“There’s something in you that the world needs.” “There’s something in you that the world needs.” “There’s something in you that the world needs.” “There’s something in you that the world needs.”

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” Job 13:15

I tend to think that Job was an African man!  An African man can be separated from a boy from the borders of pain, suffering and endurance he undergoes during the rituals of Circumcision. Circumcision initiation elevates an individual from childhood to adulthood. Circumcision is not pleasant. No pain relief drugs such as anesthesia, and you cannot flinch your eye. Circumcision is painful yet means a lot to every African man (in my culture; which is now fading away).  Healing process takes place in seclusion for a month and includes some nasty treatments and sometimes threats to strength and harden a man. 

The other day my husband narrated to me how dangerous it is during the seclusion period; the pain, suffering and endurance you have to undergo makes it worthy as it now sets the border between being a boy and being a man. For any African man it’s better to die than escape the seclusion period. After this period, you’re now a “real man” – a “Job”.  Women are luckier and are spared of such moments.

We all have tests and trials. Some of us even seem to have more than our share! The Apostle James tells us to count them all joy, but, as we know, that is easier said than done.

Satan was talking with God one day when he said that no one completely obeyed God and worshiped Him. God said that He knew a man who was just and upright in his life. This man was Job. The book of Job is the story of a normal human being who is beset by misfortune and suffering.

God gave Satan rule over Job’s circumstances causing him to lose all of his wealth. Job still would not speak evil against God. He even acknowledged that God was the one who was testing him and he would continue to worship the Lord.

What we learn from Job;

 Job realizes the suffering he endures is allowed by God. Though Job could not begin to understand why all of these things were happening to him, he knew God was aware of it. He did not react, as Satan had predicted, by cursing God. Rather, Job told his wife, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).It is God who has the right and the power to “slay” Job. Even in the midst of his pain, Job knows that “the LORD brings death and makes alive; / he brings down to the grave and raises up” (1 Samuel 2:6). The Lord alone holds the “keys of death” (Revelation 1:18). The faith of Job is seen in the fact that even if God’s plan results in Job’s death, Job will continue to trust in God. Nothing can shake the faith of someone so grounded in the goodness and glory of God. Job may not understand what is happening to him and why, but he knows that God is good, loving, and trustworthy.

God, however, was very much aware of Job and of the wholehearted obedience he sought to render. In fact, God Himself called Satan’s attention to Job. Christ reminded His disciples in Luke 12:6–7 that God, who even takes detailed note of the sparrows, is much more deeply interested in the affairs of His own children. The Father is aware of everything about us down to the smallest detail. Even the hairs of our head are numbered. We have a faithful High Priest who was tested in all ways like us and is therefore able to empathize and give us the needed help (Hebrews 4:15–16).

Job realizes his pain was not permanent. With God, there is a way of escape. The suffering of this life is temporary and will end for those who trust in the Lord. After this life, there is eternal life with God in heaven for the believer. In fact, Jesus came to offer eternal life to all who would believe (John 3:16). By God’s grace, faith is all that is required to be made right with God (Ephesians 2:8–9).

God Limits the Trial. While God allowed Satan to afflict Job, He set limits beyond which the devil could not pass. God restricted Satan from harming Job’s health. Later, He allowed Job to be personally stricken, but insisted that his life be spared. At the time he was going through adversity, Job knew nothing of the conversation between God and Satan. He knew nothing of any limits God had pre-imposed upon his trial.

When we find ourselves in the midst of great adversity, we must always keep in mind that there may have been a similar “behind-the-scenes” conversation regarding us. God has established the limits of our trial, but we just do not know what those limits are!

What we as Christians experience is not generally time and chance. The devil does not “sneak up” while God’s back is turned. God is involved in every test that we undergo and He has established preset limits beyond which Satan cannot go. Neither the duration nor the intensity of the trial is completely open-ended. Ultimately, God is in charge!

