Our church has finished a long sermon series about the book of Job. Before that, the ladies’ Bible study went through the book of Job in two meetings. So I have had some time to think about Job and his friends, God and Satan.
When the ladies went through it quickly (using a study book by Nancy Guthrie), I remember identifying with the three friends who came to “comfort” Job. They had good intentions, I’m sure they were doing their best, they could have employed a little more tact but they were still friends. And I remember being reassured that Job “got it” at the end. He understood about salvation and the supreme rule of God over all things. I was happy that Job was comforted. There was a certain amount of triumph even before God restored everything back to Job.
I came out of the long sermon series differently. Job became more real because it was about real suffering. We’re not all Jobs with that extreme amount of loss and humility, but none-the-less we all experience a measure of loss and humility. We react in ups and downs much as Job does. His friends ended up being jerks. I wanted to tell them to shut their mouths and leave. There were times when Job should have shut his mouth, too. Elihu had some decency, some godly wisdom, but even he didn’t get EVERYTHING right. Satan puts pressure on Job and all humanity around Job reacts in ways that are both good and bad, too often bad.
Humans are a fickle bunch. That’s what I learned. Even when we try to be helpful and righteous, it doesn’t come out the right way. Or it comes out right from one perspective but wrong from another. True righteousness is not something we can reach on our own. God upheld Job even when Job felt sunk so low he wished he hadn’t been born. Goodness comes from God. Hope comes from God. Despair comes from a turning-away of man from God. Even toward the end, when Job understood more about God’s position in his life, he still had some roller-coaster emotions. Understanding does not come completely. Do you think Job completely understood even after everything was restored to him in double portions? No, not completely. He probably still suffered mentally, even then. Restoration of earthly happiness does not equal restoration with God. We are all being sanctified until the time when we will be made perfect. The process of sanctification means we are not complete. But earthly circumstances do not affect the outcome of that sanctification.