No parent wants to give their child a start in life that says, “I know this name brings to mind someone not so pleasant, but… I’m gonna name my baby this anyway, because I really like it.” It is pretty rare to hear of a new baby that’s been named JOB, which means “persecuted, hated”… or ICHABOD, “no glory”… or RAHAB (the prostitute)… or JEZEBEL (the evil wife of Ahab)–right? I’ve heard some really different sounding names lately, but none that carried with them a negative connotation.
I admit that with a name like Job, people would always mispronounce it and make wisecracks about how it was the only way your parents could get a job… but seriously, the main reason is clear: the life of Job was not one that any of us would want to emulate. It’s just one of those stories that is hard to swallow. A bitter pill–yet, not, if you read it all the way to the end. When life brought Job intense heartache, he consistently clung to his faith in God. Did he question God? Of course. Did he struggle with understanding? Absolutely. His life was filled with a grief that I can’t fathom, but it was also a powerful testimony of one that has tasted that bitter pill, but still stayed close to God.
Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him.
I will still defend my ways before Him.
Job is a difficult passage to read, yes, but there are valuable truths we can learn from it, AND take comfort in the fact that, in the end, Job gained a greater perspective and certainty that God indeed was in control.
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.
Job 42: 12-17
The question we have to ask ourselves is, “if I had been in Job’s position, would I have continued to praise God despite my affliction?”.
I’m not naive. Life brings its ups and downs, highs and lows. Bad things happen–even to good people. My own mother and father tragically lost their little girl. A dear friend lost her husband in a tragic accident. Neither one is explainable in human terms. Only God knows the answer to the question, “why?”. Your own life might even feel a lot like Job’s right now, or quite possibly you have a fresh understanding of what that kind of adversity feels like. The truth is, we are all in a spiritual battle. If we’re following God and trying to give our very best to him, then Satan is not happy. He will do anything and everything to destroy our faith, our joy, and our effectiveness. Before you put this away and say, “I don’t want to hear this”, read on:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. “ Ephesians 6: 10-13
THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE! Even when we don’t understand, we can trust that God IS in control–that He knows our struggles and even our defeats. Sometimes in life He protects us from the storm and sometimes, He just goes with us through the storm. The lesson we see unfold in the life of Job is clear: Life is often difficult. Pain is a part of life. Until we get to heaven we will experience both ends of the spectrum–immense joy and excruciating pain. The decision is ours: Will we continue to trust God’s faithful love? Will we stand on His promises and sing HALLELUJAH–no matter how broken we might be? Pain often tests our trust, but God WILL pass the test. If you let Him, He will carry you through those difficult days and give you reason to HOPE.
It is long overdue, but timely. This is the verse I chose to memorize in my Scripture Memory Challenge. Won’t you join me?