Lessons from Job, Part 6

If you’d like to read Parts 1-5 of this series, you can do so here (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5). In Part 1 you’ll find an introduction to this series as well as a summary of the book of Job. Parts 2-5 each contain lessons from Job.

Lesson 9: Job’s First, Humble Response was Much Better Than His Later, Arrogant Response
I want to walk a fine line here. On the one hand, even when suffering people say really stupid things about themselves, their situation, or God, what they don’t need is for someone to take their words and use them to beat them over the head (see lesson 7). They need grace. On the other hand, in light of God’s response to Job in chapters 38-41 and Job’s subsequent humble repentance, it is clear that there is a right way and there is a wrong way to respond to suffering.

Job’s initial response to unthinkable suffering at God’s hand was this: “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (1:21). The narrator states, “In all this, Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (1:22). After a second round of suffering, Job declared, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” And again the narrator affirms, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (2:10). In the space of a very short time, however, Job began to call God’s actions into question and eventually accused him of being unjust. That is definitely not the right way to respond in the face of suffering.

Apart from a supernatural outpouring of God’s grace, a humble acceptance of God’s sovereign will in the face of suffering is an absolute impossibility, especially when it’s suffering on the magnitude of what Job experienced. Yet such a response is the right response. Any other response only shows man’s need to repent, just like Job had to do. And when you have to repent for responding badly in suffering, God is being gracious to you.

Lesson 10: God is the Hero in Every Story, Even in the Story of Your Suffering
Who was the hero of the book of Job? God was. It wasn’t Job. It wasn’t his friends. It wasn’t even Elihu, though I think he was on to something. God was the hero. He always is. A major theme of the book of Job and a very important lesson I think we can learn from it is that no mere mortal, no matter how upright and how just, deserves the praise that belongs only to God. No matter how much a person suffers and endures, God alone deserves the glory. Job was a good man, yet as I’ve tried to show previously, Job had some serious heart issues that rose to the surface as a result of his extreme suffering.

When you suffer, God will sustain you, but not in such a way that in the end you will be able to glory in your own strength or in your own righteousness. He will sustain you in spite of your imperfections. And he will sustain you such that he alone will be the hero. God is right and good in designing your suffering that way. He’s being good to you. Your being the hero wouldn’t satisfy the longings of your heart anyway.

Share Your Thoughts
1. What do you think caused Job’s outlook to change?
2. How have you seen God as the hero of your or another’s suffering?

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5 thoughts on “Lessons from Job, Part 6

  1. Saw the link in your comment on Piper’s FB status on Job. What a great series!

    I have endured much of late and Job has been a constant companion to me. Your insights are helpful and well-expressed.

    The balance between lessons 7 & 9 is particularly helpful. In addition to your comments on lesson 9 I would add that I think Job’s poor response after his friends arrive is one of the key divisions in the book – it is as if the good responses are simply an introduction to show us how godly Job is; he instinctively repsonds correctly. The good responses show us what kind of man he is – the poor responses show us how crushed a godly man can be. Which brings us back to lesson 7…

    You have done well here and I for one appreciate your efforts. A sincere thank you!

    • Dear Anthony,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts. I spent last November in the book of Job, and God was very gracious in allowing me that time and in teaching me some of these hard truths. God was preparing me for some trials of my own (though nothing on the scale of what Job faced!) that I have been facing these past few months. I’m glad to hear that the book of Job has been a rock under your feet like it has been under mine—and surely as it has been underneath the feet of so many who have gone before us. Praise God if these lessons have been helpful to you. There is no greater compliment I could receive than to know I’ve been an encouragement to someone else!

      I agree with your analysis that there seems to be a great division between Job’s initial responses and how he responds after his friends show up. Job’s tone changes drastically at that point. We see then how he is both righteous and a sinner. And so are we who cling to Jesus’ gospel today.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Eric

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