Introduction: Job 3 answers an important question that most believers hope that they will never have to ask: Will God condemn or discipline you if you doubt Him or say ungrateful or sinful things after suffering a loss? After losing his wealth, his children, and his health, Job professed his unconditional trust in God. Yet, after reaching his breaking point, he cursed his birth, his survival at birth, and his continued existence. God never rebuked Job for any of his comments. Nor did Job lose his status as a hero of the faith. From God’s decision not to rebuke Job, He reveals several important things about His holy character. He is a God of: (1) forgiveness, (2) mercy, (3) love, (4) patience, (5) sovereignty, (6) compassion, and (7) restoration.
First, out of frustration for his unimaginable losses, Job cursed his birth. Through His willingness to forgive Job, God reveals that He will forgive you if your faith waivers in a crisis or if you say ungrateful things in your moment of pain. Second, after cursing his birth, Job cursed God’s creation of the calendar day of his birth. This was a direct attack on God’s holy creation. This was the closest Job came to cursing God. But God never disciplined Job for his inappropriate statements. Through his willingness to show mercy to Job, God reveals that He is a God of mercy. Third, Job then questioned why he did not die at birth. Although Job did not understand it at the time, the Bible reveals that God loves every person and makes each person out of love in their mother’s womb. Fourth, Job then lamented why God didn’t just kill him to put him out of his misery. God again did not rebuke Job. Instead, He patiently waited for Job to come to a deeper understanding about the meaning of faith. Through God’s patience with Job, God reveals that He is patient with you as He molds your faith. Fifth, Job then questioned God’s divine purpose or justice after complaining that he had been hedged into a life of misery. Although Job did not understand it at the time, God is sovereign and uses all things to work together for His greater good. Sixth, Job then cried out in agony. God later showed him compassion. God is also compassionate and desires that you cry out to Him when you are in pain. Finally, Job complained that his worst fears had been realized. He thought all hope was lost. Although he did not understand it at the time, God had a plan to restore what he lost. Through Jesus’ death at the cross, God also has a plan to restore you and give you peace in your times of tribulation.
Job cursed the day of his birth. After initially showing great faith, Job was at his breaking point. Out of frustration, he then cursed his birth: “1Afterward Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.” (Job 3:1). Satan believed that he could apply enough pressure on Job to cause him to finally curse God (Job 1:11; 2:5). Satan hoped to show that humanity was a failed experiment. He wanted to use the most righteous man alive at that time to prove that mankind would only be faithful if God blessed them.
Job cursed the day of his birth1
God forgave Job’s grieving statements. God knew what Job had just endured. Job had just admonished his wife for telling him to curse God by saying: ‘“Shall we actually accept good from God but not accept adversity?’” (Job 2:10). Yet, Satan had brought him to his breaking point. Satan first used evil men to steal Job’s animals and murder his servants (Job 1:13-15, 17). Satan then sent a fire that burned his remaining animals (Job 1:16). Satan then used a storm to kill Job’s ten children (Job 1:18-19). Satan then assaulted Job with a host of debilitating illnesses. These included: (1) painful, itchy sores from head to toe (Job 2:7-8), (2) decaying, blackened, maggot-ridden flesh (Job 30:30a; 7:5a), (3) hardened, dead flesh with oozing scars (Job 7:5b), (4) burning bone pains (Job 30:30b), (5) difficulty breathing (Job 9:18), (4) sleeplessness from intense pains (Job 30:17; 7:3-4), (5) misery and sorrow (Job 17:7; 30:27-28), (6) intense crying (Job 16:16; 16:20b), (7) ongoing fatigue and anxiety (Job 16:7a; 3:26), (8) nightmares (Job 7:14), (9) severe emaciation from an inability to eat (Job 17:7b; 19:20; 33:21), (10) a repulsive appearance and breath (Job 19:17), (11) public scorn and abandonment (Job 16:20a; 19:13), and (12) depression and suicidal ideation (Job 6:9; 7:15-16; 9:21; 10:1). Because God allowed these tests of faith, He had compassion upon Job for his intense suffering.
