Years ago I was taking a psychology class and for some forgotten reason I used Psalm 70 as the text for a song I used as my presentation. This was not a Christian college, though the name was Saint Leo College, and certainly not a Christian class, but it was my rogue attempt at evangelism.
O Lord to my rescue,
O Lord to my help make haste.
For the next week I’ll be exploring Job. The timing of this quick study is somewhat apropos as worldly challenges surround our family. Immediately, I’m humbled by the small difficulties we face and honestly, I’m so far from being as worthy as Job was that to compare my challenges with his is ridiculous! That confession made, Job begins.
Job – How to Be Angry
The story of Job begins in a very unusual way, a heavenly staff meeting where God prompts Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” (Job 1:8). Satan makes the case that were God to remove the hedge of protection from around Job, his household and all his possession, Job would not be such a fine example. In Satan’s mind, “stuff” is what Job is all about.
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Job 1:12
The first observation is this: God puts everything Job has in Satan’s power and his immediate response is to destroy it all. Satan’s craft is destruction, his skill is creatively taking from others. Let that sink in (I’m really talking to myself!).
In 7 verses Job goes from a happy father of 10 children with great wealth to poor and childless. Tragedy upon tragedy greet Job this day. Job’s response:
“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
Job refuses to curse God, quite the contrary, but Satan is not finished.
The next staff meeting, Satan reappears and God once again asks him, “Have you considered my servant Job?” (Job 2:3). This time God adds, “and he still maintains his integrity…” Satan is fired up (so to speak) and enticed God to give him more leeway: “A man will give all he has for his own life…strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” (Job 2:4-5)
God agrees with the caveat that he must spare Job’s life, so Satan gets to work. Painful sores erupt from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. As he sits in the ashes scraping his sores, his wife provokes him: “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job’s reply needs to be engraved in stone and placed about 12 inches in front of my face:
“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job 2:10
Job refuses to sin. I’m ashamed to admit I have faltered for far less.
Job’s Friends: Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar
Enter the counsel of Job’s friends. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar set out from their homes to find Job and comfort him. When they connect, they sat with him for an entire week without saying a word. I suppose they were caught between the place where you don’t know what to say and constructing an appropriate response. The week of silence is broken by Job:
“May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!'” Job 3:3
Job curses the day he was born, he quite verbally and unashamedly cries out for his present misery:
For sighing has become my daily food;
my groans pour out like water.
What I feared has come upon me;
what I dreaded has happened to me.
I have no peace, no quietness;
I have no rest, but only turmoil. Job 3:24-26
In my mind, Job has every right to whine and complain. The tragedy that has fallen on his family is like a tsunami that crashes on the shore and wipes out everything. Go ahead Job, let it out, your friends are there to comfort you, right? Hmmm…we’ll see in the following back and forth of discourses.
Lord, I read these words and know that I have spoken harsh words for the present difficulties that bite me deeply. Help me to learn from Job, to know without doubt that the things of this world are only temporary. Help me to keep my eyes on you as Satan does his best to take me down. And when he wins the battle of the day, comfort me with the assurance that you have already won the war. But far more than for my own pitiful reaction, Lord, help me to be a comfort to others, to say the right words or to say nothing at all. And may you be honored through it all.