Usually the first thing that comes into our head when we are facing difficulties is to ask God to get us out of the situation. Few of us have the Biblical perspective to ask God to get us through the crises. Our first thoughts are usually to flee or try and escape the consequences of bad situations in our lives. But, for most of us that is not an option. So how we deal with these discouragements can make the difference between a productive Christian life, or a defeated inward looking despondency.
Few people in history have ever experienced more heartache and loss than Job. In the first chapter we read, “and there came a messenger to Job, and said, ‘the oxen were plowing and the asses feeding beside them; and the Sabeans, fell upon them and took them, and slew the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you.”(v. 14, 15) While Job was trying to digest that news another servant came up to him and announced, “the fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you.” (v. 16) And if that wasn’t bad enough for one day another servant arrived with further news. “The Chaldeans formed three companies, and made a raid upon the camels and took them, and slew the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you.” (v. 17)
Everything Job had disappeared in one day. He was financially ruined; his ability to make a living and provide for his family was taken away in one swoop. And all of his employees had been killed as well. Without them he didn’t have the expertise to rebuild his farm even if he could restock it. Then, just as if nothing could get any worse, another servant entered with the most disastrous news yet. “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness, and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you.” (v. 18, 19)
How would you respond to such circumstances? I know none of us has ever faced such overwhelming disaster, but many of us have faced our own pain and sorrow over the loss of loved ones and changes in our prosperity. Most of us would probably cry out to God, “why me?” or “what have I done wrong to bring this disaster on my head?” In fact Job had three friends who rushed to his side when they heard the news. They sat quiet for seven days and nights not saying anything. (2:13) As long as they kept silent they were all right. It was only when they began to speak that things took a nosedive.
The first to speak was Eliphaz the Temanite and the premise of his statement was God never punishes the righteous, therefore Job you must have done something wrong to bring such retribution upon yourself. (Read chapters 4 & 5) Job’s other two friends basically follow the same pattern as Eliphaz blaming Job for his own misery. It is only in the last chapter of Job that God confronts Eliphaz and tells him and his two friends that they have spoken wrongly. (42:7-9)
When bad things happen to us it is easy to blame ourselves and start beating ourselves up. We begin to second-guess ourselves and when we have family and friends who reinforce these views it can be devastating on our spirituality.
Job’s wife didn’t take the philosophical view of Eliphaz, instead she just came right out and said what was on her mind. “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (2:9)
It is interesting to see how Job responded to the loss of everything he had and all the advice that was thrown his way. After Job heard the news that everything he loved and cared for was gone he arose, “rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell upon the ground and worshipped. And he said, ‘naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (1:20, 21) The first responses of Job when he found out about the loss of his family and livelihood were to worship and give thanks.
Don’t get me wrong; Job was overcome with grief. Throughout the book he cries out to God even cursing the day that he was born. But he doesn’t curse God. He grieves for the circumstances he finds himself in but he doesn’t turn on God blaming Him for the destruction of his family. It is the same when his wife tells him to curse God. He answers, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”
There are two texts I would like us to consider in regards to Job’s response to what happened and his wife’s suggestion to curse God. In 1:22 it is recorded, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” And in 2:10 “In all this Job did not sin with His lips.”
Notice the two things that Job didn’t do while in the depths of despair and pain. He didn’t charge God with wrong and he didn’t start bad mouthing God to everyone who would listen. How often the first thought we have when facing problems is to blame God for not getting us out of the problem. And the second thing we do is start sounding off to everyone about how poorly God has treated us. The amazing lesson we can learn from Job is that instead of blaming and pointing fingers, we need more than ever to come to God in worship and thanksgiving.
Instead of vowing never to go back to church again because God didn’t take you out of your unwanted situation you need to come to God in worship and praise seeking the power and strength to be able to get through the problem. When we face real problems is when we see whose Christian walk is real. Instead of pleading with God to help us flee our problems we need to flee into the arms of God who holds us tight and secure through the storms of life.