I first encountered the Book of Job in the Old Testament around 8 years ago. My mom has recently passed away that time, I resigned from work with no new job offer, my brother and I were in debt due to our mom’s hospital bills and my then-relationship has just ended. In short, it was a very dark time for me and I felt that there was no hope anymore.
That time, I had already taken up the Christian faith seriously and was reading the Bible more often than before. But it was quite limited to Psalms. I was a bit hesitant to read the other books because it still has a “mystifying” effect on me and I thought it would take extra-ordinary faith and wisdom to understand those, not advisable for a “baby Christian” like me. But as I read it, I realized that there were a lot of things to learn from Job’s life, which are essential in my walk with God. True, he had it worse – all the trials in his life happened in just a span of two days! Not a day has he recovered from the loss of his properties and children, when the devil has targeted his attack on Job’s own health instead. And many times in our lives, we would undergo hardships, when it seems that God’s hand is upon us and there’s no stopping to the punches and knocks coming our way, that feel like we can’t go on anymore or wish there’s a “tap out” move we can do just to stop everything.
We question our circumstances. We question our actions and decisions. Sometimes, we even question ourselves and ask why it happened to us. Most, if not all of the time, we also question God. Why has He allowed bad things to happen, where was He when it was happening and why isn’t He doing something about it and so on and so forth.
Questioning our circumstances is not a sin in itself. It’s a normal reaction for the confused state we are in. It’s also not evil when we question God. Looking back at Job, there were many circumstances when he questioned God –
“3 Does it please you to oppress me,
to spurn the work of your hands,
while you smile on the plans of the wicked?
4 Do you have eyes of flesh?
Do you see as a mortal sees?
5 Are your days like those of a mortal
or your years like those of a strong man,
6 that you must search out my faults
and probe after my sin—
7 though you know that I am not guilty
and that no one can rescue me from your hand?” (Job 10:3-7)
He questioned the God who created him. And that is what makes Job remarkable – that even during the toughest time in his life, he knew who he had to talk to. He knew that bringing his hurt, pain and anger to God is the best thing he could do in that situation. He was going through a challenging season but he still sought an encounter with God.
“20 I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
I stand up, but you merely look at me.
21 You turn on me ruthlessly;
with the might of your hand you attack me.
22 You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;
you toss me about in the storm.
23 I know you will bring me down to death,
to the place appointed for all the living” (Job 30:20-23)
He knew that only God could justify and vindicate him. Many times in our lives when we go through trials and pruning, we turn to things – alcohol, drugs, relationships, food, etc. to solve our problem. We put God as the last option. When everything else has failed, that’s the time we remember Him and His goodness. But Job, on the other hand, he knew that his fight was with God, the one who created him and he sought for an audience to the one who knows him inside and out, the one who created him. Job knew of God’s character – that He is merciful, that He is faithful, that He is just so it was not difficult for Job to approach the one who created him and this world.
Job eagerly sought the face of God because He wanted to bring up his case to the One he knew would be able to justify him.
“But I desire to speak to the Almighty
and to argue my case with God.” (Job 13:3)
While he listened to the counsel of his friends, he knew that only God can help him at that time. What’s more remarkable with Job was that more than his desire for his suffering to be taken away, he first and foremost, yearned for the presence of God. He knew that God’s mere presence is balm enough for the ache and anger in his soul. When God finally answered Job’s cries, he was repentant and his anger has dissipated.
“1 Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)
Job’s tone changed, his demeanor has shifted and faced with God’s majesty and greatness, he sought forgiveness in humility. That’s what an encounter with the Almighty can do. Though questions may be unanswered and suffering remain, God’s presence is enough to change us and our perspective. Even in the worst storms of our lives, we know that God is faithful when we humbly and earnestly seek Him.