Two or three weeks ago, I began taking my Sunday school class through the book of Job. In a conversation with one of my friends recently about this, he exclaimed, “Geez Nate, why did you pick that book! It’s so depressing.” I thought for a moment, chuckled, ( as previously, I had taught them through Ecclesiastes, another “depressing” book) and gave him these two reasons:
First, I personally resonate with the lamenting passages or books of the Bible, (Ecclesiastes, the lament Psalms, etc…) as I find them to be extremely raw and personable to me. Secondly, I think the book of Job (which most certainly ranks among the lamenting parts in the Bible) offers so many insights and lessons into the Christian life. I would like to briefly go over just a few of these, as my hope is for you to read through Job in the near future with these in mind.
First and foremost, the book of Job eliminates any notion of a “prosperity gospel.” Job was the most righteous man on earth at the time. Yet, he still underwent incredible suffering and loss. The prosperity gospel cries aloud that, if you are good enough, you will be blessed. However, I read the story of Job, and see that idea getting tossed to the wayside. We are never promised an easy life. The book of Job reminds us that suffering will happen to Christians at some point, and no amount of faith or good deeds can save us from that. I
Secondly, the book of Job reminds us that, in our suffering, faith in God is the only anchor for our souls. Over the course of the entire book of Job, he listens to his three friends (Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar) speak falsehoods about God, faith, and righteousness. He listens to his wife chastise him by saying, “curse God and die already!” He is covered in boils and sores so much that he is unrecognizable. His entire livelihood and family that he has spent his whole life building up has been taken away from him. But, Job still holds fast to God and his faith in the goodness and redemption of Him. Job fires back at his wife and friends for the false statements, and roots his trust in the accurate understanding and faith of God.
From personal experience, when I underwent incredible suffering and hardship, my only hope and safety was God. When I lost my father at eighteen, when my future at college was uncertain, when I had to quit my job and take care of my dying grandmother, and when I moved to Louisville with less than $200 in my bank account, the only thing I could do was trust and have faith in God my Father. He alone was my anchor. Obviously Job’s and our struggles may be vastly different. But I believe firmly that the lesson still stands. Faith in God alone is our anchor. I see, throughout all forty-two chapters of Job, a man who is at his absolute lowest point, and yet refuses to have his faith swayed. Wow! What a powerful example that is.
Friends, I hope one day soon you will read through the book of Job. I hope you will see the pain and loss of Job and wrestle with that image, and still praise the glory of God. I pray that as you read Job’s friends speak untrue ideals, that you would say, “hey that’s not true, because I know God is…..” Lastly, I pray that as you close out Job’s last few chapters, and hear what God Himself speaks to Job, that you would marvel at the goodness, the power, and the holiness of God. May our faith never be swayed by suffering. May it anchor us down and hold us fast in our trying times.