Would You Exchange Your Life For the One of Job?
“The Book of Job” – when I read it for the first time, I was terrified. How could God let all these terrible things happen to such a godly man? Job pleased God, nevertheless he had to suffer all the worse. Why did God let this happen?
I hadn’t opened this book until a couple of years later – and I thanked Lord for placing it in the Bible. It became to me a source of hope and support as I was going through my own life trial. When I read it and studied its content, I was amazed at how dramatically my perspective had changed. Here are some words that I wrote based on that experience.
Paraphrase of the Book of Job
There was an unusual, godly man by the name of Job. Everyone who knew him thought he was a true example of righteousness and faithfulness. He was admired for his character and all the generous blessings God has been graciously bestowing on him. He was successful at work, had a wonderful family, a great house and a lavish car. He was popular and respected. He was a generous charity contributor. The leader of his church could always count on him. People who looked at Job grew stronger in a conviction that obedience to God and keeping His commandments were rewarded with blessings. Besides, they often heard it in church. “Keep away from sin, be right with God and you’ll be fine” – they were told in sermons. Or: “Be faithful and God will give you all you need and even more.” Job took those words to heart and he did his best to live that way. He guarded his thoughts, mouth and eyes that they wouldn’t give in to temptation. In addition, being afraid that his adult children might have somehow offended God, he used to pray for them every day, asking God for forgiveness, just in case.
Although Job was so wealthy and he knew God blessed him abundantly, deep within his heart there was fear. The fear of losing it all. The more he was afraid, the more he tried to guard his mouth, his thoughts and deeds to avoid doing something wrong and offend God. Everything seemed to be fine… until there came a day when his world fell apart. It went to million pieces and Job couldn’t put it together. He lost everything! He lost his job, the house and all the money. And then there came the biggest shock – his children died in an accident. Job was devastated. His broken-hearted wife moved away from him and from God. His marriage began to falter. But Job didn’t follow his wife’s example and didn’t shake his fist at Heavens. He suffered but accepted God’s sovereignty and His right to choose His own way. “We come bare into this world and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it” – he said in tears. Very brave and unusual words.
But this is not the end of misfortunes that happened to him. One day Job went to a doctor. He didn’t expect anything wrong; it was a routine visit. He wasn’t prepared for the bad news he heard: he’s got a malignant tumor. Isn’t it enough for one man’s life?! Of course, with such a deep stress it could end that way. All the recent events were shocking enough and now this. “How can I take it from God’s hands? Just as I have taken the blessings?” – he asked himself. All he had feared of and from what he had been running away in his dreams now became a terrifying reality. What a shock! At first he tried to cope with it, to rise to the occasion, but soon he got depressed. The disease afflicted not only his body, but first of all his soul. He was seized with doubts: “Now what? Maybe it’s better to give up and pass away? I have nothing to live for in this world.” He cried to God: “What wrong have I done?! What are You punishing me for?” But he got no answer. He examined his heart, looking for anything that might have offended God. He found nothing. His conscience didn’t accuse him. Why then? Why did it happen to him? His pain was unbearable. Suddenly he became just like a lonely island. His friends were afraid to talk to him. They didn’t call him and moved away from him. He had only three close friends left, but they couldn’t help him either. They also couldn’t understand why Job had found himself in such a deep misery. They looked for a cause. They urged him to confess his sin. There must have been something in his life that has offended God; otherwise He wouldn’t have treated Job so badly. But those talks only intensified Job’s sufferings. Finally, his friends didn’t have anything more to say. It’s hard to accompany somebody in his pain. They felt helpless. They would rather see Job did something to persuade God to change that situation. Job knew they really wanted to help him but he had enough; he was tired of the disease and of all the disputes. He felt strongly that he didn’t deserve anything of what he was going through. He prayed and he kept asking God: “Why? Why do I have to go through this? Why are You doing this to me?” He hardly walked out. The only place he would go to was the hospital. His friends stopped visiting him. Job was so stubborn about his belief, and they didn’t know what else to say. That one thing he was perfectly sure about – he has not sinned! When he saw his friends, he felt depressed and they were afraid to ask how he was doing. He wasn’t an example of an abundant God’s blessing anymore; on the contrary. He had more questions than answers. Nevertheless, he directed all of them to God.
Only one person – although a young and inexperienced – faithfully accompanied Job in his trial. The person was taciturn but when he spoke, his words alleviated Job’s pain. He listened to Job’s complaints and tried to help him look at the situation from a different perspective. Inspired by the Spirit, he explained that God hadn’t stopped being righteous and merciful. But His righteousness was something more than Job had previously thought. That’s why he felt treated in such a wrong and unfair way. But God knows what He’s doing and why. He doesn’t change. It’s us who have to change. Through suffering He teaches us much more than through peaceful, satisfying life where everything goes the way we want. God wants to broaden our perspective. And Job finally started to open to this lesson. God spoke and Job did nothing but listened. He slowly realized he tried to teach God what was the best for him and what wasn’t. He wanted to exercise control. Being in despair, he pointed his finger and accused God of unfairness and unrighteousness. He knew God rewarded the righteous and punished the sinful. Therefore, he did what he could to deserve those rewards and live in happiness. And yet, ironically, it was the misery that was supposed to open Job’s eyes and free his soul from the fear of adversity and death; to protect him from pride. It’s so easy for someone who’s got so much to think he deserves it because he’s much better than everyone else. Job argued with God and accused Him of being unfair because he thought he knew about good and bad, right and wrong. But God wanted Job to trust Him and rely on His assessment in the matter. God reached to Job and answered him just as honestly and openly as Job had been pouring his heart before Him. He wasn’t angry with the man, He didn’t condemn him but with forbearance He revealed and explained the truth. The truth about Himself.
Job suffered a big loss, but the advantages were much greater. He’s lost his fortune, family and health, but gained a wider perspective and humility, and first of all, a deeper understanding of the Creator. There was one last thing – forgiveness! Job needed to let go of bitterness and forgive those who tried to help but unintentionally harmed him and caused even greater pain. It was because they had a wrong picture of God and a wrong view of Job’s situation. It’s so easy to carry hurt or resentment in one’s heart, to become its slave. Job was able to free himself from that slavery, to change his attitude. He forgave all the hurts and the Lord renewed him, restored his health and blessed him even more abundantly. From that moment on, Job has never been alone. All his friends came back to him, sympathized with him and admired him. They listened to what he had to say. Job changed. He knew he loved God more than his own life! But God knew that too, and what’s more important, it was also known by his adversary – Satan. Job’s love to his Savior had been proven and tested in the fire of adversity. It remained, although everything else had been temporarily taken away from him. But he didn’t turn away from God, because he loved Him not for what God had given to him but for WHO HE WAS. And God loved him too.