Job’s three friends spout pious platitudes, but for them all to be true, sin and suffering would have to be in a direct cause/effect relationship, and life shows us that isn’t so. What Job teaches us is that no one is so good as to completely escape suffering, and God is more than able to turn any suffering around and bless us immensely. Job’s attitude, expressed here, is that God is God and He is good, and that should settle all questions whether we understand things or not. Dealing with his friends and his wife takes him on quite a roller coaster ride of emotions, but he doesn’t depart from his fundamental decision to trust God. We should all learn from and emulate that!
I deal with suffering constantly, in my own life and in the lives of those around me, so I need to keep this in sharp focus. I find I quote John 16:33 as often, or more often, than any other verse in the Bible: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Andrae Crouch’s song, Through it All, is as true a song as I think I’ve ever sung. The problem is, so many people don’t respond to the issues in their lives the way Job did. They accuse God of all sorts of things and close their eyes and ears to what He is trying to teach them, missing countless blessings in the process. I have learned, through my own 65 years and through watching others, that whether we will have troubles in life is not an option; it is strictly a matter of what we will do with those troubles, how we will respond to them. That’s why Jesus’ words are so important. I have learned from experience that the Bible is true. (Surprise! – not) When we fix our hearts on Christ we can have peace and joy, and all the other fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) even in the middle of our troubles. The difficulty for me as a pastor and counselor is that many people don’t want to hear that. They feel they have a right to their misery! I have had people leave this church over that very point, along with the matter of our being responsible to forgive others so that we may receive forgiveness. (Matthew 6:14-15) I cannot force anyone to receive God’s grace, but I am called to extend it in all love and humility.
Father, You know the faces that came up as I was writing that. I ask Your grace and mercy for them so that they may be set free from the prisons they have built for themselves. May I be an effective channel of Your truth to all, so that in receiving Your truth they may be set free, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!