Job 1: That Which No Tragedy Can Take from Us
November 1, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The famous Book of Job is the Bible’s preeminent resource for the much-vexed subject of suffering. Why do people suffer? Why does God allow suffering? Throughout this book, through the experience of Job, we will explore the Old Testament’s best answer to that difficult question. And at the same time, we will be pointed towards the ultimate solution to our suffering—the suffering Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection.
The setup in this chapter is beautiful—and terrible. Job is presented as an archetypal righteous man. He has done well for himself; he is rich. But he is not just rich, he is also righteous. He has done well by doing good. Then along comes the adversary of all mankind, Satan, the devil. He asks God for permission to put Job to the test—to see if Job would still worship God when all the goods that God had given him were taken away. All through the book we find the answer to that question being shown: Job will come through all this suffering with an even stronger relationship with God.
The story of Job raises many questions, as does this first chapter. Why does God allow Satan to inflict suffering upon Job? One answer is that this book, and this chapter, reveals an unfamiliar pattern of God’s response to evil. Nowhere is God the author evil. Certainly God is in charge of Satan. I think it was Martin Luther who said that the devil is God’s devil—meaning that even the devil is under God’s sovereign control. How does that work? Job does not answer the philosophical questions related to suffering and evil, but he does tell a story where a person who goes through unconscionable pain still emerges stronger with his faith than before.
The key is a reliance on God’s sovereignty. Job’s words, often repeated at funerals, are exemplary in this regard:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (1:21).
Everything that Job had was from God in the first place. Naked he came into this world; naked he will depart. The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
When true tragedy strikes, the Christian leans not on what he does not know but on what he does know. Who, in times of profound suffering, has the mental energy, the philosophical fortitude, to consider the academic questions of the origin of evil? It is not that such questions are unimportant, nor that that there are no answers to those questions. But suffering is not the place to find merely theoretical answers. Those in pain will know that the trials they face are deeply practical. And the answer to that relies in what we know rather than what we do not know: the goodness of God is in the sure foundation of a living faith even in the face of evil.
Doubt that? Consider Job. In this first chapter he has had all his property and all his children destroyed in one devastating blow administered punch after punch. It would be enough to sink most men’s faith. But not Job’s. Why? Ultimately, he worships God, not what he gets from God. In the end he trusts in the goodness of a sovereign God rather than what he gets from that God.
Take time today reflecting on who God is—and who you are. Naked we enter this world; naked we will leave it. All we have is from God. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. But still: blessed be the name of the Lord. Why? Because the goodness of God is something that no one and nothing can take away from us. We have that which no tragedy can touch, no evil can tarnish, and no human can ruin. We, in Christ, are God’s: all is yours, the world, life, death, the present, the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3:21).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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