Jeremiah also cursed the day of his birth in frustration. Job was not the only godly man to make an ungrateful comment about his God-given life. The prophet Jeremiah also cursed the day of his birth out of frustration: “Cursed be the day when I was born; may the day when my mother gave birth to me not be blessed!” (Jer. 20:14). “Woe to me, my mother, that you have given birth to me as a man of strife and a man of contention to all the land! I have not lent, nor have people lent money to me, yet everyone curses me.” (Jer. 15:10). God never rebuked either Job or Jeremiah for their comments. God was compassionate to both in their time of suffering. Thus, He forgave their comments.
Job forgot the blessings that God previously gave him. Job initially praised God because God blessed him with ten children and great wealth when God owed him nothing: “21 He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ 22 Despite all this, Job did not sin, nor did he blame God.” (Job 1:21-22). In his sorrow, he forgot his own words. He was blessed to have had the time given to him with his children. While we can be empathetic towards Job, we should not consider his comments as the model to follow. Even in times of great loss, give thanks for the blessings that you have received. When you are experiencing loss or tragedy, do you give thanks for God’s blessings?
God will forgive your sinful comments against Him. The Bible celebrates Job for his endurance through his many trials (Jam. 5:11; Ezek. 14:14). This might seem strange in light of Job’s act of cursing the day of his birth. But it shows God’s forgiveness. God will remember your great acts of faith and service. Yet, He will remove any memory of your sinful actions. “I, I alone, am the one who wipes out your wrongdoings for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Is. 43:25; Heb. 8:12). “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our wrongdoings from us.” (Ps. 103:12). If God will forgive your angry and ungrateful comments against Him, will you forgive the angry and ungrateful comments that others may make against you (Matt. 6:15)?
Faith that is limited to the good times may crumble in a crisis. Job did not know if he would die shortly from his medical conditions. He also had no idea that he was the subject of a test in heaven or that God would restore him in the future. Faith is defined as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). If Job could only trust God in good times or when God blessed him, Satan would have won the battle. If your faith is limited to times of plenty, it may crumble in times of crisis.
Job cursed God’s creation of the day of his birth. After cursing his birth, Job went a step further and cursed God’s created calendar day of his birth and the night of his conception: “2 And Job said, 3 ‘May the day on which I was to be born perish, as well as the night which said, ‘A boy is conceived.’ 4 May that day be darkness; may God above not care for it, nor light shine on it. 5 May darkness and black gloom claim it; may a cloud settle on it; may the blackness of the day terrify it. 6 As for that night, may darkness seize it; may it not rejoice among the days of the year; may it not come into the number of the months. 7 Behold, may that night be barren; may no joyful shout enter it. 8 May those curse it who curse the day, who are prepared to disturb Leviathan. 9 May the stars of its twilight be darkened; may it wait for light but have none, and may it not see the breaking dawn; 10 because it did not shut the opening of my mother’s womb, or hide trouble from my eyes.” (Job 3:2-10). Job did not curse God Himself. Yet, he called upon “Leviathan” to attack the holy day that God created (Job 3:9). In Hebrew, the name Leviathan meant “twisting one”. It referenced a mythical sea serpent (Job 26:12-13; Ps. 74:12-14; 89:8l 104:26; Is. 27:1; 51:9). The name is also associated with the devil as either the cursed serpent or dragon (Gen. 3:14; Rev. 12:9; 20:2, 10). He also called upon people who were hired to place curses, like Balaam (Nu. 22:5-6), to curse the day (Job 3:9). He also called for the light that God created to be made dark (Job 3:9). Thus, Job cursed God’s holy creation and invited Satan to attack it. This was the closest that Job came to cursing God. Yet, the creation that Job cursed was effected because of mankind’s original sin (Ro. 8:20). Nevertheless, he expressed doubt about God’s wisdom and His plan for creation. Although we should feel compassion for Job, his broad condemnations were wrong.
William Blake (1757-1827) “The Book of Job - 08” (engraving 1826)2
God’s creation is holy and should never be condemned, even in times of grief. Where God said ‘“Let there be light”’ (Gen 1:3), Job called for this light to become dark (Job 3:4). God, however, declared that everything that He created was “good”: “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Gen. 1:31). The New Testament also affirms that everything that God made is “good:” “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;” (1 Tim. 4:4). In heaven, the angels also sings songs of praise for God’s holy works: “And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!” (Rev. 15:3). Job had a right to grieve. But his attack of God’s creation was an attack on the Creator of the universe. Thankfully, God showed mercy to Job.
