“And the Lord said unto Satan, have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8). For background information, please read the book of Job.
Job, the richest man in all the eastern country called Edom, lost all his wealth in one day, and in that same day, a tornado crushed the house and killed all ten of his children, seven sons and three daughters. Job tore his clothes, shaved his head and fell down on the ground and worshipped, saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb. . . the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:18-22).
In addition, God allowed Satan to afflict Job with sores (ulcers, boils), from the top of his head to the soles of his feet, leaving him unrecognizable. He sat in an ash heap, scraping himself with broken pottery. James writes, “Take the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering affliction and of patience. . . you have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord. . . very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:10-11).
The Lord had permitted Satan to do this to Job, only not take his life. Even his wife forsook him by saying, “Do you still claim you are a man of integrity? Curse God and die” (2:9). In poverty, bereaved of his children, falsely accused by his wife, and yet, “in all of this, Job did not sin with his lips” (2:10).
Even his three life long friends, very aged, much older than Job’s father, came to bemoan and comfort him. Job’s face was so disfigured that his friends did not recognize him and sat silent for a week before they spoke (Job 2:11-13). One by one, they accused Job of living a double life, of being a hypocrite, and that if he were righteous; God would not let him suffer so. “Wickedness is sweet in his mouth, and he hides it under his tongue.” Job said, “What is my strength that I should hope? What is my end that I should prolong my life? (6:11). He wanted to bypass his counselors and speak with God directly. “O that I might find Him! That I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before Him and fill my mouth with arguments” (23:1-4).
The Lord answered Job, humbling him by asking, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? . . . He who argues with God, let him answer” (38:1-4; 40:2). Some 20 questions were asked of Job. He could not answer one of them (38:1-30).
Finally Job was completely humbled, admitting “I spoke things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know . . . I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (42:3-6). Then God thrashed the three friends for slandering Job (42:7). Job’s problem (like yours and mine) was never to live a double life, but only pride and self-righteousness.
Job again was on praying terms with God, and when Job had prayed for his friends, God restored all of his possessions, giving him twice as much wealth as he had before. Apparently his wife had also repented and gave Job seven sons and three daughters (42:13). His life was extended 140 years, allowing him to enjoy his grandchildren. “So Job died, being old and full of years” (42:13-17).
The book of Job puts man in his place, showing how impudent is a creature accusing his creator, and challenging him for debate (23:3-4). It also proves that God in his desire to save men will allow Satan to tempt them. Often good people, who have not violated God’s laws, have bad health, sometimes terminal illnesses. After days of affliction, and after listening to God’s rebuke, Job was a changed man, a new creature, repenting in “Dust and ashes” (42:6).
Listen to the writer of Hebrews when he says, “Now no chastening (discipline) for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).
Bible scholars define the book of Job by a big word; a “Theodicy”” (Theos, God, plus dike, justice). It shows the vindication of divine justice in allowing the existence of evil. I am the first to admit, that while I admire the Book of Job, I don’t understand it. The existence of suffering always ends with the question of “Why?”, or better still, “Why me?” (Romans 9:20). Perhaps it’s best summed up in the words of the poet.
“Who has not suffered does not know, all that God would have him know; he has not learned the patient trust, that those who suffer bravely must. He has not seen faith’s star arise, across the grayest midnight skies. nor clung to hope that lights the way, Across the grayest bleakest day. Nor waited quietly aware, of God’s beyond unanswered prayer. He has not known how deep a peace, may follow some sweet sure release, who has not suffered does not know, all that God would have him know.”