The book of Job ~ What's it all about?

You guys, I'm 39 days behind on my reading plan! I'm Ok with that, can't be perfect, right? But I am trying to keep it under 40 (still aiming for around a year, don't want to stretch into two!). But let me tell you why it's been a struggle of late...


I hit Job.

Now, I don't know how much you know about the Bible, but if you're looking for inspirational, life application or comfort, let me just say you won't find it in the first 37 chapters of Job! Job was a pretty awesome guy by all accounts, but for some reason (which is never explained), God allowed him to go through some trials. And not just 'Starbucks ran out of soya milk' type trials either. He basically lost everything - his family, his kids, his livelihood, his health... the list goes on.

The first 37 chapters of Job is him desperately trying to trust God in the midst of his trials, but asking loads of 'Why me?' type questions. Added to that, his friends spend their time trying to explain his trials to him, trying to think of reasons why this might be happening - not necessarily saying the right or true thing, and not being all that helpful anyway.

So it's a tough book (hence why I'm wading through it like treacle!). In chapter 38 God finally speaks (haven't got to that bit yet), but he doesn't really answer Job's questions, though he does put everything into perspective.

And you know what the hardest thing to me about this book is? I don't know what is truth or not. Job's perspective is clouded by grief and frustration. His feelings are very real, and he's trying desperately to trust God, but we can't trust everything he says because he's in a really dark place and not thinking straight. His friends are trying to say the right thing and encourage him, but actually they're getting it all wrong. So I'm just waiting for God to speak.

Ever been there? Just sitting in the silence, waiting for God to speak? And then when he does, he doesn't answer your question? Tough break.


Ever been one of the friends? Desperately trying to encourage, say the right thing, explain away the misfortune?

Right now I feel like one of Job's friends.

I've got people in my life going through some pretty dark times right now. I'm one of those people - probably someone who appears to have it all together, someone who wants to be there, someone who doesn't really know what the right thing to say is, someone who has so many questions herself!

But reading Job has made me so conscious of not being 'that guy'. I don't want to be the kind of person who offers empty platitudes and explanations not founded on truth. I don't want to be the person who makes up theology just to make myself more comfortable with the situation that presents itself. I don't want to be the person who tries to explain away suffering, not doing God justice and not doing the broken soul justice either. It's hard!

So instead I say nothing. I wish, I wish, I wish, that God would give me something real to say. Something heartfelt. Something encouraging. But he doesn't. Instead my 'we're praying for you' messages can seem almost trite.

And I don't think we'll ever understand suffering on this earth. I don't think we'll ever have the answers. But here's what I do know:
  • If you say you're praying for someone, actually pray for them. I mean down on your knees, go to battle for them type prayers. It might seem trite to just say that you're praying for them, but if you actually are, you will see breakthrough after breakthrough, and they will know that you're praying for them.
  • Don't try to explain away someone's suffering. You don't know. Face up to that fact.
  • Sometimes, it's better to say nothing. Just sit with that person in the pit. There will come a day when the storm has passed, and they're ready to rise again, but it's not up to you to decide when that might be. While you're waiting, just sit with them in the midst of their pain, horror and tragedy. You might feel totally useless, but it means something to them.
  • When God decides to speak, listen. He might not give the answers you're looking for, but what he has to say is a darn sight more important than whatever you were hoping for anyway.
  • Trusting God is more important than getting answers.
  • God never fails. Even when it looks like He has, there's a victory coming. Wait for it.
So there you have it, Job is a tricky book, and it makes for uncomfortable reading at points. But it's also a book full of humanity and real life. You probably know people who are feeling like Job right now - how are you responding to them?


Sea Photo by Giga Khurtsilava on Unsplash

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