“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Job 1:1
We’ve all been there…a diagnosis that threatens your life, or the life of a loved one…a telephone call about an accident where someone you know may not survive…a personal struggle that lies ahead, and you really don’t know if you’ll arrive okay on the other side. And so, as a Christ-follower, you pray. You humbly ask God to intervene. To spare you or someone close to you from the agony. You pray for healing, for deliverance, for safety, for a miracle.
Pain is something that you will have to endure at some point in your life. The God Who made you, Who is capable of wiping away that pain, Who you read about in the Bible and believe really wants the very best for you—that God that you are praying to about something tough—will He answer you in the affirmative? And if He does not, what does that mean? A God Who can clearly take away the pain, and He doesn’t. What are we to learn when God says no?
Trust God with the answer. Job is an interesting character. Throughout the book of his life, as God tests him with death, disease, trials and loss, he remains faithful. The book of Job chronologically in the Bible was probably written during the time of Genesis. This is important because the first book of the Bible teaches us so much about the very nature of God. He is Creator, all-powerful, all knowing, and holy. In Job we also learn that God not only has plans for individual lives, but that we often are operating not knowing all of the facts involved in our own existence.
Job wanted to be delivered from pain. But God initially said no. When Job asks questions of God, he is reminded that God views Job’s life from a different perspective. The testing Job is enduring is producing faithfulness in his life. God wants Job to trust Him with the answer he is given. For 36 chapters, Job and his peers argue as to the nature of the pain Job is enduring and the God that He serves. Then God answers Job directly: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know” (Job 38:4-5). Translation: My plans are much bigger than you can possibly grasp, Job.
“Then Job answered the LORD and said, ‘I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:2-3. Yes God, Job replies. You’re right. No matter how much I want to think I know what’s happening in this situation, the reality is, I just don’t know. You want me to trust You and that’s what I have to do.
Do you have the courage to trust God when the answer is no? Can you trust God to see you through the pain when He does not remove it? Do you believe God enough to understand that you don’t have all the answers, and you never will? In the book of Job God is teaching us that He values our trust and He values faithfulness in the midst of struggle.
Glorify God in the struggle. We know two things about Job from the account of his life in Scripture. We know Job suffered greatly. And we also know that Job continued to be faithful to God throughout his suffering. Though he questioned God many times, Job never said, “I quit. I’m not following you any more God.” Though his friends urged him to abandon his faith, and God Himself essentially told Job, “I don’t have to explain Myself to you, Job,” the fact is that Job did the one thing he could do, and that was to remain faithful.
We know that, “The LORD restored the fortunes of Job…” (Job 42:10) and that, “The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12). God rewarded the faithfulness of Job. The very reason we know about Job and celebrate his story is not that God made good things happen after the bad that Job endured. Rather, it is what Job did during the trials of his life that make him unique. He glorified God throughout his struggle. With his very life, throughout the excruciating testing, Job’s actions told all those around him, “This is a God worth following. This is a God that is worth remaining faithful to.”
God, Thank you for times of testing. Help me to trust You when I don’t know all the answers. Help me to trust You even more when the answer is no, when You would have me walk through something instead of delivering me out of it. May my life, in all ways, show faithfulness to You in the bad times as well as the good, so that I may be a witness that You are worth being faithful to, no matter what the cost. In Jesus’ name, amen.