It seems all to easy to claim camaraderie with Job. I even had a friend who would weep openly at all his troubles and tell me that only thing that gave him comfort was when he thought about Job and how his own lot in life was similar.
It is true that Job had every possible disaster thrown at him in a short period of time. His wife even chastised him and kept ordering him to remember what he had done to make God so mad. His friends offered him no encouragement but only accusation and a demand that he come clean before God to finally settle his affairs.
If you didn’t read past that section you missed the most amazing thing about the triumphant story of Job. I’m not talking about the part where he gets back all his stuff. That’s almost incidental to the rest of the story.
A complete reading of Job will give you insight to the most privileged man in the Bible. If you recall the beginning of the story you might remember that the reason Job is attacked in the first place is because he is so esteemed by God.
Without hesitation, God knows that Job would never disrespect him no matter the circumstances. The enemy is actually jealous of Job and is sure that he can make him curse God.
I don’t know about you, but I long for the day when I could know I had garnered God’s ultimate trust! The next extraordinary part of this book is the fact that Job and God dialogue, person to person. Other areas of the Bible warn us that no one could ever look upon God because they would die. To the contrary, Job sits down and talks with God in an extended conversation: “I have heard of you by word of mouth but now my eye has seen you.” (Job 45:3) He is the only person recorded in the Bible to converse with God besides Moses and Jesus.
The conversation between Job and God is one of my favorite parts of the Bible. Job tells God that he doesn’t mind his recent adversity but is really depressed because he doesn’t know why his circumstances suddenly changed.
One of the points that God makes to Job is that there are things in force in the universe that we have no idea about. He points out that there is a bigger existence, a divine plan or order which is really impossible for one human to comprehend.
God owes none of us an explanation for anything. Yet He asks Job, “Who is this that obscures divine plans with words of ignorance?” (38:2) In further conversation He tells Job, “Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you tell me the answers!” (38:3)
The implication here is that if Job possesses enough understanding to explain the things of creation to God, then God will explain things to him!
God proceeds and offers a series of breathtaking questions:
“Were you there when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have an understanding. Who determined its size; do you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it? ….And who shut within doors the sea when it burst forth from the womb. When I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door. …Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place. … Have you entered into the sources of the sea or walked about in the depths of the abyss? … Tell me, if you know all: Which is the way to the dwelling place of light, and where is the abode of darkness. Out of whose womb comes the ice and who gives the hoarfrost its birth in the skies, … Who puts wisdom in the heart….?” (Job 38: 4-36)
Needless to say, Job is struck speechless. He then admits that he has questioned God once and then twice but no more. There is no human answer for the questions that are being asked, no matter how smart you are!
Job finally relents: “I have dealt with great things that I do not understand.” He apologizes and assumes the action of mourning, covering himself with dust and ashes. After his repentance Job is more than restored and lives another 140 years!
The story of Job is much more than a narrative about how God punishes. The story of Job is not about punishment at all. The story of Job is about relationship with God.
Job was a living example of what it is like to love God unconditionally. Nothing that happened to Job could induce him to curse or abandon God.
When you are faced with circumstances that you don’t understand, resist the temptation to blame God. Do your best to take your focus away from the immediate circumstances and seek God’s bigger picture. What are the blessings that you can’t see yet and how can the circumstance teach you that God is very, very close and he is anxious to talk?
Copyright © 2012, Kathryn M. Cunningham