Considering the Trial
Many people have a real problem with the whole story of Job. Some argue that God never should have allowed the extreme hardships to happen or they claim that Job was the cause of the whole tragedy. Others contend that he was simply a “pawn in the chess game of life.” One commentator views it as a cosmic dual of good and evil. Some will tell you that it is a nice story, but completely fictional . . .
I am not going to deal with any of those issues, my design in this study is to simply examine the story and see what we can learn and apply in our own lives.
As I look around, I see many of God’s people in the furnace of trial. Don’t get me wrong, it is not always, as the letter to the Hebrews describes, a trial of mocking and scourging . . . of bonds and imprisonment. All I know for sure is that they are in fiery furnaces made exceedingly hot. Yes, many of these tests and trials could be similar those listed in the letter to the Hebrews or to the sufferings of Job. Then again, they may be an emotional crisis so intense they sweat drops of blood like Jesus in the Garden.
There are times in each of our lives when life does not make sense any more. All of Hell seems to be on our backs. We are filled with guilt, doubt, low self-esteem and defeat. These thoughts occupy every waking moment. During these times, we can give up or remember who Jesus is. Hardships will either cripple us or cause our roots to grow deeper and stronger.
Thomas Paine said it so well:
“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”
My hope in writing this study is to reach anyone who is walking with the Lord in integrity of heart and loyal obedience to what they sincerely believe to be His will and purpose for their lives. This study is to those who are doing everything that they know to do—and yet find themselves in such a fiery trial they are confused and disillusioned.
I am not trying to give you a minute exegesis of the text. I will let the Scholars do that. I only want to give an outline from the experiential standpoint and give it in simplicity to anyone who can benefit from it.
I think the biggest mistake we make with the story of Job is looking only at his physical suffering or his financial loss. As you will see in Chapter 29, his greatest loss, or at least what he thinks is lost, is his relationship with his Lord and his service for the Lord. He barely even mentions the loss of his children.
Forget about his physical suffering. Maybe your trial is internal, focused on your attitudes or emotions. It might be a purging of your will or desires. The Lord will test and try you on your greatest need. Something a friend reminded me of is how the Lord will always test you concerning your obedience to His Word. Satan, however, always tempts you to disobey God’s Word.
There comes a time in the life of every fervent believer when the very foundations in our lives are shaken. Times for us to either hang on to heaven or fall into destruction. Times for us to anchor our faith in the Rock of God’s Word or to lose all hope. It may come from pressures from without, or tremendous struggles within. These may be troubles and difficulties we did not anticipate, possibly a time of disillusionment when it seems we have given more to God than we are receiving.
Have you ever felt that “it wasn’t supposed to be this way!”? “That’s not the way my TV preacher told me it would be. If I ever saw him in person I’d cram these tapes down his throat.” I am talking about honest, gut-level pain. Please realize, though, there are times when the Lord’s answer will simply direct you to be patient. His plan is in place, just trust Him
Sometimes it may feel as though He is silent, but do not confuse that with indifference or you will really be miserable and miss His best for your life. If you give up when you do not understand, you will reject His caring, steadfast love and cut yourself off from your only real hope of deliverance. That is of course exactly what Satan is hoping you do—give up, pack it in and quit. That was the whole purpose in his attacks against Job.
The Lord said that He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap, and He will purify His priests and refine them.
What form this refining and purifying takes is totally in His hands. I don’t know what He is doing with you or in your life, but I do know His desire is for you to become identified with His suffering and to be conformed to His image. Whatever it is that is standing in the way will be burned away!
I also realize that if you have never tasted of this type of work being done in your life, you may as well put this study down now because it will not mean a thing to you. It may even make you a little mad. Just put it away until the Lord speaks to you to pick it up again. Beware though, if you are lead to consider this study it means one of two things: either He is preparing you for some trials that lay ahead of you, or you are currently in the midst of fiery trials and are not learning the lesson very well.
If you are interested, you can download the whole study of Job.
Other Bible Studies and Commentary are available at Doulos Studies.