In Job, here are at least two issues before us: First, why do good people suffer? Second, will a righteous person serve God for nothing? I believe Job more appropriately deals with the last of these two questions, and the answer, in Job’s case, is “yes.” Satan believed even a good man would abandon his goodness if trouble, with no end in sight, came upon him.
Satan has been right a lot of times in this matter, but as we shall see in this book, he was not right about Job.
In his misery, three friends come to sit with Job, and they are so overcome with grief at the sight of their friend’s plight that they sit in silence for three days. It’s the only thing they did right. Too often, faced with tragedy, we want to say something that will bring comfort – to find meaning in randomness, defend God’s lack of response. But in reality, what people need is a hug, a shoulder, care, love. Words, more often than not, just hurt – even unintentionally. If God didn’t speak to you personally to explain the unexplainable, don’t guess at it.
Why abandon Genesis for Job?
Job’s story occurs before the children of Israel, before the Exodus, and before the law given at Sinai. It’s during the days when heads of households operated as priests and offered sacrifices in behalf of their family members. We call this time the “patriarchal age.”
With Abraham, whom we meet in Genesis 12, we move into the story of Israel, so it’s best that we look at Job here.
I wonder how Israel felt about a man like Job. After all, he wasn’t one of them. You will never read his name in an Israelite genealogy. And yet, for all his whining, he is considered a great man, one who had the ear of the Lord.
Don’t miss the heaviness of the calamity that befell Job. Here’s a man who not only had it all, but who maintained a close relationship with God. Job also lost it all, including (in his own mind) his relationship with God in but a moment. Notice that when the bad news begins to come, the messengers who bring it do not even finish delivering the words before another messenger of bad news shows up. If, as the old saying goes, “when it rains, it pours,” Job was beaten with a hurricane.
While the flood of bad news crushes him, Job goes to God in worship and vows: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb; and naked I will die.”
Job never knew what hit him, but we know. Job’s troubles were the result of the Lord’s confidence and pride in a loyal member of humanity. When knocked down by a tsunami of troubles, remember that the Lord is faithful, and he may be taking delight in your faithfulness. The wrath of Satan is never more violent than in times like those.