Sep 30, 2008, 8:07 AM
"Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?" (Job 4:7)
Joseph's tests and trials pale before that of Job whom we are told "...was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil." (Job 1:1) Though Job was a righteous man he was also very rich by the standards then as it would have been now. "He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants." (Job 1:2-3) In the whole of Palestine none could rival his wealth.
Then one day, he lost everything, all his possessions. The Sabeans had attacked his herds of oxen and donkeys and had taken them away after killing the servants. Just as he was receiving that report and had not quite digested it, another report came that "The fire of God fell on his sheep and burned up the sheep and the servants." (verse 16) As if that was not already bad news enough, Job on the same spot received news that the Chaldeans had raided and stole all his camels and had killed the servants as well. The final blow came when they broke the news to him that his sons and daughters were involved in an accident. A violent storm had erupted and the house where they had been "feasting and drinking wine" had collapsed on them. Not a single soul was spared. For Job troubles did not just rain, they poured.
Put yourself in Job's shoes and imagine what terrible and hopeless mood that could have put you in. Yet, instead of turning his back on God, Job comforted himself thus: "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." (Job 1:21) In his rather perturbed state, Job tore his clothes and shaved his head and mourned his loss - the only outward manifestation of his woes.
Job's tests and trials did not end there, having lost all his property; he became afflicted "with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head." (Job 2:7) It was so terrible that his wife wondered why Job would have had to go through all that hardship because of his love of God. "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die?" (Job 2:9) Job's sober reply to his wife was "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (verse 10)
When did it ever look so bleak and you stuck on, relentlessly or taken everything so calmly? How often do we panic and break down unable to take it anymore. Oh what humiliation and embarrassment! How often under similar circumstances would we not have considered suicide as an honourable exit in the face of total bankruptcy? How often do we point a finger at God for standing idly by? Job's troubles seemed endless when to crown it all, his friends accused him of 'secret sin' as the cause of his affliction.
The question then is why should a righteous man, a man of God be treated in this way? Why wouldn't his God protect him from all danger and shame? The answer is straightforward. God permitted it to show that suffering was not always the result of sin. God permitted for Job to be afflicted not so much as to test his faith than to showcase Job's confidence in Jehovah and as his faithful servant. It was clear that Job did not worship God for what he could get from him as is the case these days.
In spite of his plight, he still remained faithful to God. Job, a devout man, believed God was in charge even though he hadn't the faintest inkling that God was behind it all. God had permitted Satan to strike Job without killing him; certain that nothing but death would have dented Job's zeal for him.Job's troubles became an opportunity for him to know and understood God better as he asked himself some fundamental questions only to confirm in the end. "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;..." (Job 19:25-26) In times of trouble let us stick even closer to our God, who is our only hope.