Job wanted God to vindicate him in the eyes of his friends but God was interest in his growth. People ridiculed him (30:1, 9) and that can be hard to take. When Elihu began to answer Job on behalf of God in chapters 32 through 37, he pointed out that Job had been wrongly focused during much of his trial. In Job 33:12–22, Elihu explains that God instructs and chastens in various ways. God has His reasons for how He deals with us. And sometimes they are beyond our understanding.

God has reasons for allowing whatever happens—though we are often at a loss to fathom what they are. In our trials and tests, James encourages us to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). If we do so in faith, He will surely give it. Whatever the trial or test, there is always growth that can be achieved. Even Jesus Christ Himself learned by the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). God wants us to grow. Therefore, we must undergo periodic pruning to stimulate that growth (John 15:2).

Humanly, we like everything to be neatly pigeon— holed. We want the world and the events in it to make sense. But in trying to give an explanation for everything we sometimes miss the point. This is the way it was for Job’s friends.

The first of Job’s friends to speak was Eliphaz. He declared, “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off? Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (4:7–8). Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, Job’s three friends, were all sure that Job must have had some dirty secret at the root of his newfound troubles. They “knew” there had to be a reason. So, they badgered poor Job to confess this suspected secret sin.

Job knew there was no great hidden scandal in his life engendering his trials. He was defensive in the face of his accusers, but he also wondered—’ ‘Why?” One of the difficult things for us to accept is that many of the sufferings we go through simply cannot be neatly categorized. The why is often elusive. Bad things do not only happen to bad people. Job recognized that many times the wicked live to reach old age and even appear to prosper (21:7–13).

There are many whys that we will never know in this life. Acceptance that the why may prove elusive sets the stage for a fifth vital lesson from the book of Job.

Trust in the Face of Anguish. Job was in despair. His whole life had been turned upside down. He had lost his wealth and his loved ones in a series of sudden calamities. Now his health was gone too. Yet even at this low point of anguish and bewilderment, Job declares his heartfelt trust in God. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth.... I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself” (25–27).

Job understood the truth of the resurrection. “If a man die, shall he live again?” Job asked. He went on to record the divinely inspired answer. “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come (14:14). Job knew that God would call and that he would answer and come forth from the grave, because God would have a desire to the work of His hands (v. 15).

One of the things Satan never understood about Job was his motive. Satan thought Job only served God because it was to his advantage here and now. He was convinced that if God removed blessings and protection, Job would curse and revile Him. But that was not true. Job loved God and served Him out of sincere devotion. He trusted God even when he was feeling abandoned. This lesson of steadfast trust is one of the most important aspects of character we can gain from any trial.

God Will Ultimately Reward both Good and Evil. Life can often seem unfair. There are those who make no pretense of serving God and yet they seem to be doing well. There are others who are genuinely trying, but they are experiencing many difficulties and setbacks. What we have to keep in mind is that this life is temporary. Even though it may seem that life is not fair, God is a God of justice.

We Learn What God Is Teaching. He is the great Teacher who is preparing us for a role in His Kingdom and He insists that we learn our lessons properly. It was only when Job began coming to grips with the lessons that God wanted Him to learn that he began emerging from his period of great trial.

God focuses on the bottom line. He wants us to become like Him. “Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes,” Job told God (42:6). Job came to really know God deeply, not simply to know about Him. He became a far more humble and compassionate man as a result of what he went through. Learning these lessons was the key to his emerging out of the dark shadows of life and into the sunlight once again.

Our trials can make us bitter or they can make us better! Which will yours do for you?

Comforting thought for the week

No matter how severe a trial is, we should never assume God isn’t listening or doesn’t care. He sees lessons we need to learn that are beyond our present understanding. We need always to remember some excellent advice from King David: “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Psalms 27:14). We should learn from Job’s experience to maintain patient respect and trust in God even in the midst of our sufferings (James 5:10-11).

The suffering of a man named Job explains much about why character is more important in God's eyes than the discomfort and pain we experience in this life.