Do you ever feel like you are the target for disaster? If I had been Job, I think I would have been overwhelmed with that thought!
Job is a book that is said to come chronologically some time before Moses and the book of Exodus … even though it is found close to the middle of the Bible. I like things ordered so thought that this should be the next book that I journal in the Old Testament.
At the beginning of Job we read about the man that the book is named after. He is incredibly blessed with wealth, health and family. After learning this, we eavesdrop on a conversation between GOD and Satan.
GOD highlights Job to Satan. He points him out after Satan has been roaming the earth, making sure that Satan is aware of Job.
Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’ Job 1:8
And Satan responds.
9 ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. 10 ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’ Job 1:9-11
But GOD does something unexpected, He agrees with Satan to attack Job – but please note GOD gives limits to Satan that he has to keep to because GOD is the highest authority and Satan is just a fallen angel.
12 The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. Job 1:12
Job was a blameless and upright man who feared GOD and shunned evil, yet he faced the most horrendous circumstances after this conversation. His family, wealth and health are all destroyed. Fire falls and burns up his sheep and servants, three raiding parties steal the camels and kill the servants and a mighty wind causes the house to collapse on his sons and daughters.
After all this has happened we hear GOD say that it is without any reason (Job 2:3) that Job suffered. But since GOD had pointed Job out to Satan, and set him up as a target, I have other thoughts. If GOD had just ignored Job and hadn’t highlighted him, none of this would have happened. So is GOD lying? Not at all, I think this refers to the fact that Job’s suffering was not due to his own sin and mistakes. This will be an essential detail in reading the rest of the book … bad stuff doesn’t always happen to bad people and doesn’t necessarily happen because it is our fault.
This opening page shows me that bad stuff happens to righteous people too. There is a temptation to complain when life seems unfair, and it can quickly turn to bitter talk when those that are “bad” get blessed instead of you. Why is that and how could GOD let that happen? I know that there have been times when I have felt the burn of injustice and wondered what was going on. So if you are going through something hard right now, be it to do with family, finances or health, remember GOD redeems you and has poured out His wrath on His son (when he died on the cross in your place) so that He can pour out His love on you.
I think that the world says that if you are good and do good stuff you deserve good. It seems that the very beginning of the book of Job backs this up. It shows us that this blameless and upright man had been blessed by GOD so much so that he was described as the greatest man among all the people of the East (verse 3). GOD looked on Job and loved what He saw. He saw Job’s actions and lifestyle. GOD knew Job and Job knew GOD.
The extraordinary thing about Job’s story is that GOD knew what He was doing and knew that Job had the potential to become an even better man. Even in this rubbish, GOD would work in it and through it to reach out to Job and his friends. GOD works in all things, good and bad, to bring us clearer revelation of Him.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
We learn here that Job did not sin by charging GOD with wrongdoing or by what he said. Job’s heart, mind and soul were focused on GOD. His words reflected what was stored in his heart. In fact, the only things he said were that GOD gives and takes away, that His name is to be praised and that is foolish to curse GOD. These are wise words that should be taken seriously and deeply. They are strong words that cut right to the core of us, knowing that our human nature is offended by them. We have a sense of entitlement that has to bow low to the GOD of all creation. Our inescapable human need to worship has to be readjusted and turned away from ourselves and what we want or our suffering – it must point towards GOD, our creator. Only then will praise be on our lips when we are in the midst of difficulties. No matter what, no matter how painful the only positive way through it is to praise GOD.
We do not see the final scene at this first act in Job, neither do we see that in our lives. I need to be someone who praises His name in all circumstances and trust in Him who is able to more than I can ask or imagine. GOD can and will use all things to shoot into the centre of the target in our hearts. GOD could have ignored Job and not highlighted him but He had other plans for Job. Job was a target for GOD’s mercy, kindness, transforming … even if we don’t understand that or even see that in the midst of the suffering. I don’t want GOD to ignore me but to change me. It is dangerous to pray it but … Come Lord, I’m a target, shoot at me!