I have a friend who is going through some tough times right now. Part of their struggle is what we all struggle with: faith. No matter how much we love God and how close we get to Him, we can never have “the right amount” of faith. We simply can’t rely on Him enough. In talking to him about faith, keeping the faith, and forgiveness, I suggested reading Job. For those of you that aren’t super familiar with scripture and specifically with Job, it’s not exactly light reading. It starts off just fine – telling the story of Job and how blessed he is. He is the richest and happiest man in the area, and he lives a life that’s pleasing to God. One day Satan is talking to God about Job. God defends Job and says:
“Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”
Satan’s response to this is that Job’s life is easy – God has blessed him. Why wouldn’t he be upright and faithful with such a cushy life? God then gives Satan permission to test Job – to hit him with hard times and trials so his faith can be proven. First, he takes everything Job has – his livestock, his servants, his children… everything, but doesn’t hurt Job. Job’s response to this is amazing:
“Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said,
‘I came naked from my mother’s womb,
and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!
In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.”
I’m floored by this. Knowing myself and my faith, I would have broken. I would be furious with God. Job’s response is to praise God. Now, it goes on and gets worse – Job’s health is taken from him. He is covered from head to toe in boils and miserable all the time – not eating, not drinking, and wanting death. Job’s friends come to support him and be with him – then over half the book is Job and his friends sitting around naked grieving, talking, and complaining.
Job never renounces God.
Long story short, after everyone sits around and complains for a long time, God shows up and lets Job know what’s going on. He reminds him that He (God) is in control and fashioned everything in the world – Job had nothing to do with it. After a few chapters of God reminding Job that he had nothing to do with this, God demands that he answers some questions. Here’s his response:
“Then Job replied to the Lord:
‘I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
You asked, “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?”
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
You said, “Listen and I will speak!
I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.”
I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.'”
Watch how the story ends:
“When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of moneyt and a gold ring.
So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters.”
“Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. 17 Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.”
-Job 42:10-13, 16-17
There is so much to learn with this it’s hard to pick where to start. What I choose to take from this is that I want a faith like Job. When everything falls down around him and everyone is telling him to just give up (his wife tells him to just curse God and die so it’s all over with), even though he messes up and forgets the character of God and who He is, he doesn’t renounce his faith. In fact, when it comes to head, he apologizes, admits he was wrong, and asks for forgiveness. Then God comes back and blesses him even more than He did originally (thanks, Allyson for pointing this out).
From this, I choose to try to model my faith after Job. I pray I never experience anything this catastrophic, but if I do, I pray that I’ll keep my faith and remember who God is to me. My prayer from this “God, please help me to have faith like Job. Even when things aren’t easy, please keep my reliance on You. You are infinitely more powerful and loving that I can even comprehend, and reliance on you is the only way I can make it through anything in life. Help me to believe more in You.”