“And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’ Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’ And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” – Job 1:8-12
The Book of Job has been a puzzler through the ages. It is the story of a righteous man who loved the Lord gone horribly wrong! Job was doing all the right things and experiencing God’s favor, but the story takes a radical turn as we read in our Scripture today. Result: Job loses everything. Through natural disasters and tragedies our hero is completely devastated. And to make matters worse, it seems God Himself had a hand in it. Why? Was God playing some kind of cruel game with Job’s life?
Some of the frustration in reading Job comes because we are asking the wrong questions or, more accurately, not asking the right questions. First, we need to remember that the purpose of the Bible is to reveal to us truths about God and how He interacts with His creation. There are several things I think we can learn and that can help us understand Job’s story. These insights will also help us in looking at other stories in the Bible and in our own lives. So, to begin with, we must ask, “What does this story reveal to us about God?”
Our God is one that continually tests our faith whether through trials or blessings. The truth is that only a faith that is tested can become stronger. This is not the first time a faithful follower has been “tested” by the Lord. Remember the testing of Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22? That was uncomfortable! It was outrageous! Sometimes it even seems that God purposely tries to trip us up. The garden would have been great if He hadn’t put that tree there! To begin with, there are differences between temptations, trials and testing.
Temptation is something that comes from within us when we are “lured and enticed by our own desires” (see; James 1:14). So, temptation is always present when we are given a choice to follow God’s direction or not. The “freedom to choose” comes from God, but the temptation to make the wrong choice does not (James 1:13).
Trials, on the other hand, are part of everyone’s life. They are the struggles, challenges, sufferings, and circumstances that make life difficult to maneuver. Life has it’s ups and downs, sorrows and celebrations. It is a broken world and life can be unfair. Jesus said that it rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Our faith is our strength and determines how we get through those trying times.
Testing is something that God brings or allows to come into our life for the purpose of building up and fortifying our faith. All of life is a “test” of sorts. Every circumstance or situation (temptations, trials and blessings) gives an opportunity to exercise our faith in God. Satan was questioning the basis of his faith, “Of course he loves you when everything is going great, but if it wasn’t…” Satan was saying that Job’s faith was situational and based on the rewards he received…not on God.
How about you? What is your faith based on? The blessings that we have received or the One who has given them? Is our faith based on the situation or built on the firm foundation?
YES, there will be a test. Our God continually allows our faith to be tested. Like the muscles in our physical bodies our spiritual muscles must be exercised. This is another revelation we find in the Bible from “cover to cover”.