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Job and the Lesson of Faith

By Richard Zowie

NOTE: This originally was published in www.saworship.com. I am re-posting it here out of a heavy burden. There have been people I’ve known in my life who were once solid Christians but are now away from God. My prayer is that this and other columns would provide them with a much-needed source of encouragement and enlightenment).

One of the great but yet simple theological truths can be found in the feel-good 1993 film Rudy. Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger is a physically and academically undersized-but nevertheless determined-young man who wants nothing more than to play football for his beloved Notre Dame. In the film, he seeks advice from a priest regarding the direction he’s supposed to go in. The priest offers this amusing but interesting observation: “Son, in 35 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and I’m not Him.”

Indeed, we are not God. This, of course, goes against the secular humanistic thinking that mankind either is God or can become Him through enough eons of successful evolution. If we were God, we’d have all the answers to the problems that plague our lives. The answers are indeed very far away, most of which won’t be answered until we enter eternity.

Our family has gone through some tough times, and I’ve been repeatedly found myself asking the question, “Why?” We do the best we can to live for the Lord, praying and reading scripture and serving in our church. Why do these frustrating things still happen?

Years ago, I woke up early one morning and found myself worried about a discouraging incident. I was upset at God that He wasn’t giving us the resources to get these things taken care of. This situation has actually been an ongoing problem for sometime, and I found myself very flustered.

As I sat down in the early morning hours, I took my Bible and turned to the Book of Psalms. Each Psalm I read emphasized the importance of entering God’s presence with praise, being thankful and recognizing the great things He has done. And then, I thought about Job. He had it all, lost it all and spent chapter after chapter wrestling with God’s sovereignty. I went over to Job and read over the last three chapters.

Job is considered by many to be the oldest book in the Bible. It’s about a godly, wealthy man who has it all: a wife, many children, servants, and lots of livestock and other possessions. God and Satan have a dialogue early in the book, and God mentions Job and what a godly man he is. Satan argues that Job’s godly ways are solely a reflection of the material wealth bestowed upon him. “Bring tragedy into his life and take away his wealth, and he’ll curse you, God,” Satan argued.

God must’ve been very impressed with Job to bring him up in the first place, and He gives Satan this order: you may take away his possessions, but do not harm him. Satan does just that, with Job’s kids and servants dying and his possessions taken from him. Job holds firm and keeps his focus on God, even in the next stage when God tells Satan that he can bring physical affliction upon Job-but still he is not allowed to kill him. Job develops boils over all his body and suffers much agony. His wife implores him to curse God and die, to which Job replies that she speaks foolishly and that it is unreasonable for us to only expect good things from God.

After that, Job and his friends have a long dialogue about why he is suffering. Job says he doesn’t understand why. His friends think he’s hiding pride or has some sort of unconfessed sin in his life that would have caused God‘s wrath. Finally, in the latter chapters, God speaks to Job from a whirlwind. Just as Job spends much of the book questioning God, the Almighty has some questions of His own for his servant:

Where were you when I created the world and the universe?
Do you know all about what’s in the deepest depths of the ocean?
(This is something marine biologists still don’t know millennia later).
Do you know all the intimate details of zoology? (There are still many species of animals and insects yet to be discovered).
Is a fallible, finite man really capable of second guessing an infallible, infinite God?

God then demonstrates His power for Job by discussing the dinosaur-like creature, the leviathan. This creature, which God created, is a very mighty creature, and the Lord details its staggering physical characteristics. God’s point is simple: He is capable of creating the earth, the heavens, the oceans and all the majestic creatures: it is therefore foolish for man-with all his physical and mental limitations-to doubt the way God does things. Instead, we must trust Him.

As I read this, I realized something. If He’d wanted to, God could’ve easily explained to Job the conversation He’d had with Satan and how Job’s afflictions were a test to prove that godly people will follow God no matter what trials are going on in their lives. But instead, God chooses to hammer this point: “Job, my son, you are not Me. I alone am God. You are not able to do the incredible things that I do. My ways are infinitely above your ways, so there is no way, at this point, for you to be able to truly grasp them. At this stage, all you can do is acknowledge My Sovereignty, have faith in Me and know that it’s all in My control-and leave it at that. Someday, perhaps later in your life or in heaven where your mind won’t have the limitations it has now, you’ll understand why these things have happened to you.”

Job confesses his lack of trust in God. As a result, God not only gives Job his wealth back, it’s also more than he had before. He also has more children, and Job 42:15 tells us that his daughters were more beautiful than any other women in the land.

And as I concluded my reading, all I could think was my sin of getting upset with God and not trusting in Him. Sure, with our obligations it can be extremely tough since we have answers that we need very soon rather than later, but ultimately it’s important to realize that everything is in God’s control. He makes no mistakes, and all things happen in His perfect timing. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

Maybe you’re facing a hardship in your life. It could be a failed relationship, a lost job, a bad job, money, past-due bills, a church split or a death in the family. To escape the dark valley of heartache and despair, what is best for us is to pray about it, place it in God’s hands, and watch for avenues to open for us as He helps us move out of our trials. God never promises we’ll have only good times, and it’s through the tough times that He’s able to help us develop a solid foundation for a relationship with Him.

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