Right now God has a plan that is unfolding in every believerís life even though we donít understand the purpose nor can we foresee the end results.
I wonder exactly what Jobís thoughts were when he heard that he had lost all his donkeys and camels and servants, and finally all ten of his children had been killed. Seriously, what would have been your response?
For many years I thought of Job as a stalwart of the faith and his wife as a weak, whining believer, one who didnít share Jobís zeal for the Lord to any great extent. I supposed she was like many Christians today, that she shared her spousesí beliefs, just not with the commitment he had. Our churches today have a lot of people who are like I thought Mrs. Job was, people of both sexes who are believers but donít want to get involved any deeper than the Sunday Bible hour and they bypass the Lordís Supper, the evening services, and prayer meeting. Yes, they might attend an occasional Bible Study and may even read the lesson before coming to that gathering.
Before we write off Mrs. Job completely, let's stop and think of things from her side of the coin.
Letís begin where Job (and his wife) had just lost all their material possessions and their ten children. Undoubtedly any spouses those children had were killed by the tornado, too.
Job 1:20-22. ďThen Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
21: And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
22: In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.Ē
Just imagine what it would be like trying to sleep that first night, and I might add, many nights after that, after burying all ten of your children with your own hands. Your wife is laying beside you crying because those were the children that she bore that were killed. Itís probably still a blur as to just what happened. Most of you know how empty you feel when you suffer the unexpected loss of someone near and dear to you. You have a feeling that just canít be described, a hollow ache in the pit of your stomach and everything that happened just seems to be a blur. Sometimes we try to rationalize and hope that weíll wake up in the morning and find it isnít true. Although Iím a realist, Iíve tried that. Iíve been there and I know it doesnít work that way.
Iím sure Job and his wife didnít have a clue as to what was going to happen next. What came next just wasn't fair, at least from our perspective.
Job was the model of integrity. After he lost everything, he had blessed God the Father, in fact, he had worshipped Him, and Satan couldn't stand it. Satan had lost round one.
Satan is no quitter. He likes to hit us with a double whammy. The first one usually is a complete surprise; the second one is calculated to really shock us. Satan came before God with a plan to hit Job with another blow.
Job 2:1. "Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.
2: And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
3: And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
4: And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
5: But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
6: And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
7: So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8: And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.
9: Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
10: But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips."
Verse 1, round two. "Again, there was a day."
Verse 2. ďThen God asked Satan, ĎWhat have you been up to?í Satan said, ĎOh, Iíve been roaming about on the earth and walking around on it, looking for failure in Your people.í
The Lord said, ďCheck out My servant, Job. Thereís nobody like him on earth, heís blameless, upright, and God fearing. Thereís nobody anywhere around like him and after all you did to him he still keeps his integrity, even though you have ruined his life.í
Satan said, ĎYes, but Youíve protected him personally, but if he suffered physically heíd dump you in a minute.Ē "Skin for skin! All that a man has he'll give to protect his own life.Ē ďHe may not be able to make a living with all his animals and buildings gone, but he's still got his health and they are both young enough they can still have more children. Take away his health, and he will curse You to Your face.í
The conversation ends with Verse 6: "And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life." Can you imagine your name connected to such an agreement? It scares me to even think about it. ďLucifer, go get him, just don't kill him." God again set the boundary, "Preserve his life, but he's fair game."
Job would face the shock of his life very soon. The next thing he knew he had broken out in boils from head to toe. Satan didnít waste any time. He hit him while he was down. What Job may have first thought was just sore muscles from digging graves for his ten children, he found out was a lot more serious. I think his heart sank when he realized what he had and Iím sure he got that awful empty feeling in the pit of his stomach again.
In those days, disease was thought to be Godís judgment on the individual as the result of sin. This resulted in Job being rejected, isolated, and relocated to the city dump. Warren Wiersbe describes it like this: ďThere the city garbage was deposited and burned, and there the city's rejects lived, begging alms from whomever passed by. At the ash heap, dogs fought over something to eat, and the city's dung was brought and burned. The city's leading citizen was now living in abject poverty and shame. All that he humanly had left were his wife and three friends, and even they turned against him. He was in a state of complete confusion, total isolation, unbearable pain, no hope of change, sitting in filthy surroundings, removed from all the comforts of home.Ē
All of this just had to be overwhelming to Mrs. Job. She must have been at the end of her rope when she came for a visit. She said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity?" This is a rhetorical question. It doesnít need an answer. She had put her finger on the one quality in Job's life that God used in answering Satan.
She didnít question Jobís faith in God, she questioned his need to maintain that any longer in this life. And then she used Satan's line "Curse God!" Satan was never closer to victory than at that moment. He was hoping Job would take his wifeís advice, give up his life and ďcurse his GodĒ and Satanís hope of victory hung on Job's response to his wife.
