If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, you can read it here: Lessons from Job, Part 1. In Part 1 you’ll find an introduction to this series as well as a summary of the book of Job.
Lesson 1: Truly Upright and Blameless Followers of God Suffer Greatly
Both the narrator of Job and God himself affirm that Job was both blameless and upright (1:1, 1:8, 2:3). That Job was blameless means that no one could have rightly leveled a charge against Job. That he was upright means that he was honorable. No one could have rightly denied his moral integrity. Yet he suffered. Suffering is no respecter of morals.
More surprising than that, both the narrator of Job and God himself affirm that Job was a man who feared God and who turned away from evil (1:1, 1:8, 2:3). That Job walked closely with God is obvious. He knew God in a very deep way, and he lived his life accordingly. His whole life centered around God. He did everything he was supposed to. Yet he suffered. Knowing God deeply and living for him in no way guarantees an easy life. In fact, the very opposite is the case (see Acts 14:22).
What do we learn from these hard truths? Don’t follow God to escape pain. Jesus said that whoever does not take up his cross and follow him is not worthy of him. “Taking up your cross” is a euphemism for crucifixion. It is no easy thing to follow God or his Son. Don’t start down this road if you are not willing to finish (see Luke 14:28-33). Why do it then, you ask? Jesus is worth it. What I’ll gain by gaining Jesus is worth the loss of everything else I have and am, including my very life.
Paul said it this way: “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8). God followers suffer. Follow God anyway. God is worth it.
Lesson 2: God is the Active Agent in the Suffering of His People
Ultimately God caused Job to suffer. To assert that Satan caused Job to suffer and God merely allowed it to happen is to ignore key parts of the biblical narrative. First, God brought Job to Satan’s attention, not once but twice (1:8, 2:3). Clearly God was not passive in bringing about Job’s suffering. He designed it and ensured it was carried out accordingly. Like a dog on a short leash, Satan is completely beneath God’s sovereign hand. He does nothing without God’s approval.
Second, Satan is never mentioned after chapter two. At every point thereafter, Job, Job’s three friends, Elihu, and the narrator of Job attribute Job’s suffering directly to God. Job’s famous quote states, “The LORD gave, and the LORD [not Satan] has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (1:21). And Job was right.
This is even harder to swallow than lesson 1, yet it is inescapable. God took Job’s children. God took Job’s flocks. God took Job’s health. Regardless of whether that seems right to you or not, it is an undeniable conclusion from this book that God is sovereign, even over the most horrific circumstances. That, I hope, is a comfort. Behind the most bleak circumstances stands a God who, although mysterious and often times silent, is good and loves you enough to send Jesus to die for you.
Rest assured that whatever Satan may throw at you in order to destroy you, God in his sovereign will designed that very trial for your good and is being good to you in it. That’s how a Christian is able to count it all joy when he meets trials of various kinds (James 1:2). When Satan does something for evil, God does not merely co-opt it for good. He designed it for good before Satan even thought of it. In fact, God may have given Satan the idea, like he did with Job. He certainly had to give Satan permission.
May God’s sovereignty be sweet to you today.
Share Your Thoughts
1. How is it that God’s sovereignty over all things comforts us?
2. Where else in the Bible do you see God’s complete sovereignty over horrific situations?