Your flesh is also at war with the Spirit. In his weakened state, Job’s flesh waged war against the Spirit. Satan also seeks to put your flesh at war with God’s Spirit: “[T]he mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God . . . and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:7-8). “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Gal. 5:17). “And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.” (Gal. 4:28-29). If you give in to your flesh, the devil will ultimately enslave you: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Ro. 6:16; Gal. 4:7-9). If you then fail to ask for Christ to deliver you from your bondage, He will turn you over to your fleshly instincts until you repent: “Therefore, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, . . .” (Ro. 1:24-33; Ps. 81:12). Thus, you must pick that which you will serve: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matt. 6:24). Jesus’ point is that you cannot lead a dual life. You are either serving God or Satan. Who gets the majority of your time, talents, and treasure?
Praise God’s mercy and forgiveness. To keep the Jews grateful during times of distress, Moses led the Jews in celebrating God’s mercy and forgiveness for their sins: “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;”’ (Ex. 34:6; 33:19; Nu. 19:18). “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” (Dt. 4:31). Nehemiah also led the Jews in praise for God’s mercy and grace: “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy; and You did not abandon them.” (Neh. 9:17). Everyone needs God’s mercy and grace. Are you praising God for His mercy and grace?
Give thanks that God’s faithfulness is not dependent on your faithfulness. God did not give up on Job after he cursed God’s creation. He also remained faithful to His promise to never forsake the Jews: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6; 4:31; Heb. 13:5). Even when the Jews rebelled against Him, He remained faithful (Neh. 9:18-19). You can also give thanks that His faithfulness is not conditioned upon our faithfulness: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). Have you given thanks that God will not use your sins or improper grief-filled statements to revoke His promises to you?
Job lamented that he did not die at birth. After complaining that he was allowed be born into the world, Job complained that he did not die at birth: “11 Why did I not die at birth, come out of the womb and pass away? 12 Why were the knees there in front of me, and why the breasts, that I would nurse?” (Job 3:11-12). Further, this was not a one-time lament. Job repeated this complaint while debating his friends: “Why then did You bring me out of the womb? If only I had died and no eye had seen me! ‘I should have been as though I had not been, brought from womb to tomb.’” (Job 10:18-19).
Job questioned why he did not die at birth3
God created each person out of love. Job saw his life as being pointless. But God created Job, along with every other person who has ever lived, as an act of love: “I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” (Ps. 139:14). If you ever feel that your life has no meaning, dwell on the fact that God made you out of love and with a plan in mind.
Out of love, God sacrificed His only begotten son. Just as Job loved his children, God the Father loved His only begotten son, Jesus: “and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”’ (Mk. 1:11; Lk. 3:22; Matt. 3:17). “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’” (Matt. 17:5). God could have let sinners everywhere perish or sacrifice His only son. In the end, His love for the world’s sinners was so great that He sacrificed His only son to save them: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16). Whenever you question God’s love for you, remember that Jesus died for you.
Job lamented that God had not yet allowed him to die. Although Job could not change the past, he pleaded with God to end his intense suffering by allowing him to die: “13 For now I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept then, I would have been at rest, 14 with kings and counselors of the earth, who rebuilt ruins for themselves; 15 or with rulers who had gold, who were filling their houses with silver. 16 Or like a miscarriage which is hidden, I would not exist, as infants that never saw light. 17 There the wicked cease from raging, and there the weary are at rest. 18 The prisoners are at ease together; they do not hear the voice of the taskmaster. 19 The small and the great are there, and the slave is free from his master.” (Job 3:13-19). Job’s view of death was incomplete and inaccurate. Not every person who dies will find peace in death. Jesus revealed that some are in intense agony: “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus, so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’” (Lk. 16:24). Only through Jesus do we have the promise of eternal rest (1 Cor. 15:12-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Although Job wanted to end his life, he thankfully did not take any active steps to commit suicide. The book of Job is instructive because God allows upset believers to ask questions about why God has allowed things to happen (cf., Matt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34). Yet, the book also instructs that God is not obligated to give an answer. God never answered his questions.
