Contrary to what Maria (in the Sound of Music) would want us to believe, the ‘very beginning’ is not ‘a-b-c’ or ‘do-re-mi.’ The Word of God explains:
- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
- “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
We started our Bible reading from The Beginning today. Then, tucked in after the first eleven chapters of Genesis (in the chronological reading plan), comes the story of a man named Job. The book of Job is sometimes not easy to understand. But I challenge you to read the entire book in one sitting; it could take an hour or two. Or, read it in a different Bible version than you usually use, like perhaps The Living Bible.
Job asks the ‘big’ question: Why? Why is there suffering? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does it often seem that the wicked flourish? (Or, more specifically: Why does a police office shoot and kill an otherwise innocent traffic offender? Why would a gunman open fire in a mall, night club, school or church?) WHY?
Yes, sin bring consequences and many times we suffer due to our own foolishness. The book of Job confirms that there are no easy answers to these questions. We can, however, glean a few important principles:
- Satan can be blamed for a lot. He was ultimately responsible for Job’s suffering (1:6-12), and continues to wage war against the saints of God and against His holy covenant.
- God is sovereign! He holds ALL power (Chp 25-26; 37-42).
- Job seemed to be righteous in his actions, but his attitude toward God — demanding answers and accusing God of being unjust — made him guilty. Do we really want to argue with God? (38:3; 40:2)
- Ha! The counsel of our friends is not always true or even helpful! We should read the book of Job with discernment; not everything that Job and his friends said was correct.
- Testing purifies all who allow God to work in their lives in the midst of hard times. Job said, “But he knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (23:10). We may not see the purpose of suffering, but there is a lesson for us here: Testing purifies us and reveals the gold of God’s character within us.
- The promise of eternal victory is perhaps the greatest gem of all. “I know that my Redeemer lives…. and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. . . How my heart yearns within me” (19:25-27).
This is the triumphant song of an afflicted Job. May it be our song as well.