The Hardships of Job and You

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil...The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Job 1:1,8 (NASB)

I have been thinking quite a bit about the hardships I see affecting so many people around me. I cannot think of a time since the 1970's during which so many are suffering from economic reversal, and the loss of homes and jobs and fortunes. It is a sorrowful time for several people I know as what they have worked so hard for over decades of years evaporates into cyberspace. They feel cheated by their circumstances and some will even confess to feeling cheated by God. I have heard people ask what the point is in being a good person and living a righteous life when it doesn't appear there is a "break" for them for the effort.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job 2:9 (NASB)

I wonder if that was the overriding thought of Job's wife as she observed her completely broken down husband. He was physically disintegrating, full of boils, and oozing sores on top of his broken heart at the loss of his children. I would venture a guess that he was not pleased at the loss of all his possessions too, but I bet that paled in comparison to losing his children.

But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:10 (NASB)

The major difference revealed in the response of Job as compared to his wife was his understanding of the sovereignty of God. Job understood that the hardships he was facing were an aspect of God's revealed will in his life. He really understood that God is the sovereign God of the universe and He has the right to do what He wants with what is His.

Just because Job understood sovereignty, that did not mean that he was supposed to be stoic about the whole tragedy befalling him. It did not mean that he could not be sorrowful or devastated at what was taking place! As I read through the laments of Job and the response of God I take away the reality that God completely understood Job's emotions, He understood the human reactions, the questioning and the confusion that marked Job's monologues. When you are in the midst of the heartache, it is okay to cry and grieve. God knows, and He understands.

This was something I really struggled with a few years ago. While I was in the middle of a fiery trial, I was experiencing my humanity and wrestling with those who did not think my reactions were very godly. My responses were those of confusion and questioning God, and some around me took issue with me in the midst of my grief and sorrow. I knew God was sovereign over all those events and yet...it still hurt so deeply. And because so many knew that I know what I know the expectation was so high for me to be superhuman in my responses. It was then that I decided not to take that approach with other who are in the refining fires of hardship.

Friends, can I admonish you to be gentle with one another? Those who have life crashing in on them don't need your condemnation for their emotions, they need your love and you support. Of course, I am not encouraging you to allow sin to run unchecked, but I am asking you to be very discerning in how you approach the hurting "Job's" in your lives. When the hurting soul appears before you, simply love them as Christ would have loved them. There will be a time for correction and reproof later, for now, just love them.