Should I even consider it? Should I dive in and prepare for the worst? What would you do if you felt like God was calling you to read the Bible’s “go to” book on suffering? Job. That’s what happened to me this week. In just my normal pattern of personal devotional time, I wrapped up the book of Esther and turned the page to…..Job!
Job is an Old Testament story about a man who lost everything because he faithfully honored God. In the end, everything worked out ok. But in the middle, not so much.
Turning to that book in this season scares me. I don’t want to have to learn from it. Over the past six years of church planting, God has humbled me to the point that I now know that I am not so special as to be exempt from suffering and trials. Some churches will not make it out of this international shut down. That could include ours. Even though we are doing ok, so far. So should I read and pray through Job to prepare my heart to suffer? Should I skip it? Do you, like me, ever hope that God does not speak to you because you’re afraid of what He might say?
Remember who the bible is about
I nervously wrestled with those questions until I remembered who the Bible is actually about. Spoiler alert – it’s not about me! Or you! While the book of Job does provide some tools we can use to trust God in the midst of suffering, that’s not the point of the book. It’s a book that points to Christ. Like the rest of the Bible.
Job was wealthy, favored, faithful, and fruitful. He lost all of it because God directs Satan to test him by attacking him. Through it all, though, Job ultimately proves faithful and God restores him to a higher position than he had ever known.
This is not a fable. It’s not a lesson that if we remain faithful when we suffer, then God will bless us with more blessings than we had ever been blessed with before. It points to Christ. He is the Favored Son of God. He lost everything. Not because Satan attacked Him, but because we have attacked God. How? In our sin, we’ve committed cosmic treason. We’ve tried to “de-god God,” and claim His throne in our own lives and in the lives of others. We have tried to shape others into the image we want them to be. We must admit that we make terrible gods.
This is why Jesus stepped off of His throne and onto our cross. He exchanged His crown of glory of our crown of thorns. He took on our suffering so that we could have His joy. He became our sin so that we might become His righteousness.
After Jesus was crucified and buried, God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him above all, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.
That’s the point of the book of Job.
Remember who our lives are about
Delighting in the glory of God is the point of our lives. God is committed to maximizing our joy in Him. So much so that He will even walk us through “the valley of the shadow of death.” Because Jesus suffered for us, we can have full confidence that He will now suffer with us. And that, not as an unsuspecting victim, but as a victorious Savior.
Even our suffering will be used by God to increase our joy in Him. He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose. He will discipline us as a good Father. He will show us more of His unsurpassed compassion and tenderness. He will liberate us to love Him more than anything in this world.
Give it a read
So I think I will read the book of Job. Not to prepare to suffer. But to prepare my heart to worship. Which will prepare me to suffer. I will pray through this book so that I can learn more about Christ and how to be satisfied in Him regardless of what happens to my circumstances. Will you join me?