The book of Job is truly one the most amazing stories in the entire Bible.
And the first thing that probably comes to your mind when you think of Job is suffering.
Now we often think to ourselves that suffering must mean that we have done something wrong. (Just like we often mistakenly think that when things are going well for us, we must be doing something right.) But why did Job suffer the way he did? Did he deserve to suffer that way?
Yes and no.
Yes, is the sense that all suffering & misery in this life is the result of sin.
Yes, in the sense that, as sinners, we all deserve misery. (And, truth be told, it is a wonder of God’s grace that we do not suffer more than we do.) As the Westminster Shorter Catechism reminds us:
“Q.19 What is the misery of that estate wherein man fell? A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under His wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever”
But no, in the sense that Job was not subjected to the extremes of suffering that he was because of some particular sin(s) in his life. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Look at what the LORD says 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?” (Job 1:8)
So Job got “volunteered” for this particular trial, not because he was doing something wrong, but because there was no one on earth who served and feared God quite like him! Think about that for just a minute.
And so Job was about to have the bad day to end all bad days. He had such a tragic day, that his very name has become synonymous with suffering. Everyone else’s suffering is invariably weighed against his for comparison’s sake.
In v.13-19 he loses pretty much everything – his possessions (livestock), servants, and all of his children! And the reports of these tragic losses came one right after the other. Twice the text says, “While he was yet speaking, there came another . . . .” One person’s report of Job’s loss wasn’t even finished when the next one started!
And what was Job’s reaction? How did he respond?
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” (Job 1:20)
He mourned, he grieved, but he worshiped the LORD in the midst of all that was happening to him.
And then he uttered some of the most well-known words in the entire Old Testament:
“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.”” (Job 1:21)
And in case we missed the point, the writer tells us, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (v.22)
Does suffering keep us from worshiping? Do we mistakenly charge God with wrong in the midst of it? There are no easy answers or hollow platitudes in the book of Job. But what it does tell us is that no matter what happens, “Blessed be the name of the LORD” (v.21).