Pause for thought
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His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” But Job replied,You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. Job 2:9-10 NLT

In Job’s time, although not so different today, there were many gods to choose from.

If you were a fisherman you might want to try and especially please the god of the sea. If you were a shepherd you’d want the favor of the god of the pastures. If you were a hunter, then the god of hunting would be your choice. If you wanted a nice place to live and a strong family, the god of the hearth could help you out. If you were a warrior, then the god of war was a good one to have on your side!

Gods and goddesses were in abundance, covering every aspect of existence. The problem was that they were known to be capricious and fickle and if your plans didn’t turn out to your advantage, the belief was that you had not bribed the relevant god enough, or even worse, perhaps you had angered him/her and this was punishment. Maybe you could sacrifice your way out of a predicament, but perhaps you were just doomed!

As we have already pointed out, the identifying characteristic of Job, and the reason his story is still with us today, is that he did not believe in a panoply of gods, but instead was convinced of the existence of the God of everything and wanted a right relationship with Him.

The character trait frequently mentioned about Job is integrity.

Integrity as a word in English comes from the Latin word “integer”, meaning whole or complete.

Job’s faith in God was complete, he saw no need to “hedge his bets” by relying on any of the other gods available to him. But his wife was not as convinced.

We know almost nothing about Job’s wife except that she subscribed to the notion that Job was doomed, and all his efforts to be faithful to (his) God were futile. She believed in the notion that if your god wasn’t working out for you, you made a public declaration that you would have no more to do with it, and suffer the consequences, even if it was death! Job replies that this is foolish thinking and the scripture vindicates him.

In attacking Job, Satan certainly employed some very visible means — the loss of possessions and family. But perhaps the worst attacks were more subtle and insidious and psychological.

Satan attacks Job’s mind and belief system. He is worn down by pain and sleeplessness. So, under the cover of friendship, Satan attacks harder. Three (un)wise men hear of Job’s plight and come to sympathize with him.

When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words. Job 2:11-13 NLT

It says a lot for these three friends of Job and their sincerity in their concern for him that they are prepared to share silently in his misery for a week! The scripture seems to show that they were genuine in their desire to improve Job’s situation.

Eliphaz correctly recognizes the power, wisdom and righteousness of God, but then launches into a “blame the victim” speech:

Have you no fear of God, no reverence for him? Your sins are telling your mouth what to say. Your words are based on clever deception. Your own mouth condemns you, not I. Your own lips testify against you. Job 15:4-6 NLT

Bildad is not much better, blaming the calamities on Job’s now deceased children, and adding the accusation that Job is not praying sufficiently:

Your children must have sinned against him, so their punishment was well deserved. But if you pray to God and seek the favor of the Almighty, and if you are pure and live with integrity, he will surely rise up and restore your happy home. Job 8:4-6 NLT

Zophar chimes in to attack the genuineness of Job’s faith, with the rider that Job is probably getting off lightly!

You claim, ‘My beliefs are pure,’ and ‘I am clean in the sight of God.’ If only God would speak; if only he would tell you what he thinks! If only he would tell you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom is not a simple matter. Listen! God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve! Job 11:4-6 NLT

Notice that all these attacks of Satan are designed to lower Job’s sense of self worth and make him believe that God doesn’t care about him.

It. Is. A. Lie!

Satan often makes these same kinds of attacks on us trying to divert our attention from the truth: God’s loves you so much, He sacrificed his very self for you! Believe it!

It almost succeeds with Job. In his depression he feels abandoned. God’s silence is deafening:

I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you, but you don’t even look. You have become cruel toward me. You use your power to persecute me. You throw me into the whirlwind and destroy me in the storm. And I know you are sending me to my death— the destination of all who live. Job 30:20-23

So we at last see Job exactly where Satan wanted him to be, bereft of possessions, stripped of family and doubting his sanity. What Satan definitely didn’t want, though, was Job’s unwavering faith in his redeemer:

God might kill me, but I have no other hope. I am going to argue my case with him. Job 13:15 NLT

When things are dire and we seem to be completely out of options, it would be foolish to take the advice, however sincerely offered, of family, friends or influencers, rather than ”arguing” our case before God himself. We have evidence to back up the claim that He really cares.

I am reminded of the suffering of another man who wondered on a fateful Friday why God had forsaken him. But the subsequent Sunday changed all of history (and me)!

Let’s be like Job and cling tenaciously to the belief that God is good, all the time!

Blessings on you and yours,

Friday February 3rd, 2023