The greatest challenge that we have at present is not just surviving this pandemic, it is surviving this pandemic with our faith and integrity intact. Traumatic events have a way of revealing what’s in us, while at the same time changing us. These circumstances and conditions either make us bitter or they make us better.
Job’s suffering isn’t unlike our suffering. The specifics Job’s suffering might be different. The prognosis of Job’s sickness might be different. Job’s financial ruin might not be ours. But there is something about Job’s situation that resembles ours. The cloud of questions that surround Job’s suffering is something that we can all relate to. Job knew not why his suffering began and he knew not where it would end. In Job chapter 1 the poor man was bombarded with one bit of bad news after the next. First Job’s property was destroyed. Then his children were killed. After that his health taken from him. All of this occured as a result of a plan that he knew nothing about. God and Satan had reached an agreement on a plan that would test Job’s integrity, and his faith. Although we are surrounded by many questions about our current situation. We can trust in the fact that God is not caught off guard by what is going on. The question is not how will God respond to our crisis? God cannot respond to things that he knew about before the beginning of time. The real question is how will we respond to our crisis?
I am thankful for Job because although he lost his children, his money, his property and his health. He did not lose his faith. Physically and financially he did not escape unscathed, but somehow he managed to keep his faith in God intact. The challenge for us is to navigate this crisis while keeping our faith whole. There were three areas of Job’s life and in all of our lives that will either help us or hinder us from making it through this intact.
First, Job’s wife is an important fixture in this season of Job’s life, and unfortunately for Job she is an unavoidable fixture in Job’s life. Job’s wife is the type of person you don’t want to be confined with during this season. Her negativity and terrible advice could cause a weak person to surrender their faith. Job’s wife asks Job if he will still hold fast to his integrity after all that has transpired.
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
This the first time we hear her speak, and the words that come from her mouth are not words of comfort, but words of criticism. I think it is important that we pay attention to the way Job’s wife is introduced. Job’s loss was her loss. Those were her children that dad. It was her well being that had been stripped from her. This was her husband who was sick. Her introduction is not a good one. First impressions are lasting impressions, and my impression of Job’s wife is not a good one. Many argue that what she says here is out of compassion for her husband and his suffering. She’d rather Job curse God and die than to watch him suffer the way he was suffering. Maybe it did come from a place of compassion but her response to suffering teaches us a lot about her faith.
Job’s wife represents the type of person whose response to tragedy and trials is to let go of faith because in her mind, if it cannot solve your immediate problems immediately then it is not worth holding onto. This is an incorrect view of faith in God. as a matter of fact, this type of relationship with God is not faith. It is consumerism. God is only as valuable to Job’s wife as his ability to improve her situation on her terms and according to her timeline. To Job’s wife, a God who allows fluctuation in prosperity, is not a God worth trusting. Job’s wife is an example of flaky faith. People with flaky faith can influence your faith for better or for worse.
Although Job’s wife was a negative influence on Job’s life in the season. Job’s wife was still a necessary part of Job’s faith. Job’s wife tested Job in a way that Satan could not. Notice how eerily similar her words in are to Satan’s words in .
5 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”
3 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”
Satan was sure that if the Lord allowed him to touch Job’s flesh Job would curse God. Job indeed suffers infirmity to his flesh and then his wife encourages him to curse God. People are sometimes used to test our faith. It was not personal. As his wife, I’m sure that she loved Job. Her words were just a ploy apart of the bigger plot to test Job’s faith. We should not take things so personal. The world does not revolve around us. Our lives are apart of a larger story that the Lord is writing. Job’s wife was a necessary part of firming Job’s faith during this time. It is important for us to understand that our faith will be tested. Sometimes those test will come from the company you keep. Don’t allow bad company to corrupt good character.
Secondly, Job’s wife brings into question Job’s integrity. Many lessons can be learned from Job’s suffering because he is presented in chapter one as an upright man who is blameless. It was hard for Job’s wife, and Job’s friends to understand how he could be the victim of so many horrible tragedies if he was really that innocent. Suffering was equated to sin. There had to be something that Job had done to cause this suffering. Had they had any inside information on the agreement God had with Satan then they would have been confident in Job’s innocence and blameless. But since they did not they tried to conjure up a cause for why Job had experienced what he had experienced. I believe sometimes when we don’t know why God is doing what God is doing we can do more harm than good by speculating.
