Read: Job 11:1-20
Consider: Zopher, a friend of Job, criticised him for saying to God: “My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight” (Job 11:4). The problem with Zopher’s position was that he saw a direct link between sin and suffering, misfortune and calamity. As far as he was concerned it was clear for all to see that Job had lost everything, so he must have done something dreadful to warrant God punishing him in this way. We must remember that what Zopher believed was a common belief at that time. Even in Jesus’ time the common view was that the blind, the deaf, the lame, the sick and demon-possessed were all being punished by God for their sins (or the sins of their ancestors). In John’s gospel we read: As he [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? (John 9:1-2). If Jesus’ disciples could be wrong about this, it should be no surprise that Zopher believed that Job’s calamity must be the direct result of sinning. Jesus’ response to the disciples’ question is clear about this: ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’ (John 9:3).
Regarding Job’s situation we need to ask why did all the misfortunes happened to him? To find this out we need to look at the first chapter of Job. We read there: In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright: he feared God and shunned evil … Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him: he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil’ (Job 1:1, 8). Satan’s response was that God had blessed and protected Job, so his Godly life had never been tested. We then read: The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger’ (1:12). We need to be clear that suffering is not always the result of sin, nor does suffering always mean that a person is being tested.
In James 1 we read: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (James 1:2-3). The Apostle Peter in his first letter agrees with this when he says about trials (testing): These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:7).
Returning to Job’s situation, although he was unaware that he was being tested, the problems he faced proved the worth of his faith and developed perseverance in him. Job came through the physical situation where he had lost everything, to a point where God again blessed him because of his faithfulness (Job 42:10). He also came through the ridicule and censure of his three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad and Zopher), firm in his belief in God.
Pray: Father, forgive us when we feel anxious and distressed when facing difficult situations. May we come to see that perhaps you are testing us through these situations, to prove the genuineness of our faith. Amen
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