There once was a man named Job and he was no ordinary man because he loved God and was blessed because of it. This is the start of a magnificent tale involving a mans endurance of faith and love of God.
Job is a man of faith.
Faith doesn’t give us a promise of an easy life. It doesn’t make our problems go away. Not all of us prosper in this life. Yet, to sum up the words of author Phillip Yancy, there was a significant shift between the Old Testament and New about the cause of suffering. After Jesus’ death, the family of faith started to put the emphasis on “What is the Lord doing?” versus “What have I done?” Suffering is a part of this life. The writers of the New Testament saw it as a way to share in more of Christ, instead of trying to figure out where someone went wrong.
In reading Job, it is clear to me that he was not only a man of faith, but a man of faith. When hardship comes, he didn’t hide behind religiosity or give into the arguments of his friends. He didn’t blame himself, although his friends do. He doggedly believed in his innocence and while God allowed this misery to fall on him, he believed there was a good reason for it.
He never gets that reason. Often when our own times of testing come, we never get an answer either.
I don’t know the ultimate reason why my daughter got cancer. I know a lot of miraculous, only-God things came out of it, but I don’t know why He allowed it to happen. I haven’t led a perfect life, I still don’t. But from the moment we heard “malignant, aggressive tumor,” we never suspected it was our fault. There are people who still put the blame for things like that squarely on their own heads (or the heads of others.)
I won’t discount that sometimes bad stuff is a result of our own wrong choices or because we are victims of a fallen nature. But I believe that not everything bad is because God is into punishment punishing. I’ve often wondered if the real lesson in suffering, self-inflicted or random, is simply an open door to experience more of His presence.
Our challenge, as we walk through this book and its commentary on fear, is to heed the wisdom of Joshua Abraham Heschel when he says,
I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all.
There is wonder coming. God is about to do amazing things in our lives. We only have to work to see it. Let’s prepare today for an experience of honesty and a reawakening of authentic faith. Let’s ask to meet God in the verses to come. But we don’t have to be afraid of what is coming. We can be prepared for struggle because we know it will bring growth. That growth allows us to work out our faith with fear and trembling, all in according to God’s mysterious work in us.
Ask the Lord to open your eyes to the wonder of His word and to keep you open to the work He is doing, even when things get hard.
So, through the difficult times I find myself reading Job. The story reminds me to be strong in faith seeking counsel with friends and God, but never to turn from the latter. It is a story that reminds me that our lives must be full of success and failure. It is part of the human experience that tests our strength and faith. I tend to be like Job. Looking over the events of my life and thanking Him for all that I have and what has occurred. Be like Job, strong in faith and human spirit.