Job 1:1-2:10; 38:1-3; 42:1-5
Let’s face it – sometimes life just plain sucks; it draws all the energy and strength out of us as we work hard at just trying to survive. Little Annie was right: “It’s a hard knock life.” Just ask Job.
By all accounts, Job was as righteous as they come – blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil, the greatest man among the people of the East. His life and family would not be the subject of reality TV – too boring and uneventful. They might, however, be pictured in Guideposts, or Money Magazine, as the model way to live life. Life was good, grand, and picture perfect.
Then came the great encounter. Satan and God made Job the pawn in their battle for supremacy and Job suffered and searched. And in his searching he was put on hold and asked to wait. From his life we can gain some valuable insight.
First of all, when life sucks remember THE ROLE AND IMPACT OF SATAN in our lives. He is called here, “the Satan.” He is the one who represents the power at work against God; he is the antagonist, the accuser of the people of God. Satan is incapable of defeating God in a head to head encounter. All he can do is go after God’s people on earth. He is the chief mischief-maker, an ambassador at large for the kingdom of evil. Just consider the names given to him throughout the Bible: Satan, devil, prince, god of this world, liar and the father of lies, dragon, destroyer, adversary, murderer, evil one, tempter, accuser, and thief. His works includes tempting godly people, perverting Scripture, opposing God’s works, hindering the gospel, defiling good works, blinding multitudes to the truth, endeavoring to promote damage or destroy faith, and creating doubt and denial.
When it comes to Job’s life, we are told Satan comes to God after roaming the earth, going back and forth, searching for someone to test and trip. AS THE TEMPTER HE SEEKS TO ALIENATE HUMANS FROM GOD. AS THE ACCUSER AND LIAR HE SEEKS TO ALIENATE GOD FROM HUMANS. His all consuming passion is to drive and irreparable wedge between them, one that cannot be reconciled.
So it’s not surprising to hear his charge in 1:9: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” He wants the opportunity to prove his theory that no one has faith for nothing. People have faith in God because they want or expect something in return. No one has faith simply to have faith.
Think about it. Why do you have faith? Why do you believe in God and Jesus Christ? Why do you try to live a Christian life? Is it for material reward? For approval? Prestige? Standing in the community or workplace? Are you good so God will be good to you in return? After all, even Ps. 1 says that if we plant ourselves in God we will be rewarded. The real question is, DO WE LOVE AND SERVE GOD FOR HIS SAKE?
when life sucks remember some TRUTHS ABOUT SATAN. Satan tells God that he has been roaming the earth and wants to consider and target Job. Peter later wrote about that SATAN ROAMS AND PROWLS THE EARTH looking for his victims. The truth is he’s on the prowl for you right now, waiting for the opportunity to make you his target.
Yet it is God who suggest Job as a target. Yet notice: “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands…’ (1:12) & ‘Very well, then, he is in your hands…’ (2:6) SATAN HAS TO HAVE PERMISSION to attack God’s people. It’s reminiscent of Jesus saying to Peter, “Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat…” Satan doesn’t think it through. God could not lose! God holds even this mighty prince of evil in check.
So let’s look more closely at THE ROLE AND IMPACT OF GOD in our lives. (1:8-9) “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” GOD WHO SETS UP THE ENCOUNTER. It is God who is responsible for what happens to Job. God uses Job. God sets Job up and uses him because He knows Job is righteous and will not succumb to the wiles of Satan. God knows that Job will defeat and frustrate Satan. So God said to Satan, “I believe in Job; I have faith in him. Behold him! He will pass any test!” So Satan challenges God to allow just such a test and God grants permission. This test is not, from
God’s perspective, to trip Job or to discover if he really has faith – it is
rather an opportunity for God’s faith in Job to be vindicated.
Listen again: “
Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’ (1:12) & ‘Very well, then, he is in your hands but you must spare his life.’ (2:6) We learn that GOD SETS BOUNDARIES ON SATAN’S ATTACKS. I love how C. S. Lewis phrases it: God exploits evil. Only God can exploit evil. Just remember the cross upon which Jesus died. It was meant to be evil, cruel, sinful, deadly; yet when exploited by God it redeemed the world! So Satan may make his moves in the game of life, but he always plays on God’s checker board and always plays within God’s boundaries. God holds all the cards. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Rom. 8:28)
So when life sucks and draws out all your energy and strength, remember that perhaps God set you up. What do you think Satan would attack in your life? What would he go after? What would he view as your Achilles heel? How long has it been since you’ve made a friendly agreement with someone you know and trust? No written contracts, no dotting of the i’s or crossing of the t’s. You just made an agreement and, in good faith, shook hands. In our litigious society it doesn’t happen very often anymore, does it? To do so requires knowing someone intimately and trusting him or her fully. This is just how God works with us. WHEN LIFE SUCKS, GOD BARGAINS ON US IN GOOD FAITH because He knows we will come forth as gold.
