Notes on Job
By Rev Arnold Chow
June 11, 2023
It recently came to my attention that life is very difficult for some brothers and sisters. On the other hand, I also learned that some other brothers and sisters are enjoying a life of great peace. Some may ask: Doesn’t God keep all those who trust in Him? A response to that question was incidentally found in some old notes of mine many years ago, which I came across again when tidying up my documents.
When I was young, I simplified life as being a series of successive, unquestionable stages! But one of such “unquestionable’s” in my opinion never came… I felt bitter about that and I had to ask: Has God stopped loving me? Why did You bless him, but not me? Then, God helped me see clearly the sort of deep pit I fell into through a course on the Book of Job by the late Rev. Philip Yeung (楊錫鏘牧師).
What to do when I do not have “a portion”: When God gives me “a portion” of blessings, how should I treat and use this “portion”? This is a topic addressed in the Book of Ecclesiastes. But the Book of Job addresses what to do when we do not have or when we have lost “this portion” of blessings, how I should look at myself, and my relationship with the Creator God.
At the beginning of the Book of Job, Satan said to God: ““Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”” (Job 1:9-11)
By this I became more puzzled: 1) When suffering brings regrets in life, is that because God does not love me? Am I not lovable? 2) Suffering means God takes away (or He permits Satan to take away) some blessings. As such, can I still persevere in my faith in God? 3) If God would allow me to suffer, is He still a loving God?
From doubting to insisting: The Scripture teaches us to see clearly the real face of Satan – both cunning and eloquent; he is not a violent beast but knows how to be “lethal,” making sufferers doubt God’s lovingkindness as well as their own faithfulness towards God.
Job’s conversation with his friends displayed his insistence in two areas: 1) He insisted that God is all good. 2) He insisted that he is faithful. These rebuked Satan’s query about him before God, for Job was not like what Satan said people are like: that they would fear God when they are blessed and desert God when they are not blessed. Although Job had lost his “portion,” he nevertheless still held tightly on to God. He was thus “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3).
Never cut yourself off from God: The Scripture offers a few reminders in practice: 1) We really need to know that life is created by God, and it comes with both blessings and troubles. There must be darkness before one knows what light is. There must be vanity before one knows what blessings are. 2) We must remember that suffering is not necessarily intended to be a lesson God wants me to learn! But of course, God may use suffering to teach me something, for God has the sovereignty. 3) There may not be a reason for suffering. There may not be a reason for being blessed either, because everything is given by God. Neither troubles nor blessings undermine the perfection of God. That is why I must keep my reverence and faithfulness to God. 4) I can pour out my heart to God about my suffering, even complaints. Nevertheless, I must not cut myself off from God.
Words of wisdom. There is sweetness in bitterness. Let this be our mutual encouragement!