The book of Job (pronounced “jōbe”) is an interesting one in the Bible. It recounts a series of terrible tragedies that happen to a man named Job. The book reveals to us how he dealt with them, the struggles he had processing them and what he learned about God through them. And like all other stories in the Bible, there are some important lessons from Job and his story that can help us today.
How do you deal with tragedy in your own life? Everyone goes through it at some point. That is what Job faced, probably at a deeper and more challenging level than anyone in history. The story begins this way.
A Summary of Job’s Trial
Job was a righteous man before God. He feared God and honored him in his daily life. In fact, we read in 1:1 that Job was “blameless and upright” before God.
Not only was Job an honorable man and righteous before God, he was rich. He was very rich! He is described as “…the greatest of all the peoples of the East” (1:3). In essence, this man had it all.
Well this doesn’t sit well with one particular spiritual entity – Satan. We read in Chapter 1 that he actually has a conversation with God about it. Satan thinks that Job only honors and follows after God because God has blessed him. He concludes that if God takes everything away, then Job would curse God.
What Happened to Job
God allows Satan to take everything from Job as a way to test Job’s faith. And in what we would consider an unimaginable series of tragedies, Job loses everything. His livestock and possessions are wiped out and stolen. His children are killed when a great wind collapses the house in which they were having a feast. And to top it all off, Job is stricken with a dreaded and painful skin disease.
How would you handle that situation? What would you say? Would you be able to keep your faith in tact through such tragedy?
Well, it seems as though Job did. He was in deep emotional pain. However, we are told that he did not curse God like Satan had said would happen.
But Job did have questions. He was confused. He did want answers from God. So from Chapters 3-36, we get to read about a debate between Job and some friends who had come to mourn with and support Job.
Lessons from Job for Us Today
There is much more to the story and the eventual outcome in Chapters 38-42 where God finally shows up and answers Job. And there is too much dialogue that takes place between Job and his friends for us to adequately cover here. But there are big takeaways and some lessons from Job that we can draw from this book that can move us forward in our relationship with God.
The spiritual realm is real and active
Many people do not believe in a spiritual realm with beings (angels or demons) that exist there. In the book of Job though, we see this to be the case. We see early on in the book an interaction between the two chief spiritual beings, that being God and Satan.
They actually have conversations with one another. That is amazing in itself to realize there is this type of interaction going on in the spiritual world. And the conversation is deep, with major theological issues hanging in the balance.
More importantly though, we see that Satan and God are both active. They remain aware of our reality. They are aware of what is happening in the physical realm.
Satan tells God he has been wondering around the earth (1:7), to which God asks if he has taken notice of Job. This implies a God who watches Job and knows about his existence. That should be of great comfort to know that God is interested in and cares about people on earth.
And it should put us on high alert because Satan is actively working to disrupt our lives and cause us to turn from God in any way he can.
God is in control
Life sometimes seems out of control. This is especially true when tragedy strikes. We feel helpless to manage through the tough times because the circumstances are hard and the pain is deep.
Yet God remains in control of it all. In fact, Satan would not have been allowed to put Job through this trial if God had not allowed it. God is the supreme being, through which and by which all things consist.
This would be God’s principal argument to Job when God finally decides to speak in Chap. 38. He dramatically points out to Job – by posing a series of questions – that no one can know the mind of God. He furthermore challenges Job to explain the foundations of the universe and how things are created with order and purpose.
Of course, Job can’t do this because he is not all-knowing or all-powerful like God. That is what ultimately led Job to repent and humble himself before God at the end of the story. He realized that God is in control. And although we may have doubts and questions, we can rest in the fact that God has a plan for what we are going through that we will see one day.
We will face trials
No one ever said that we would not face trials. In fact, the Bible in multiple places points out that we will experience them. It’s inevitable.
Our reaction to those trials is what matters. One of the big lessons from Job is that he did not curse God through his trials. He did not turn away from God. Yes, he had questions but he didn’t abandon his faith.
In the New Testament, believers are actually encouraged to rejoice in their trials. James 1:2 tells us to “Consider it joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds.” How could this be? Why should we feel this way in our deepest and darkest moments?
James gives us the answer. He goes on to say in the next few verses that the testing of our faith develops perseverance. And when perseverance finishes its work in our lives, we will be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
There is a right and wrong way to help people
One of the great lessons from Job is that he did not face this difficult time alone. He had some great friends who came to comfort him. How encouraging that must have been to see them come in his hour of need.
Job’s friends did everything right at first. They were compassionate and caring. They respected Job’s pain and did not diminish it. Just their mere presence honored his struggle.
(For more on their positive behavior and what they did right, check out this article: 7 Positive Lessons from Job’s Friends on Helping Hurting People.)
However, their advice was dreadful once they tried to counsel Job. Their theology about why this was happening to Job was entirely inaccurate. They believed Job and sinned and that God was punishing him for wrongdoing. The only way to get out of his circumstance was to repent of his sin and get right with God. He then would receive God’s blessing again.
This was a real problem for Job. He knew he hadn’t sinned. There was nothing to confess.
But his friends kept pushing him about it. It ended up causing a real rift between them and God voiced his displeasure in the concluding chapters of the book about their advice to Job.
So there are right things to do when helping hurting people and there are wrong things to do. Especially when speaking advice, counsel or comfort, we need to make sure it will not do more damage to an already hurting person.
We cannot fully understand God
Who has known the mind of the Lord? Well, no one fully. We get glimpses of who God is and what his character is about in the Bible. But God has not fully revealed himself to us. One day that will happen but not as of yet.
This bothers some. To not know God fully is to not know him at all. The missing pieces they claim leave too many questions, too many doubts and too many problems to overcome.
Job dealt with that. He didn’t understand why this was happening. For him, it did raise questions. It did raise doubts. He probably even had fears about who this God was that he thought he knew.
In the end though, Job accepted himself as mortal, in mind, body and spirit. Job tells God in 42:3 that he has uttered things to God and to his friends that he did not understand. The things of God are “too wonderful for me” he says and he will not presume to question God anymore about why these things have happened (42:4).
Job recognized what we all should and that is that we cannot fully comprehend the mind and work of God. That’s OK. It doesn’t diminish the faith and trust we can still have in Him. In reality, it actually enhances the faith that we should have when we are walking through difficult circumstances.
These are very powerful lessons from Job that we can apply to our daily lives. The book is a great example of God’s sovereignty in our lives and how we can survive through the trials we face.
Hopefully, these takeaways we have outlined today can help you the next time you are going through a difficult situation. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook page. Feel free to share or reach out to us in either place.
Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: What other lessons from Job do you see? What trials have you faced and how did God bring you through them? Do you think it is OK to bring your doubts and questions to God?