The Patience of Job and the Goodness of God
It is a difficult thing to lose your earthly possessions. Some wealthy men have been driven to total despair when they lost it all. But Job acknowledged that the Lord gives and takes away, and then bowed to worship.
The pain of losing a child can seem to be unbearable; Job lost ten at one time but still he blessed the name of the Lord.
His body was covered with boils and his wife suggested that he curse God and die but Job replied, “shall we receive good at the hand God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:10). What was the testimony concerning Job’s response to these deep trials? “In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” God was pleased with Job’s words and actions and would have us take note of it. James 5:11 says, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
God had a purpose in the sufferings of his faithful servant. While someone might think, “Those troubles came from Satan, God had nothing to do with it,” the fact is that it was God who brought up Job’s name when he was having a conversation with Satan. He asked, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”(1:8). Satan assumed that the only reason for serving God was for the material benefit that might be gained and reasoned that if all those blessings were taken away he would curse God to his face. Satan was then given permission to bring these afflictions on Job. Do you think God was surprised that bringing up Job’s name would lead to all this? If you believe God knows all things you believe he is never surprised.
Job didn’t know his experience would be referred to in the book of James as an example of patience, but God did.
God was certainly involved and Job recognized it. He said, “The hand of God hath touched me” (Job 19:21). What a difference it makes when God’s sovereignty is acknowledged! To think that afflictions are controlled by fate, or that a lot of suffering has come my way because I am unlucky provides no comfort at all. But to believe that God is on the throne, working all things according to the counsel of his will to his glory and for the good of his people, gives hope in the darkest of times.
Job passed through some terribly dark days. There were many things he could not understand and questions to which he could not find an answer; but in spite of his wife’s suggestion to do so, he never gave up on God. He said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…”(Job 13:15).
He knew that God had a purpose in what was affecting him so deeply.
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come for as gold”(Job 23:8-10). The deep hurt of trials can be difficult enough but when your struggle in spiritual darkness at the same time the pain just won’t go away. Job cries out, “I went forward and backward but could not find him.” Have you been there? You tried to pray but had to say with Jeremiah it seemed your prayers were shut out? You turned to the scriptures for comfort but no text seemed to meet your need at that hour?
What benefit could possibly spring from such a difficult season? For one thing it gives you a deep sense of your own weakness and of your complete dependence on the Lord to provide the strength and courage you need.
Fluffy platitudes don’t help in a time like this. You need more than a positive mental attitude, you need divine help. Jeremiah felt he had hit rock bottom in such a time. He said, “My hope is perished from the Lord.” But just as he reached the point of despair he remembered something. He remembered, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). What a difference that makes when you stop and recall that is only by the mercies of God that you have made it thus far and his compassions are new every morning! The circumstances may not have changed. The trouble has not diminished but you have a different outlook when you are totally surrendered to God’s sovereign work in your life.
Job could look ahead and say, “I shall come forth as gold.” James 1:1-4 reveals that we can count it joy when testings come because God is working through them to bring us to a greater level of spiritual maturity and therefore God’s name will be honored. So we are bidden to consider the patience of Job. Many look for the escape hatch when troubles come. The attitude of many becomes, “I will do anything to end my pain and put this unhappiness behind me.” Yet here are God’s instructions: “Let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing”(James 1:4).
God is interested in making something out of his children. It is his design to conform us to the image of Christ and, while that will not be perfected until the resurrection, it is in progress now.
There is usually far more dross to be consumed than what we have recognized, and so the Lord puts us in the fire to consume it and brings us out having shown us the absolute necessity of walking by faith, trusting him and not leaning on our own schemes. Not only did Job learn more about his weakness and God’s greatness, but God’s name was greatly honored in it all. Job was unaware of the conversation that God had with Satan. He was not aware of what God expected him to display by his commitment to God in this time of great loss. He was unaware of the significance of the testimony given before men and devils—a testimony that still inspires believers today—but God knew all the details and was very much at work in his servant’s life. When God finished speaking, Job acknowledged God’s great authority and power and his own unworthiness. The Lord condemned the speeches of Eliphaz and his friends but said that he accepted Job. “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning”(40:12).
Though Job suffered much, he was greatly blessed and God’s name was honored through his experience.
A failure to recognize God’s sovereignty in the trials we face leaves one in a state of confusion and hopelessness. Sometimes the question is asked, “Why isn’t God doing something?” The fact is God is always doing something. He is on the throne, he is ruling and reigning, he is accomplishing his purposes. Even when it appears God is doing nothing and one is struggling with the thought, “If God loves me why did he allow this event to touch my life?” God does in fact love his children and has promised to give grace in that hour of need. We often fail to see the good that God is bringing out of what appears to be chaos to us, but we can believe his promises even when our emotions do not for the moment cooperate.