January is coming to an end, the holidays are long gone, and grey dormancy has seeped into sunny days. When new semesters begin, I usually have a hard time adapting to my new schedule, expectations, and responsibilities. Do you?
I’ve been reading my Bible chronologically this month, and it led me into a dusty, desolate book that most Christians steer clear of: Job. Historically, Job happens between the flood and the birth of Abraham. I want to encourage you to read the story for yourself, because it’s a beautiful declaration of God’s love for us. It’s also 42 chapters long, so I can’t do it justice in one blog! Job was “the greatest man among all the people of the East,” and God considered him blameless and upright. Job regularly prayed, made sacrifices, and acknowledged any sin he or his family committed, and God knew his faith was strong. The enemy made a bet that he could bring Job to curse the Lord and turn away from Him. God knew the enemy had no power over Him, and He knew Job was faithful to his core, so He allowed the enemy to test Job. Job’s family was lost, his livestock was slaughtered, and he was struck with boils from head to toe. To top it all off, his three best friends spend nine chapters giving him terrible advice and berating him. But, the enemy lost his bet: Job never cursed God. He cursed his own life, he cursed the day he was born, and he cursed the wicked, yet he never lost sight of God’s providence.
Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
Job faced trials that I hope none of you ever walk through, but I think we can all relate to his story on some level. Can you think of a time when your faith was tested? Did your friends turn on you? Has anyone ever told you something along the lines of, “there must be hidden sin in your life” or “God sends us trials to refine us?” Job’s friends assumed that the bad things happening to him were a result of his own actions. They assumed Job was being punished for his wickedness, when he was actually being tested for his righteousness. Every action has consequences, but in a world as broken as ours, there will be things that happen to you that aren’t your fault. Sometimes, bad things just happen. I know that’s not cheery, but there is good news:
God is good in all seasons. Good cannot produce bad. Every bad thing that happens is a result of fallen man and a broken world, not a punishment from a vengeful God. God allowed the enemy to send Job trials because He knew Job would grow closer to Him in the process. He knew Job would survive, and He knew He could restore all that was lost. I hate to spoil the ending, but God rewards Job’s faithfulness. Check out how the Lord ties his story up:
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters.
God restored Job’s fortunes above and beyond what he had before. He never lost control of Job’s situation, and He could see the happy ending when no one else could. Nothing the enemy did took God by surprise. The book of Job isn’t a promise that God will make you rich or grant wishes, but it is a promise that He blesses those who worship Him. You and I have the promise of eternity, and no one knows just how rich, fulfilling, and beautiful Heaven will be. Life on Earth will get hard, and you may walk through dark things; but if you remember who God is, regardless of your circumstances, He’ll bless your faithfulness.