This is the second in a series of posts responding to a comment from Jeffery Adams. In the last post we looked at the pain and suffering of Job as he dealt with the loss of possessions, servants, and all of his children. Job’s response to these events was to respond to his great God in worship. As the text of Job says:
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.
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.”
God says that in his sorrow Job kept perfect balance and did not sin or charge God with wrong. Next, Satan is given permission to attack Job’s body. And attack it he does. Job is inflicted with painful sores or boils from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head. The result was agony all over his body. He was literally covered with physical pain. Combine this constant pain with the grief from his losses listed in the first chapter, and Job’s condition was overwhelming. The situation was so devastating that Job’s wife came to him and told Job to give up. Listen to her words:
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 2:9
Her challenge was a condemnation of all that Job was as a man. His wife had seen his concern for his children. She had seen his prayers and hatred of evil. She had seen that he was a man who put God first in all of his life. She had seen how Job’s emotion’s had led him to God rather than away from God. But even with all of that, she did still did not comprehend the depth of Job’s faith in God. She was telling Job to give up the things that had guided his life to that point. She was saying are you naïve enough to still think that serving God has any value? Accept it Job, God is repaying your faithfulness with nothing but pain and agony. You can stop acting like it matters to fear God. Curse God and die.
The words of Job’s wife were based upon a human’s understanding of the physical world. But Job knew that the physical world was not the same as the real world. Job’s wife was confusing the physical world with the real world. Job, however, in the midst of his agony, still had his feet firmly planted in the real world. Job, like Abraham, had a vision for a city that could not be seen, but whose builder and architect is God. Job, like Paul, was able to fix his eyes on what was unseen, because he knew that the unseen is more real than the physical world that can be seen. So, once again, Job’s emotions worked for him, even in the agony of physical suffering. Job responded to his wife’s challenge with words from the real world:
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. (Job 2:10)
Job told his wife she was speaking as if there were no God. In Hebrew poetry, we are told that a fool is one who says that there is no God. By responding as if the physical world was, in fact, all there was to the real world, Job’s wife was discounting the reality of God. Then, Job demonstrated his integrity in his dealings with God in all of his life. At each point in his life when he received good things from God, he knew it was not because he deserved these things or had earned them, but that he was receiving God’s blessing. Job lived in the real world. God is God. He can do as he pleases, and whatever he does is right and just. In effect, he was saying, Who do we think are to believe that God must only do what we like in this world? Again, the Holy Spirit commends the words of Job.
While it took Job a life time to come to this clear perspective about what the real world–God’s world–is all about, it does not have to take you that long. You can begin believing in God’s integrity by faith, by thinking consistently about God as Job did. You can pray for your emotions to begin to work for you as Job’s did. You can live this life in front of your children and others. If you are in Jeffrey’s position you can see that God is good and just in all things, no matter how chaotic they may appear. You can begin to pray earnestly for God to give you the same kind of integrity that Job demonstrated. You can pray that you would learn to say, from a heart filled with awe and biblical fear of God, that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.
We have at least one more point to consider. This has to do with the first item that Jeffrey raised – the appropriateness of cursing. Job’s wife urged Job to curse God because things had turned out so badly. Job refused to do this. However, as chapter 3 begins, Job utters his first words after seven days of silent mourning with his friends: Job curses the day he was born.
More in the next post.