Human struggle – the trials and tests of life – are the level ground we all share. Having it all together and being successful is not a guarantee of immunity from harm or trial. Today we see this in the life of Job, who loses everything and still worships God…
1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.
4 His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.
We know the story of Job: man loses everything and still worships God. Today we see what we can learn about him before his trial. There is a prologue to the great attack of Satan and the temptation and testing of the loyal Job. Let’s see what we can learn about him.
Job was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. That’s the goal in a nutshell, isn’t it? We want to be upright folks whom no one can blame for wrong-doing or evil. We want to respect and revere God (that’s what ‘fear’ means) and take the high roads in life. That’s what Job did. He was our ultimate example of a solid follower of God and a family man.
Job had a large family: seven sons and three daughters. Job’s family was close-knit, which we see in the way they relate to each other. The sons would hold feasts in their homes to celebrate their birthdays and the three sisters would come and celebrate with them. Again, we desire to have families which are like this. Coming together to celebrate holidays and birthdays, we desire for our families to want to be together and enjoy each others’ company.
In terms of riches, Job was the wealthiest person in the East, with thousands of animals and a great number of servants. He was a very successful farmer, which, with the other characteristics thrown in, would have made him very respected in his region.
Finally, Job cared for the spiritual well-being of his family. The example is given of Job making arrangements for his children to be purified after their feasts, in case they had sinned before God. It was Job’s regular custom to intercede for each of them in a priestly role before the Lord.
Wouldn’t you like to be like Job? We probably would, yet we are about to find out that having it all together and being successful is not a guarantee of immunity from harm or tribulation. Job is about to be wrung out like a wet cloth. Lest we think that the grass is greener in Job’s pastures, those who follow God with big, loving families and worldly success struggle just like those without.
Human struggle – the trials and tests of life – are the level ground we share. The trials look different in different contexts, yet struggle is common to all of us. We will see how Job handles it. We also need to keep our eyes on our hope as we reflect on Job’s life. Job’s story happens long before Jesus was sent to earth from heaven.
We have the advantage and hope of Jesus in our lives. And so, even as Jesus promises that we will have trouble in this world (John 16:33), he proclaims that we can take heart because he has overcome the world. Lean on Jesus as you struggle, and as we read through Job, never forget that Jesus is there for us…