God is patient and long-suffering with mankind. We can also give thanks that if a celebrated hero of the faith like Job can question God without being condemned, God also won’t condemn you for your struggles in your faith. “What does this chapter teach us? What is its function as part of Scripture? Job’s attitude is certainly not normative – just the opposite. . . . What we can see in the chapter is how even a man of great faith can fall into the slough of despond. That one as great as Job should have such a struggle of faith is a source of support to those similarly afflicted, especially when viewed in the light of the rest of the Book of Job. God prefers we speak with Him honestly, even in our moments of deepest gloom, than that we mouth innocuous clichés far removed from reality.”4 Peter also denied Jesus three times during a crisis in his faith. God saw these people not as the sinners that they were but as the heroes of the faith that they would become. God is also patient with you and sees you as the person of faith that you will become through your trials. This is one of the many reasons to stop and give thanks.
God calls upon you to be patient as He molds you for His greater plans. Job’s lament that God would not allow him to die was also sadly not a one-time complaint. During his debate with his friends, he repeatedly made same complaint: “Oh that my request might come to pass, and that God would grant my longing! Would that God were willing to crush me, that He would loose His hand and cut me off! . . . So that my soul would choose suffocation, death rather than my pains. I waste away; I will not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are but a breath . . . I loathe my own life; I will give full vent to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 6:8-9; 7:15-16; 10:1). God did not tell Job why he had to suffer. Nor did He reveal His plans to restore Job in the future. God also forced Sarah and Abraham to wait 25 years in the Promised Land before He transformed her 90-year-old womb to allow her to conceive Isaac (Gen. 17:17). David would also have to wait to become king as God molded Him as a servant within Saul’s court. He would then suffer under Saul’s rule. Yet, God used his suffering to mold David for His greater glory: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Is. 48:10; Ps. 66:10; Zech. 13:9(a); Dt. 8:2-3). God also wants you to be patient as He molds you: “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” (Ps. 37:7). “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.” (Ps. 40:1(b)). “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” (Ps. 130:5). Even when you don’t know God’s plan for you and things seem hopeless, will you patiently wait for God and His timing?
God allows you to experience trials to prepare you for future spiritual battles. Job was not the only godly person in the Bible who pleaded for God to end his life. Many who actively served God also experienced intense feelings of failure at Satan’s hand. For example, Moses made a similar plea that God end his life: “I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.” (Nu. 11:15). Likewise, because Elijah at one point viewed himself as a failure, he also asked God to end his misery by killing him: “But he [Elijah] himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”’ (1 Kgs. 19:4). Jonah also made a similar plea for God to end his life: “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life. . . When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, ‘Death is better to me than life.”’ (Jonah 4:3, 8). If you feel that you have failed during a trial of your faith, you are not alone. Yet, this is the voice of the enemy. God shows you the struggles of the heroes of the faith to let you know that you are not alone. God is always ready to listen to you and comfort you when you are depressed.
To find your life, you must lose it. Like Job, you must lose your worldly life to find Jesus: “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:39; 16:25). “‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” (Lk. 9:23; Mk. 8:34). Paul later realized that his prior accomplishments were nothing compared to the value of his life in Christ: “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Phil. 3:7; Heb. 13:13). If you lost your wealth, family, and health, would you still trust God? Or, is your faith limited to when He blesses you?
Allow God to humble you so that He can also exalt you without pride. God had to humble Job as a servant before He could exalt him. He did this so that Job would serve without pride. He also wants you to allow Him to humble you through your suffering so that He can exalt you in heaven without any pride. “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14). “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.” (Lk. 1:52). “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Ja. 4:10). “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” (1 Pet. 5:6). “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5 KJV). Your suffering is one way for God to humble you. Are you staying humble so that He can later exalt you without pride?