Job’s integrity before his suffering was impressive, but I believe that Job’s integrity after his suffering was even more impressive. I believe that what made it so impressive is because the temptation to sin would have been made easy to succumb to given the radical conditions he found himself in. The radical conditions in which he was tempted in a way resembles the radical conditions Christ found himself in when he was tempted by Satan. After being in the wilderness and fasting for 40 days Satan comes and tempts Jesus. Most tests do not come under ideal conditions. It has been said that faith that has not been tested cannot be trusted and in order to get a good reading of one’s faith in God they are most often tested in moments of weakness. Job’s integrity is tested by his wife. At this moment, Job had nothing to left to lose, but he remained steadfast in his convictions and he held fast to his integrity.
Moments like the ones we are experiencing now are moments of revelation for us as individuals. If you want to know what’s in a person, let them be placed under a press of less than favorable circumstances. Right now, the whole world is under that press. We are not forced to reckon with just one area of our lives being threatened, but this pandemic has threatened several areas of our lives. We have to worry about getting sick, getting paid, and getting back to normal. For the most part we don’t know when any of those may or may not occur. It is during this time that you will find out what’s inside of you. Job proved to be the man God said that he was. He did not waver nor did he let his spouse coerce him to make a statement that was not becoming of who he was. Job held fast and he kept the faith. I want to encourage all of us, myself included, to not be overcome by the voices in the media and the voices in our head. Don’t allow your faith nor your peace to be corrupted. Trust that the same God who gave us days of peace and prosperity is present in the midst of a cloud of questions. Don’t allow what’s going on to spoil your faith.
Lastly, and probably most important to Job’s ability to survive his suffering was his faith. Job was able to pass the test of faith passed out by Satan primarily because Job had a sure anchor to hold on to. Job’s faith served as an anchor to keep him steady in unsteady times. Just as his wife’s response to tragedy was to curse God, Job’s response to tragedy was to trust God. Why after all of this would Job want to trust in God? Well had Job decided not to trust in God and take his wife’s advice, Job would have never lived to see chapter 42. In chapter 42 God gave Job double for his trouble. God returned everything that Job lost two fold. Job’s faith was rewarded, but it was not easy.
I think if we were to read the book in its entirety we would find encouragement in the fact that even the faithful Job had moments where he questioned God. Job’s questions were not a sign of his lack of faith. Rather, Job’s questions further proved that Job knew that God knew what God was doing. What a blessing it is to know that even when we don’t know, God knows. Job allowed his faith to influence his responses and the natural response for someone with faith is to go to God.
Job’s faith gave him a world view that allowed him to put things in proper perspective.
10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
First Job understood it to be a foolish thing to curse God. Meaning those who curse God in all of this hold a worthless and Godless perspective. This is why it does not benefit us to pay them too much attention. His faith helped him to deal with the voices around him. With so much being said about where we are in history and what’s going on in our world we need strong faith to help us sift through the worthless voices and words and find words of wisdom and encouragement.
Job’s faith not only gave him a healthy perspective on humans, it also gave him a healthy perspective of the happenings. Job says to his wife, shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” His faith helped him to understand that he was completely at the mercy of God. The Lord gives and the Lord taketh away. When we understand that we are at the mercy of God we will surrender our well being to him. We must trust the Lord to give us what we need, when we need it, not on our terms but on his terms. It was Job’s faith that kept him from sinning with his lips. To come out of this pandemic with a healthy mind and piece of peace, we are going to have to tap into faith in the darkest of moments.
Questions and uncertainty can drive us into some deep dark places, but we have to trust God even when we can’t see him. If we have not learned anything else from COVID-19 we have learned just how much influence invisible agents can have on the entire world. I’m thankful for that lesson because it helps me to remember that there is an invisible agent that is king over every other invisible agent. He has power over everything seen and unseen. God, although not seen, is still in control of this entire world. It is our faith in that fact that will help us to get through difficult days.