As I mentioned earlier, I think when we read this we often take unfair advantage of Job's wife. I think we need to take a look at Mrs. Jobís side of the story. Her response to the situation other than these few words isnít recorded.
Why would she respond in this way? First, those ten children that died were her children, each one a baby she carried for nine months, nursed, changed, spanked and loved, watched them grow up, and suddenly they were all dead. Some of us know the loss of one or more of our children but until you or I have lost all our children, let's not say anything critical about somebody who is in that much grief. Who knows what we would say or do if we suffered that kind of a loss?
She also suffered the loss of all their considerable wealth and possessions. Financially, sheís bankrupt. Social position, bottom of society. Sheís now the childless wife of the former "greatest of all the men of the east,Ē living alone and in poverty. Her husband is a pauper with a serious disease, living in the city landfill. In that day and age, she would be basically the same as a poverty stricken widow with no promise for a better future.
Last month she was the leading lady of the community and now she's the pathetic wife of a broken man who is sitting alone in abject poverty in the city dump, covered with sores.
The livestock that were stolen were also her livestock, the servants who tended the livestock were her servants, that home was also her home. She was on the same level as Job, economically. She's lost her companion, her husband, her lover. The woman has no hope that this will ever change.
I quote Chuck Swindol here: ďIsn't it a little easier to understand how she could suggest, "Job, I canít stand to see you living like this. You can't keep living like this, Curse God and let Him take you home to be with Him."
I think she'd reached her limit and was willing to give him up to go to a better place. I canít justify the woman's reasoning but I sure can understand it.
God had said to Satan, "He holds fast his integrity." And she, of all things, asked him, "Why do you want to keep doing that?" What he really needed to hear her say was, "Job, whatever you do, stand fast! I'll go with you wherever we need go. I'll endure whatever we have to endure but don't compromise your integrity. Let's walk with God through this, together."
Job was right on top of this one. He said, in verse 10, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks."
In spite of all he had suffered, and it was with Godís permission and not because of anything he had done that was wrong, here he is, sitting there in misery with all those sores, not knowing if anything would ever change but still standing firm. He asked an excellent question. It's another rhetorical question, asked for the purpose of making the listener think. "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Verse 10). Quoting Swindol again; ďThat is magnificent theology! This was rare insight, not only back then, but today! You wonít get a statement like that from our secular system today.Ē
Weíre much more apt to hear something like, ĎIf God is a loving God, why would He do those terrible things to such a good couple?í or, ĎWhat kind of a God would treat you like that when youíve been so faithful to Him? Why in the world would you continue to stand by Him when He treats you like that?í
Job's comment was the ultimate example of logic and faith: "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" Thatís faith in God and in His ultimate purpose for each individual believer.
Some times the believer has to learn a hard lesson, especially if we think God owes us, or has promised us, health and wealth. God's wonderful plan for our lives involves pleasantness as well as trouble. Believers on this side of the cross have many more examples of God's people who have suffered as recorded in the Bible and also from church history. Job didnít have this background to support his belief in the supremacy of God and his trust in Godís plan for his life. He had amazing faith that God is right in whatever He chooses to do.
We serve a God who has the right to do whatever He does and is never obligated to ask our permission or to even explain it.
Who are we to think that good things are all weíll ever receive? He is our Lord and our Master! Regardless of hard times or things that are beyond our comprehension, we need to remember that the God we serve has a plan for our life that is perfect. Letís just try not to mess it up.
And I love this last line in verse 10. This is something that is so hard to do. "In all this Job did not sin with his lips" That is absolute trust and faith in God and Godís sovereign plan.
Just like Job, our lives are full of troubles and trials. Thereís always more to come.
Some of my favorite verses in the book of Job are Job 5:7. "For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward." Another is Job:14:1. ďMan that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.Ē
Don't be surprised by the fact that trials are inevitable. Job is absolutely correct. The adversary of the Christian is on the loose. If Satan hits you in one place, be aware of the fact that no place is immune.
Many centuries after Jobís time, Peter warned us about Satan again when he wrote in 1 Peter 4:12: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you." Trials are the rule, not the exception but remember what is in store for the believer.
In Ephesians 1:2-6, itís revealed what God has made available to the believer.
2: "Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6: To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."
God is sovereign so we need to be prepared for blessing and adversity. Because He is God, He's unpredictable. Job didnít second guess God. He didnít find fault with what has happened to him. He stated that itís equally right for God to give gifts and to take them away (round one); itís just as right for God to give good or evil (round two).
Positive faith changes everything to good. Whether itís good or bad that we receive from the hand of God, every experience in life can be a blessing. Remember, itís easier to question what God is doing than it is to accept by faith that what God has given you is in your best interest.
The following Scripture wasnít written yet in Jobís day but Job had the faith and integrity it portrays. It gives the only logical course of action for the believer today.
Proverbs 3:5-6. ďTrust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6: In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.Ē