Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

Life’s Toughest Question

Job 1:1, 2:1-10

1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.

(Job 1:1)

1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”

Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”

4 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.”

7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

(Job 2:1-10)

{NKJV}

The Old Testament book of Job asks one of life’s toughest questions: “Why would a good God allow so much bad to happen in the world?

The British theologian John R.W. Stott once said, “the fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith.”

For a number of people, the problem of suffering and evil leads to the conclusion that there is no God, or at the very least, the God who exists and allows such pain and suffering to happen, is not a good God.

The argument goes something like this:

If a good God existed, evil would not exist.

If an all-powerful God existed, evil would not exist.

The reality is that evil exists.

So therefore, a good and powerful God cannot possibly exist.

David Hume (1711-1776), the Scottish philosopher, stated the logical problem of evil when he inquired about God, “Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is impotent. Is [God] able [to prevent evil], but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing [to prevent evil]? [Why] then is [there] evil?” (David Hume. “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion”. Project Gutenberg. Accessed: July 19, 2012)

The book of Job hinges on the question, “Will people’s faith in God endure if it appears that trusting God offers no positive benefit?”

Will your faith in God hold out if it seems that your life is not working out like you had planned?

Can the pain of life become so overwhelmingly intense that it causes you to lose your faith in God?

Have you ever been at that place in your life? Have you ever been in the midst of a storm in your life, or under the weight of a threatening situation that you seriously began to wonder what was God trying to do, or if God was even there at all?

Have you ever hurt so bad that you questioned if there was a God at all, or if God did exist and was willing to allow you to go through this, that you didn’t care for a God like that?

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a painful situation and thought to yourself, “How could a good God allow something bad like this to happen in my life?”

When Satan, the Adversary, presented his case against Job, before the court of heaven, he raised this exact issue. He said to God, “Skin for skin!”… “A man will give all he has for his own life” (2:4). Satan challenges Job’s faith. He says it is only skin deep. He taunts God by saying that human beings will give up their faith in God completely if the experience life’s hurts deeply enough. In fact, the Adversary presents the charge before God that pain and sickness was enough to cause Job to “curse God” to God’s face (2:5).

Satan comes before God with an accusation at God and at humanity. The accusation is that God is only worshiped, followed, and loved by humanity, because of the good things that God does for humanity. Satan’s challenge is that if Job were to experience physical pain in his life, he would give up on his spiritual life of faith. If Job were to experience bad things physically, Satan challenged, Job would no longer believe in a good God. Instead, he would curse God.

Satan devises a plan to afflict Job with a series of boils that covered his body from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet (Job 2:7). Job has no idea what is going on behind the sides. In fact, he will never know.

This is the place of tension for those who read about the life of Job. In fact, it is this place of tension that leads to the key principle in understanding the life of Job, and the life of all humanity in a fallen and broken world.

KEY PRINCIPLE: Not everything that happens to you in your life is necessarily even about you.

Some events happen in this world “without cause” (2:3, NKJV… “without any reason”).

When we ask God “Why?” we are looking for a cause, for reasons, rationales, some kind of sense as to why the bad things that happen in our world. In this verse God reminds Satan that Job had experienced great suffering and loss that had occurred in his life “without any cause” (2:3).

Things happened in the life of Job that were not caused by Job. It was not his fault. He was not to blame. In fact, in the eyes of God, Job was “blameless” (Job 2:3).

Job would have to decide if he could trust a God, and even worship a God, in the midst of things that had come into his life “without cause” (2:3). Job would have to decide if he could in fact believe in a God, and trust in the goodness of a God who might give him no reason for the things he was experiencing in his life.

Can you trust God even when things come your way in life “without any reason” (2:3)?

This perhaps becomes the very heart of faith. Can a God whose ways may not be completely known, truly be trusted?

In a moment of joyous praise, the Apostle Paul declared:

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

{Romans 11:33, NKJV}

In Isaiah, chapter 40, the prophet asserts:

28 Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

The everlasting God, the Lord,

The Creator of the ends of the earth,

Neither faints nor is weary.

His understanding is unsearchable.

{Isaiah 40:28, NKJV}

Perhaps the challenge that Job will have to come to terms with, as will all human beings, is will you trust a God that you do not fully understand?

What we learn out the outset of the story, but what Job would never learn, is that not everything that happens to you in life is necessarily even about you. Job did not cause the troubles he experienced. In fact, God says there is “no cause” (Job 2:3) for them. They are the result of living in a fallen world where sin and evil are present.

The challenge for Job, and for each of us is can we trust that God knows what we may never know, this side of heaven? And can we trust that God understands what we may never understand this side of heaven? And most importantly, can we trust that a good God is at work for good, even in the midst of the bad things that happen to us in our lives?

Can we trust that there is more going on in us, and around us, than we can see, know, and understand? Can we have faith to believe that not everything that happens to us, is necessarily even about us?