God puts you through trials so that you may rely upon Him. After the Jews had escaped from Egypt, Moses explained that God frequently tests His people: “for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” (Ex. 20:20(b); Dt. 8:2). David also warned that even the righteous are not beyond God’s testing: “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked . . .” (Ps. 11:5). “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, . . .” (Jer. 17:10). God’s testing and discipline are done out of love (Heb. 12:6). When you are tested, you may find that your heart has hidden anger, lust, or covetousness. When God exposes wickedness, He expects you to repent of it: “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). David invited God’s testing to show him where he needed to change (Ps. 139:23). Your trials produce perseverance and endurance: “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;” (Ro. 5:3). “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (Jam. 1:2-3). Paul faced a similar trial when he faced death in Asia. He advised that God put him through trials so that he would rely upon Him and not his own strength: “8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; . . . He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,” (2 Cor. 1:8-10). God uses trials to prepare you for even greater conflicts to come. Are you turning to Jesus to build up your faith and deliver you during your trials?
Jesus sometimes takes you into the wilderness so that you will listen. In Hosea 2:14, God says “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her.” Sometimes life becomes so busy that you can’t hear the Holy Spirit’s direction. Sometimes, He must pull you into the wilderness before you will listen. If every minute of your day is filled with activity, how much time does He have to speak with you?
Job questioned God’s plan for his life. After questioning his own existence, Job then questioned God’s divine justice: “20 Why is light given to one burdened with grief, and life to the bitter of soul, 21 who long for death, but there is none, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures; 22 who are filled with jubilation, and rejoice when they find the grave? 23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has shut off?” (Job 3:20-23). God previously placed a hedge of protection around Job (Job 1:10). Now, Job complained that God had “shut off” any escape from his turmoil. In other words, where God once had a hedge of protection, Job was now walled into pain and turmoil.
Even when you suffer, trust that God has a better plan for you5
Job repeatedly questioned God’s divine justice. Job’s complaint about God’s plan for his life was also sadly not a one-time complaint. During his debate with his friends, Job repeatedly questioned God’s plan for him and God’s divine justice: “Behold, I cry, ‘Violence!’ but I get no answer; I shout for help, but there is no justice. He has blocked my way so that I cannot pass, and He has put darkness on my paths.” (Job 19:7-8). “He will not allow me to get my breath, but He saturates me with bitterness.” (Job 9:18). “When I expected good, evil came; when I waited for light, darkness came.” (Job 30:26). “If I say, ‘My couch will comfort me, My bed will ease my complaint,’ then You frighten me with dreams, and terrify me by visions, (Job 7:13-14). But God was patient and compassionate with Job during his struggles. He will also be patient towards you.
God’s plan is beyond our full comprehension. Mankind is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). Yet, we can never fully understand the complexity of the mind of the Creator of the universe: ‘“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8). Like Job, we can ask questions of God. But God is not required to give an answer. His answers to our questions may be beyond our understanding. As one example, between 1845 and 1849, Ireland suffered from the “Great Famine”. In 1844, Ireland had 8.4 million people. Yet, by 1851, the population dropped to 6.6 million. Approximately one million people died of starvation, typhus, or other diseases related to famine.6 The Irish were a God-fearing nation, and there was no wide-spread sin. A believer at that time might rightly ask why God would allow the Irish people at that time to suffer so much. But God had a bigger plan that persons living at that time could not have understood. During this time, approximately two million devout Irish persons emigrated abroad. They brought their faith with them and helped to spread the Gospel. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Ro. 8:28). Will you trust God, even when the reasons for your trials are unknown?
Job lamented because of his pain and sadness. Although Job appeared to have intellectual complaints, his words stemmed from his pain: “24 For my groaning comes at the sight of my food, and my cries pour out like water.” (Job 3:24). Thankfully, God knows that we are likely to say ill-advised things in moments of pain. Because God is compassionate, He cares about our suffering. Thus, He wants your cries of pain to Him.
God offers you His compassion and comfort. Although Job felt that he was alone, God was there with him. God also offers you His comfort when you feel that you are in the valley of the shadow of death: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4). When you are in pain, do you turn to God or worldly things for comfort?
Jesus can relate to any pain you experience because He suffered for you. Jesus suffered for mankind and was tempted without sinning: “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Heb. 2:18). Through His suffering, Jesus can sympathize with your suffering: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15). There is no pain or burden that Jesus cannot relate to. Show your faith by giving your burdens to Him.
