I have been reading the book of Job for my morning devotions. Job is a depressing book because Satan has his way with Job, despite Job being “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1). When God brags that Job is “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil,” Satan claims that Job is only good because God has given him so many good things. Satan takes away his crops, his flocks, his land, his servants, and his children. When Job continues to be blameless and upright, Satan takes away his health. Finally Job’s wife, in her grief and despair, leaves him.
I can’t imagine all those horrible things happening to one person. I can’t imagine God letting them happen to someone just because Satan makes a challenge. We have trials and sorrows in life, but I don’t think that God sends them to us on this kind of a whim.
Most depressing to me, in the book of Job, are the three “friends” that come to “comfort” Job. Their conclusion about his troubles: Job must have some unconfessed sin in his life or God would not be punishing him in this way. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Despite their eloquent arguments, however, Job continues to say that he has no unconfessed sins. Job challenges God to tell him why all these things have happened. He believes that God must answer him – that God owes him an explanation – and Job will not be silent until God speaks. The “friends” become angry and stop speaking to Job because Job is “righteous in his own eyes” (Job 32:1).
I have two thoughts about the book of Job after reading it for the last week. First, we are not Job. The premise of the book of Job is that he was righteous. He was right with God. When he sinned, he confessed it immediately. More importantly, he lived a life that was blameless and upright in God’s eyes. We are not blameless and upright in God’s eyes. I sin. In fact, I probably sinned several times today. I was impatient. I spoke negatively about someone. I do not always recognize my sins and I certainly do not confess them immediately. I often think I am blameless and upright and I know that I am frequently “righteous in my own eyes.” (I didn’t start this fight – you did! I was acting in all innocence when you attacked me! . . .) I am not Job so I have plenty of sins that I need to confess.
Second, God answered Job but it was not the answer Job expected or wanted. When God answered, it was to demand that Job remember that God is the all-powerful maker of creation, not some puppet to respond to the will of a human. I have always found God’s answer to Job unsatisfactory, but I find a lot of God’s answers unsatisfactory. I, too, need to remember who is God around here. It isn’t me (thank God)!
Whether good or bad things happen to us, God is God and refuses to fit into our narrow thinking and limited viewpoint. We are not righteous (unlike Job). Our only hope is in Jesus Christ who puts us right with God through his death and God’s grace. How can we accept blessings from God’s hands and not understand that there will be times when life is torn apart for us? We will not always understand why – but still we must be faithful. By faith we stand – by faith we are saved – by faith we are reconciled when we sin.