The Story Begins
Unlike my previous post about Eve, the Bible tells us a lot of information about Job (42 chapters worth!) Job was said to be the “most faithful” of all God’s servants. “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:1) He had seven sons and three daughters for a total of ten children. He also had 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yokes of oxen, 500 donkeys, and many servants (Job 1:3). In other words, Job was not only faithful to God, but he was very blessed. Job’s name means “persecuted one” and is very fitting.
In Job 1:6, we see the beginning of what would be an extremely worrisome, grievous, and trying time for Job. God tells us that the Sons of God (including Satan) came to inquire about who they could consider. God asked Satan “Have you considered my servant Job?” (Job 1:8). God gives very specific instructions, he is allowing Satan to test him- but not to kill him or hurt him. All of his earthly possessions are fair game, however as we see in verse 12.
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your [f]power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:12)Job 1:12, New American Standard Bible
Job loses his [earthly] possessions and children
Job first lost his servant by the sword (Job 1:15). He then lost his sheep and more servants (Job 1:16), he lost his camels and even more servants (Job 1:17).
While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” (Job 1:18-19)
Perhaps the most tragic loss of all would be his children. The Bible tells us that the family seemed to be very close-knit. They often spent time with one another, and the brothers and sisters were friendly and close. They had a bond and would share meals together (Job 1:4).
Job’s response to loss
Job performed a ritual called “keriah”, which is the Jewish ceremony in which one rends or rips his clothing off in response to mourning. Job did this in verse 20, before lamenting to The LORD. It is evident Job had just suffered a great loss, but it was not until the loss of his children that he entered into the mourning process (Job 1:20).
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20)
What does this tell us about Job? When you lose a loved one, it is natural and normal to grieve and feel the loss. Throughout the Bible, there were specific times when individuals would grieve and specific methods in which they did so. Among these included the above-aforementioned keriah, as well as weeping, wailing, and wearing sackcloth and ashes.
Jesus tells us in Matthew that the ones who mourn are blessed. (Matthew 5:4). He also tells us that we will be comforted. This is a great thing! We should note that the standard grieving period in the Jewish culture was 7 days after burial. We see that Job had friends who came to mourn with him- they even sat on the ground with him for 7 days in silence (Job 2:13). Sometimes, silence is best when others are working through the death of a loved one.
Job’s Support System
As we progress through the story of Job, we see that he had three friends that came to mourn with him and comfort him:
Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. 13 Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great. (Job 2:11-13)Job 2:11-13, New American Standard Bible
Job continues to lament
What do we know about some of Job’s innermost thoughts and feelings beginning in Chapter 3? We are able to see a glimpse into the very great and real distress that Job is experiencing.
- Job wishes he had died at birth (Job 3:11). As somebody who has lost a child through miscarriage, this is a very profound and accurate statement. How many times have I cried out to God and wished I could have been able to go to heaven and be with my child? Some days the sorrow and grief are too intense to function. I imagine that Job felt the same way, in his mind- why bother having been born only to be put through so much misery?
- Job likens his desire to have had his mother suffer a miscarriage. “Or like a miscarriage which is [g]discarded, I would not be As infants that never saw light. (Job 3:16). WOW!
- Job has an anguished spirit “I will speak in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 7:11)
- Job had nightmares. “Then You frighten me with dreams And terrify me by visions; (Job 7:14). For several months I have wrestled with nightmares, so I can definitely relate to Job. There are times when it feels like my mind is being attacked from inside. During these times, I do my best to cry out to God and share with him my fear, pain, and, anguish. Isn’t it comforting that we can go to his presence day or night and he will hear us?
- Job has depression over his circumstances. “Now my days are swifter than a runner They flee away, they see no good.” (Job 9:25).
- Job was angry. “Your hands fashioned and made me [d]altogether And would You destroy me? Remember now, that You have made me as clay And would You turn me into dust again? (Job 10:8-9). I have had a significant amount of anger toward my circumstances. Anger in and of itself is not a sin. However; as we saw in Genesis- anger manifested as sin at times.
- Job felt insulted by God. “How long will you torment [b]me And crush me with words? (Job 19:2)
- Job felt defeated. “He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone And He has uprooted my hope like a tree. (Job 19:10) Feeling defeated is standard practice for those experiencing severe grief and loss.
So what do we know about all of the responses and emotions/feelings Job went through above? It tells us two things: First of all, it is normal. It is normal to have any and all of the above feelings when you are going through grief and loss. Secondly, it tells us that we are not alone- and nothing new is going on. In other words, we have a very relatable individual from the Bible in which we can identify with.
God’s response to Job
We see near the end of the book that God finally replies to Job. How many times have we felt like we cried out to God but he didn’t and doesn’t answer? I know there have been many times in the past few months where I felt like this. Nights of sorrow and sadness seem to last forever without an end in sight. However; God continues to hold me and remain faithful to take care of me.
- God asks Job where he was at the beginning of the earth (Job 38:4). God is showing Job that he has created everything in its time and he has been around since the beginning of time. Because of this, he knows every intimate detail of the earth and our lives.
- God reminds Job of his mighty power. “Have you [c]ever in your life commanded the morning, And caused the dawn to know its place, (Job 38:12)
- God reminds Job of his creation “Their offspring become strong, they grow up in the open field They leave and do not return to them. (Job 39:4)
Job’s repentance & confession
“I know that You can do all things And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” 4 ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You; 6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42 3-6)
Job finally realizes who God is and his mighty power to restore him. In Job 42, verses 3-6 above we see Job repenting. It is important to note that God never chastised Job for his feelings, only his reaction to those feelings. God not only had choice words for Job, but he had admonishment for Job’s friends who were less than helpful.
It came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.8 Now, therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will [a]accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord told them; and the Lord [b]accepted Job. (Job 42:7-9)
God restores Job
We know that God restored Job all of his possessions and children. We can learn some wonderful things from these final moments of Job’s life:
- Family is important The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold. 11 Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house, and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the Lord had brought on him. And each one gave him one [c]piece of money, and each a ring of gold. (Job 42: 10-11). We see in the above verse that Job’s family came to his aid. God ordained the family and we need one another. Just as Job’s brothers and sisters had come to comfort him, we have an eternal family that will comfort us.
- God gives us blessings beyond what we could imagine. “He had seven sons and three daughters. 14 He named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15 In all the land no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers.” (Job 42: 13-14) God gave Job his exact number of children back. How amazing and special!
- Job ended up living a fulfilled and full life. “After this, Job lived 140 years and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man and full of days.” (Job 42:16)
While we are given lots of information about Job (the good, bad, and, ugly!) We can learn a lot from his life.
- Nobody is immune or exempt from trials, especially Christians. Job was persecuted, Job had everything taken from him and never once cursed God. Christians are going to go through trials and tribulations, bad stuff is going happen to us at times. We may not always know the why of it, but we, like Job, should remain faithful to God.
- It is normal to feel a wide range of emotions in response to grief and loss. Job experienced great sorrow, depression, anxiety, and turmoil. These are very raw and real, but very common emotions and feelings.
- It is OK to be angry with and question God. God is strong and able. He can handle all of our emotional transference. And more than that, he wants us to call out to him for help in our times of trouble (Psalm 50:15, Psalm 91:15)
- Finally, we know that God is faithful and will restore us from our grief. We need to simply believe and trust that he has our best interest in mind. Even though we may not know the WHY, we do know the WHAT and the What is GOD. The LORD is there, he is close to the brokenhearted and he heals us when we are crushed (Psalm 34:18).