And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
There is so much to learn from reading the book of Job. It is a book rich with beautiful truth and teaching from God our creator. I don’t know about you, but God so beautifully leads me and teaches me what I need to learn. If you haven’t sat down and read through the book of Job thoughtfully I encourage you to do so, either now or after you finish reading this. If you’ve never read it, read the first chapter now before continuing to read this post.
Lesson 1: Satan wants to destroy the servants of The Lord: We must be aware of this and prepared.
What was so special about Job that Satan wanted to destroy him so badly? Job 1:7-8 says “The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
Job was described by God as His servant, blameless, upright, a man who feared God and turned from evil. As far as Satan was concerned, the only reason this was the case was because of all the good that God had done for Job. Let’s think on this for a minute. It’s easy to appear a faithful servant when all is well and going your way. What happens when circumstances shift? Satan was convinced that in this case Job would curse God. He was trying to prove God’s Word wrong. Is this not his goal in everything? 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan wanted to devour Job and he wants to do the same to me and you. If you don’t truly love God for who He is, but instead for what you think loving Him can do for you, when the attack comes there’s a good chance you will reject God. The only hope we have when difficulty comes is to fall before our God and worship. Do you do this?
Lesson number 2: God does great work in our moments of darkness and despair.
Satan is always plotting and scheming against the servants of the Lord. Why? His goal is to utterly destroy us. If he can’t kill us, he wants nothing more than to bring us to a place of deep darkness and despair, with the ultimate goal of our rejection of God. What he doesn’t realize? For a faithful servant of the Lord God, places of deep despair are where God does the greatest work. This is where our faith is tried by fire, proven true. This is where our hearts and character are shaped and molded. Where we become complete, lacking nothing. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside” (Job 23:10-11). Job understood this truth about suffering. Despite his pain he knew the value and beauty of what he was enduring. It has been in my deepest places of despair that I have truly felt the depth of God’s love for me. Don’t fear those places, embrace them. If you are truly a servant of God, seeking to be blameless and upright, living in the fear of the Lord, as Job was, expect this to happen. 1 Peter 1: 6-7 says “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Our suffering proves our faith and strengthens our dependence on God our creator. Is there anything more valuable than this? This is exactly what Job’s suffering did.
God recently healed me of something I suffered from for all my life (not a physical ailment, a psychological one). I was blown away, but I also questioned Him on why He allowed me to suffer for so long. I realized that in my daily suffering I always chose to go to Him for help and comfort. He ALWAYS showed up and was there for me. Had it not been for that suffering I’m not sure what my connection with God would be like. When I realized this I felt such love from God my Faithful Father and gratitude for the suffering I had endured. I wouldn’t go back and change it for anything. The depth of closeness I have with God and the realization that in my suffering I chose to go to Him for comfort is a priceless gift. Who or what do you turn to in your suffering? Turn to the great comforter and it will transform your life.
Lesson number 3: God does not owe me anything! I am God’s created servant.
A few months ago I felt very led to read Job. I stood at the counter for over and hour reading and reading, writing note after note, seeing truths I had previously overlooked. God was teaching me something very important, as He always does so faithfully. He was reminding me of the valuable truth that He does not owe me anything. The sooner I can embrace this truth the better. Job understood this, which is why the story went the way that it did. Please don’t misunderstand, God has good things for us because He wants to, not because He has to, or because we deserve it. Not only that, we are often incapable of recognizing His good over our own idea of good. To understand this truth and live in it is to live in a true place of gratitude.
After Job lost everything the first thing he did was worship. He said, shall I accept good from God and not adversity? Despite the depth of agony and despair Job felt, he refused to curse God. Why? Job knew that God did not owe him anything. He knew that God even had the right to take everything from him. Job had an accurate and truthful understanding of who God was and of his place as God’s created servant. Had his view been flawed, perhaps had he believed the lie that God owed him, he might have cursed God. Do you have an accurate understanding of God? If you believe God owes you something it might be hard to accept trials and difficulty in life and remain faithful to God. Let me be clear, as with Job, God wants to bless His children and He does in His perfect way, but He does not owe that to us, and He certainly does not prevent us from facing difficulty.
Lesson number 4: Pain and Suffering (even to the point of suicidal thinking) is not a sin!
Job was in such darkness he wanted God to take his very life. Job 6:8-9 says “Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfill my hope, that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!” Job was suicidal in his despair. Did you know this? A man who God himself called upright and blameless struggled with thoughts and desires of death. If this is you, you are not alone. This is not unforgivable or something to be ashamed of. These types of thoughts and feelings reveal that you are going through pain and suffering, as Job and so many other Biblical men and women did as well. Take comfort in knowing God understands your pain and loves you. Seek out a true comforter to mourn with you and walk with you through your despair to the other side. Job was not silent in his despair, rather he honestly cried out to God. God wants us to share our deepest places of pain with Him, including thoughts as painful as wanting to die. Whoever needs to hear this right now, don’t keep this to yourself. Go to God and others you trust and receive comfort.
Lesson number 5: We are called to be good comforters.
Often times when we come across someone in despair we cause them more harm than good. We are so uncomfortable with pain and suffering that we can’t just sit and mourn with others. Job’s friends made a decent effort to comfort him at first, but they quickly turned to breaking his spirit. Job called his friends miserable comforters. I believe there are some things that make for a miserable comforter. An unwillingness to address and heal from your own pain, (check out my post on healing from pain here), a lack of discernment, and self-righteous arrogance. God has called us to be comforters. Let’s start taking that calling more seriously. If you feel uncomfortable sitting with someone in their suffering it could be because you are just not used to it and you need to do it. Or maybe you are selfish and don’t want to. It’s not a pleasant or comfortable thing, and selfishly we might avoid it. I really believe this is sinful and unchristlike. How many people did Jesus seek out in their suffering? This is why He healed so many! Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted and suffering, not to hang out with those who were well and without pain. That would have been easy, and Jesus came to do the hard things. Romans tells us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. When is the last time you wept with someone who was suffering? Maybe you are unable to comfort those who suffer because you have not faced your own suffering. When we don’t embrace our suffering and receive comfort ourselves we are not capable of comforting others. Any of these reasons could be why Job’s friends were such miserable comforters. We must learn to embrace our suffering and receive comfort so that we can become good comforters.
The following passage makes it abundantly clear that as followers of Christ we are called to suffer and receive comfort, and to offer comfort to those who suffer as well. Paul viewed his suffering and affliction as a gift to be used to benefit others. I have faced much suffering in my life and have received comfort and healing. I once told God that I needed Him to use my suffering and healing to help others or else it would have been for nothing but pain. He answered that prayer in quite a powerful way. There are days when I am sitting with someone who is suffering as I did, and it is heavy and difficult to carry, sometimes I even think of how much easier it would be not to do it. But watching someone in pain heal and receive comfort is one of the most beautiful gifts. To keep this to ourselves is to ignore the very calling of God on all believers.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Final note: If you haven’t healed from your suffering I urge you to do so, There is ALWAYS comfort in the Lord. If you don’t have a person to comfort you know that truth. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). If you aren’t doing so, I urge you to seek someone out who you know is hurting and comfort them. Don’t try to fix it, don’t tell them what they are doing wrong or not doing. Sit with them, listen to them, weep with them, be what they need you to be. Allow the Spirit of God that is in you to bring supernatural comfort to those who are hurting around you. As you do this you will begin to see people as Jesus did, and you will be transformed.