Cry out to God when you are in distress. To some, it might have looked like a sign of weakness for Job to cry out to God. But some of the greatest persons of faith in the Bible cried out to God. As an example for believers, David’s psalms encourage believers to give their deepest burdens to God: “A Psalm of David. Save me, O God, for the waters have threatened my life . . . Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink; may I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters. May the flood of water not overflow me nor the deep swallow me up, nor the pit shut its mouth on me. Answer me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good; according to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me,” (Ps. 69:1, 14-16). “The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the LORD: ‘O LORD, I beseech You, save my life!”’ (Ps. 116:3-4). “Stretch forth Your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me out of great waters, out of the hand of aliens.” (Ps. 144:7). “A Song of Ascents. In my trouble I cried to the LORD, and He answered me.” (Ps. 120:1). Elijah also cried out to God (1 Kgs. 17:20). Like David, this showed that he was completely dependent upon God. When you are feeling sadness or when your world is caving in, it is not a sign of a lack of faith to cry out to God. Instead, it is a sign of faith to do so. He wants you to cry out to Him so that the Holy Spirit can comfort you.
Pour out your heart to God during your trials. Job later complained that God would not answer his prayers: “I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.” (Job 30:20). Like Job, David also poured out his heart when he could not understand the reasons for his trials: “A Psalm of David. How long, LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 13:1). “Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and oppression?” (Ps. 44:24). “LORD, why do You reject my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 88:14). Habakkuk also cried out to God in his prayers (Habakkuk 1:2). Even Jesus cried out on the cross by quoting the psalms: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, Lemma Sabatini? that is, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”’ (Matt. 27:46; Ps. 22:1). Believers should be reverent to God by showing up to Church, praying, worshiping, and submitting to Him. But God also welcomes your private cries of pain and anguish to Him in your prayer life. He knows your needs before you speak them, and there is no secret pain that you need to hide. Are you crying out to God when you are in need of help?
Comfort others the way God comforts you. God wants you to be a source of encouragement to others. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. 3:13). “But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.” (Heb. 13:22). Sadly, Job’s friends would fail in this role. They would instead only add to his pain. God is always there to comfort you when you turn to Him. Will you be available so that He can use the love inside you to comfort others?
Job lamented that his worst fears and dreads had come true. Finally, Job believed that his worst fears had come true. He felt turmoil because he did not know that God had a plan: “25 For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread encounters me. 26 I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes.” (Job 3:25-26). Job was at a disadvantage because he did not have the promises of God’s Word to give him hope. He also did not know that God would restore everything that he lost after his trial.
God has a plan for you in times of trials. Unlike Job, you do not need to wonder if God has a plan for you. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11). This includes His plans for Jesus to restore believers: ‘“Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.”’ (Jer. 23:5). When you feel that all is lost, do you have the faith to know that Jesus has a plan for you?
Jesus offers you peace in Him during your tribulations. Unlike Job, we also have Jesus’ promises to turn to during our trials. He promises you peace in Him, even when you face trials: “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Jo. 16:33). If you are grieving from a loss or from attacks, give your burdens to Jesus.
Jesus also promises to restore what you lost through your father’s sins. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eve because of sin (Gen. 3:23-24). They were also condemned to die a physical death after eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). As a result of their sins, the relationships between mankind were strained (Gen. 3:15). Also as a result of their sins, mankind experienced hardships and physical pain (Gen. 3:16-17; Ro. 5:12). Jesus came to restore all that mankind lost because of sin: “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:21-22). Through Jesus, you are “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). He offers you hope as a new creation. As a new creation, you have the joy of the Spirit in times of trial.
Even if you lose everything on Earth, your eternal inheritance cannot be taken away. If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you could lose everything and still have the promise of an unimaginable inheritance in heaven. Paul saw heaven and revealed that the words cannot describe the beauty and love that await (1 Cor. 2:9). If you feel you have lost everything, put your hopes on your eternal life (Titus 1:2).
Image credit: William Blake: The Book of Job - 08 (artbible.info)↩︎
Frank Gaebelein, Elmer Smick, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 891.↩︎