Job 2:1-3:36; 1 Corinthians 14:10-17; Psalms 37:30-33; Proverbs 12:27-28
OT: “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil. He still retains his integrity, even though you incited me against him, to destroy him for no good reason.” “Skin for skin!” Satan answered the Lord. “A man will give up everything he owns in exchange for his life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” “Very well,” the Lord told Satan, “he is in your power; only spare his life.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence and infected Job with terrible boils from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself while he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” “You speak as a foolish woman speaks,” he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said.” (Job 2:3-10 CSB)
Despite Satan’s best efforts at destroying Job’s life, Job remained faithful to God. Undaunted, Satan asked to attack Job’s body and subject him to physical suffering. Satan believed that if he caused Job enough physical pain and suffering, then surely Job would curse God and Satan would win. Not only did Job have faith in God, God had faith in Job… that is the kind of man that Job was. In order to prove Satan wrong again, God allowed Satan to afflict Job’s body – and that is exactly what Satan did. Job was struck with such a tortuous disease, that even his closest friends did not recognize him. So terrible was Job’s physical suffering, that Job’s wife wanted him to curse God and die.
If you think about it, Job’s wife’s reaction was understandable. Everything that Job had lost, she had lost, too. She lost her creature comforts and standing in the community… she lost the stability that wealth brings… she lost all ten of her children… and now her dearly beloved husband was suffering immensely. She just wanted the whole thing to end. She wanted a way out of the trial and she hoped that God would end it all for good if Job just gave up on his integrity and cursed God. Satan wanted Job to curse God as well. How often do loved ones and people close to us, out of well-meaning intentions, do Satan’s bidding by encouraging us to give up on God and take matters into our own hands? Job rejected the temptation that his wife held before him and maintained His integrity saying, “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” What faith and commitment to integrity! Through all the suffering Job endured, not once did he say anything against God.
Though my suffering does not compare to the suffering of Job, I can relate somewhat to what he must have faced. Just shy of 2 months ago, in an instant, I slipped on some black ice, broke my ankle, upended my life and shut down the plans I was looking forward to. I was on my way to lead worship of all things. The temptation was definitely there to get really discouraged… to allow doubt to creep in… to say, “God… I was on my way to serve You, why didn’t You protect me?” I remember sitting there in the icy parking lot thinking, do I get angry and frustrated and fight against what has just happened, or do I embrace what just happened and see what God does in me and through me through the process. I chose to do the latter. During each step of the diagnosis and treatment of my ankle, I wanted God to do a miracle and remove me from the process – but at the same time, I told God that I was willing to go through what I needed to go through to see Him be glorified fully. While the process hasn’t been easy and is still on-going, God’s grace has been so present and sufficient. During the past 6 weeks, my faith and intimacy with the Lord has gone so much deeper. When suffering comes, the temptation is often to get mad at God, take matters into your own hands, and try to escape the pain. But if we maintain our integrity and embrace the process – oh the glory that will come on the other side.
Psalms: “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom; his tongue speaks what is just. The instruction of his God is in his heart; his steps do not falter. The wicked one lies in wait for the righteous and intends to kill him; the Lord will not leave him in the power of the wicked one or allow him to be condemned when he is judged.” (Psalms 37:30-33 CSB)
Again, this passage from Psalm 37 so closely parallels Job’s experience. The wicked one lay in wait for Job to take the bait, curse God and lose his life for eternity. But Job, being a righteous man of faith and integrity, did not allow himself to sin with his mouth – but only spoke what was wise and just. Because Job maintained his integrity, the Lord did not leave him in the power of Satan forever and delivered him from condemnation. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He does not change and is ever faithful to His word. Suffering doesn’t happen because God changed, nor does suffering change God’s faithfulness to His word. The question is, will suffering cause our faithfulness to change, or will we maintain our integrity and faith in the ever-faithful God?
Prayer: Lord, Your word teaches that suffering is a part of life in this fallen world that I live in. In fact, Jesus said that in this world, you will have suffering… but to take heart and be encouraged for He had overcome the world. When suffering comes, help me by Your grace, to curse you and run away from the pain, but maintain my integrity before You and embrace the process with faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.