This is the challenge before Job…and all of humanity. Yet, in the midst of the uncertainty of Job’s life, we find some truths of which we can be certain.

1) Whatever happens to you in life, God is for you.

Job 2:3

3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” {NKJV}

When Satan comes before God, God asks him if he has considered His “servant Job?” He tells the Accuser that there is no one like Job on the earth. In the eyes of God, Job is blameless, upright, one who reverences and follows God, one who turns away from evil.

While we see that Satan has comes to accuse Job, God affirms Job. In an instant we see into both the nature of God and the nature of Satan. God is for Job. Satan is against Job. The same is true for all humanity. Still today, God is for us. Satan is against us.  He’s the one who accuses us.

The Apostle Paul declared:

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?   {Romans 8:31-32 NKJV}

No matter what it is that you are going through, know that God is for you. And if God is for you, who can be against you?

The challenges of life are in the area of “integrity” (Job 2:3):

Will we maintain solid faith in God even in the midst of trials and troubles? Can we believe that God is for us when we things in life are going against us?

2) Whatever happens to you in life, you will face resistance.

Job 2:4-5

4 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”   {NKJV}

The Book of Job declares that we live in a world where evil exists (Job 2:1-2).

“Satan” literally means the “accuser” or the “adversary.” There is an adversary to good in our world. There exists opposition to the plans of God.

When we make the decision to follow God we now begin to swim upstream against the current. The enemy of God now becomes our enemy.

The central test of life’s difficulties is a matter of faith (Job 2:4-5):

“Will people turn away from faith in God if they encounter personal suffering and painful situations?”

Satan taunts God that Job’s faith is merely “skin deep” (see Job 2:4). The Accuser proclaims that Job does not have a deep faith that will sustain him in a time of physical pain and difficulty. Satan wagers that once bad things come upon Job, Job will stop believing in a good God. The enemy tips his hand to the difficulty he plans when he says, “Skin for skin” (Job 2:4). For soon He was strike Job with painful boils that will cover his skin from head to toe (Job 2:7).

Satan will then wait for Job to prove his faith goes no deeper than his first layer of skin.

3) Whatever happens to you in life, God is with you.

Job 2:6

6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.”

When Satan describes the plan of attack that he has for Job, we find that God is right there in the midst, already at work to bring good out of the bad that is intended for Job. Even before Satan strikes the next blow at Job, God has begun to redeem and rescue Job.

Through much of the Book of Job, the pain Job feels will make him doubt and question the presence of God. The reader is able to see what Job cannot: God is right there with Job, through all the pain and difficulty. God is with His people. God always has been, and God always will be.

To an uncertain Joshua, called to lead the people of Israel, after the passing of Moses, God declares:

9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”   {Joshua 1:9, NKJV}

Through the prophet Isaiah, God makes His people this promise:

10 “Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you,

Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”   {Isaiah 41:10, NKJV}

If you find yourself in the midst of a dark season of difficulty and you feel all alone, remember the promises of God.

I have heard that the following words were found scrawled on a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany where Jews were hidden during the Holocaust in World War II:

I believe in the sun

even when it isn’t shining.

I believe in love

even when I am alone.

I believe in God

even when He is silent.

4) Whatever happens to you in life, God is enough.

Job 2:9-10

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”   10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Job’s wife offers her husband a way out of his suffering and misery. She tells him to give up, to let go, and to find release and relief from his pain.

In his book If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, author Randy Alcorn recalls when his friend, writer Ethel Herr, had a double mastectomy. Two months later doctors discovered that the cancer had spread. One of Herr’s friends, shocked and fumbling for words, asked her, “And how do you feel about God now?” Reflecting on the moment the question was posed to her, Herr says:

As I sought to explain what has happened in my spirit, it all became clearer to me. God has been preparing me for this moment. He has undergirded me in ways I’ve never known before. He has made himself increasingly real and precious to me. He has given to me [cause to rejoice] such as I’ve never known before—and I’ve no need to work at it, it just comes, even amidst the tears. He has taught me that no matter how good my genes are or how well I take care of my diet and myself, he will lead me on whatever journey he chooses and will never leave me for a moment of that journey. And he planned it all in such a way that step by step, he prepared me for the moment when the doctor dropped the last shoe … God is good, no matter what the diagnosis or the prognosis, or the fearfulness of the uncertainty of having neither. The key to knowing God is good is simply knowing him.”

–Ethel Herr

{Randy Alcorn, If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil (Multnomah, 2009), p. 399}

That is what Job meant when he said to his wife, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10b, NKJV). Whether life brings good or bad, blessing or adversity, God is with us, and God is enough.

Job knew that should he lose everything he had on earth, he would still have God, and that was all he needed to get through whatever it was that he would face.

I do not know what you are going through, but I know that with God you can get through it.

Can you say today in faith, “Whatever happens, God is enough?”

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