The book of Job is intriguing because in some ways the life of Job parallels ours. Job suffered in relationships, personal health and material things – these are the areas that most of us have troubles in. It might be the loss of a job, the end of a marriage or being down with a terminal disease; that’s when people show up and start telling exactly what is wrong with you and why you deserve the suffering.
Most of the time, these people would justify their arguments with the Word of God, they would theorise and rigidly quotes Scriptures. However, they forget mercy and love. The very words they say are filled with judgement, bigotry and a lack of empathy.
- Resist the urge to judge people when something goes wrong with them
Job called his friends “miserable comforters”. The moment something goes wrong in our lives, our “friends” show up and they start lecturing on what we did or didn’t do and proceed to tell us exactly what we must do to get out of the fix we have somehow put ourselves in.
As children of God, it’s easy to give clichéd answers which have no impact whatsoever on the troubles in that person’s life. To avoid being miserable comforters like Job’s friends, I think the best we can do is just be a friend (in the real sense of the Word), be there for that person and be whoever they need at any point in time.
- We can and should confront our loved ones when they act contrary to who they are
All I’ve ever heard about Job’s wife were negative, she has been placed in the same category as Jezebel, the woman that told her husband to deny his God and die. Early Christian theologian St. Augustine called her “The Devil’s Accomplice” while John Calvin said she was “An Instrument of Satan” and it has been inferred by some that she instead of encouraging him, she was thoughtless and did not offer him compassion.
This woman has been maligned. We forget that she was his wife hence the mother of the children that died and that she too just became penniless and it was her husband that was covered in boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. This woman was in pain and spoke out of grief. Just like Jesus said when the woman that was caught in adultery was brought to him, let me ask you – have you never said something totally stupid out of grief and pain; some of us have questioned the very existence of God when in pain.
I love the response that Job gave her,
“You speak as one of the impious and foolish women would speak. What? Shall we accept [only] good at the hand of God and shall we not accept [also] misfortune and what is of a bad nature?”
In other words, you are speaking like someone else, like a foolish woman – this is not you. And it is important to note that when God rebuked Job’s friends, He did not rebuke this woman that suffered so much too.
When next someone says something that seems stupid to you, try to understand why and confront in love.
- Wisdom is not just for the old and experienced
Elihu was younger than the other friends of Job and he did not say anything up until the 32nd chapter because he thought those older than him should have the floor. He initially kept quiet because of his age and experience, but when he could not take it anymore, he spoke up. He rebuked Job for justifying himself, he rebuked Job’s three friends for their condemnatory words and spoke at length on God’s greatness and sovereignty.
Wisdom is not a function of age and experience. True wisdom is a function of the work of the Holy Spirit in man, that’s why I love the eighth verse “but I see I was wrong—it’s God’s Spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty One, that makes wise human insight possible.”
Apostle Paul admonished Timothy not to allow anyone despise his youth. The lesson here is twofold, first we must not hold back on speaking the truth because of youth and the second is that we must never allow ourselves get to the point where we become know-it-alls and then believe that people that are younger than us (or less experienced) cannot dispense wisdom.
- We know nothing beyond what God has revealed
When God chose to ask Job questions, the man just simply repented because he could no longer claim righteousness or knowledge before God. As humans, we are limited by time, space and knowledge, we cannot know beyond what has been revealed to us. This lack of complete knowledge ought to drive us to total dependence on the God that has all knowledge and is able to go through time and is not hindered by space. It is important to trust God completely and have faith in whatever He is doing because ultimately He would come through for His own.
- In a time of patriarchy, the female children were mentioned by name and given an inheritance
Earlier in the book of Job, we see Job making sacrifices only for his sons but by the last chapter we see a man that had learned the dignity in every human being. In a time when women were treated as second-class citizens, Job gave his daughters an inheritance among their brothers.
Unlike some Christian literature that I have read, women are not God’s afterthought and are not cast into the role of servants or slaves for men. We need to go back to beginning where we have a witness – “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The dominion mandate in Genesis 1:28 was given to both male and female. I believe it is high time we returned to the original design.
God is present within us and He is with us even in our sufferings. It is a fact that we live in an imperfect world but it is also a fact that God has promised to never leave us or forsake us even in our darkest hour. God is there with you, He will be with you when you pass through the waters and through the fire.
Have you ever experienced a life-changing situation that you thought would kill you? Please share with us in the comments or here