But Job knew none of this. He didn’t know he was anyone’s target. He didn’t know God and Satan had a conversation about him. He didn’t know he was even in, let alone the star of, the book of Job. All he knew was that in the matter of a few minutes his life changed drastically – for the worse. And God was, to his ears, silent during it all. So Job is truly an innocent victim of a divine battle and challenge.
When life sucks, it’s really A LESSON ON WAITING FOR GOD. God speaks with Satan in chapters 1 and 2; then He does not speak not again until chapter 38. As Dr. Robert Smith, Jr. pointed out, for 35 chapters God says absolutely nothing.(i) God put Job on hold. How long will you wait for God? Perhaps you’re in chapter 30 – still 5 chapters left in your saga, 5 more chapters before there’s breakthrough in that relationship; 5 more chapters before the job changes. Perhaps you’re only in chapter 5 – 30 more chapters before the prodigal son or daughter comes home; 30 more chapters before God renews your church; 30 more chapters before the answers come; 30 more chapters before the healing occurs; 30 more chapters before God moves you from viewing your catastrophe as an accident to understanding it as an issue of providence. All Job had was his friends, who sought to accuse him – for 35 chapters. Life just plain sucks.
Finally, God speaks. And what does God say? (38:1f.) “Be quiet and listen! Who do you think you are?” God is not about to tell Job everything he wanted to know and dared to ask – nor will He tell us. All God will do is come and speak to us – yet that is all we need. We may never understand the ways of God; we may always be in the dark. But we can be sure that we will be in fellowship with Him even while in the dark. For us, as for Job, FAITH IS LEARNING TO TRUST GOD IN THE DARK. So you’ve waited to hear God speak; but when He speaks, you don’t like what you hear. It seems like non-answers. God never does let Job know why things happened as they did. He just reminds Job that He is in charge and that He trusts Job. And that’s all Job needed to hear. It’s all we need to hear. God is shaping us to live in trust.
So Job gained not answers but the ability to live, by grace, with his questions and his faith. He discovered that God was, indeed, not the enemy but instead was the vulnerable One who will be with us in our times of suffering. So we may not see God – but He sees us. We may not understand God – but He understands us. We may not hear God – but He hears us. We may lose our grip on God – but He always holds his grip on us. What would you do if you lost all your possessions, your family, your health? What would you be like? To what would you cling? Would you confidently bare your soul to God? Would you rely on the wisdom and presence of God?
Still think it’s unfair? Remember that ANOTHER FOUGHT THE BATTLE BEFORE US – AND WON! Jesus, too, had to wait. He waited and fought on a wilderness mountain when confronted by Satan – and won. He waited and fought it in a Gethsemane garden when facing trial, torture, and death – and won. He waited and fought it on a Calvary hill while dying on a cross – and won. He waited and fought it in the tomb – and won. In Jesus Christ God experienced the pain of evil and paid the price of evil. And, as Paul wrote, He who did not spare his own Son will give us all things with Him! We, too, shall win! Through the Holy Spirit He has placed within us the resurrection power of Jesus. As the Apostle John put it, “…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” So who shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? No one – nothing! Never – ever!
So JOB MODELS FOR US AN ATTITUDE OF FAITH. (1:20-22) “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.’ Job, even with his limited understanding of the suffering in his life, ADOPTS AN ATTITUDE OF WORSHIP. Wow! That is faith! We cannot choose what happens to us but we can choose how we react to it. It’s not a matter of what life brings to us in her hands but what we bring to life in ours that counts.
Worship enabled Job to ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF ACCEPTANCE. Though covered with terrible soars from the soles of his feet to the top of his head Job could say, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (2:10) Even though “IT IS EASIER TO LOWER OUR VIEW OF GOD THAN TO RAISE OUR FAITH”, Job chose to heighten his faith. Over and over he did so. He demanded a hearing from God; he simply wanted to be heard and understood – vindicated. And he wanted desperately to understand God. He knew God would hear and answer him.
Through his acceptance Job could ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF SURRENDER. (42:6) “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Having seen God for who He was he had now seen himself for who he was. “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” Once in the presence of God, having an answer was no longer essential.