I read the book of Job again this week. It’s not a book I go back to often. I prefer things that make me feel good. Even when it comes to what movies I watch. I almost always choose comedy. When people ask why, I answer, “Life is sad enough, I don’t need anything to make me cry, I want something to make me laugh!” I do love laughing. But the truth is, there’s much to be learned from the crying parts.
Of course I read the entire Bible, but I don’t usually choose to camp out in Job. This week I saw something I hadn’t realized before.
If you know the story…
You know it starts out with a description of Job as a man of perfect integrity with wealth and a wonderful life. Chapter one verse six says there was a meeting in heaven, and the devil attended. And God asked the devil, “Have you considered my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.” And then the story gets kind of crazy. The devil tells God that the only reason Job is so committed is because he is so blessed. And then God tells him he can go after him!
Yeah, and we then see Job lose everything he has, his children, his wealth, his health. All of it. We see his friends come to “comfort” him and end up condemning him. And we see a young man, moved by the Holy Spirit, bring some wisdom to the situation. And then we see God Himself show up and question Job.
Job was angry.
He was frustrated and confused. He lashed out at God. He stated his case. Proved his righteousness. Questioned God. But then we see his moment of revelation. We see him humbled. We see repentance and obedience, and those two things, once again, bring great blessing over his life. The story ends with Job being blessed far more than he was when the story began.
In the past I would read this and just accept that, for some reason, Jobs life was turned upside down because of a crazy conversation between God and the devil. But this week I saw it differently.
Hear me out.
Look again at God’s question to the devil in the first chapter. “Have you considered my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.” God knows all things. He knew Jobs heart and he knew the devil’s response before he spoke it. God was baiting Satan. He didn’t “accidentally” point Job out to him. He did it knowing Job had the cancer of self righteousness inside of him. He knew the enemy would take the bait and go after Job. He also knew that the affliction would work as a refining fire and burn out of Job anything that shouldn’t be there.
But how do we know that?
Let’s look back to the scriptures for an answer.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.Genesis 50:30
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28
He takes every single difficulty, affliction, challenge and trial and uses them to work good inside of us. Jesus Himself said trouble will come, but He also said He overcame the world.
This revelation was such a comfort to me.
But it was. Because I realized that any trouble I may face in this life is not randomly allowed on the whim or changing mood of a God who controls my fate. No, the troubles I face are allowed by a God who sees the end from the beginning…a God who knows what sin-sickness I am hiding inside. Things I don’t even know are there. My life is in the hands of the God who loves me enough to die for me. So I can surrender to Him and allow the refiners fire to work out of me what will only harm me in the end. And in my repentance and obedience I find joy and blessing in abundance.
After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.Job 42:16-17