Introduction: After responding to Eliphaz’s meritless accusations, Job complained directly to God. His words are shocking to read. Yet, they must be read through the lens of grace because of his intense suffering. He also did not have the whole counsel of God that believers have today through the Old and New Testaments. For those who elect to remain ignorant of God’s Word, many will agonize under the same misunderstandings that Job did when they suffer. Through the revelation of God’s Word, Jesus reveals His answers to Job’s seven complaints. When you suffer, Jesus wants you to have faith in your: (1) heavenly rewards, (2) transformation, (3) divine election, (4) empowerment of the Spirit, (5) His joy, (6) His love, and (7) His forgiveness of sin.
First, Job complained that God withheld his just reward from him after a lifetime of faithful service. Jesus wants you to have faith that He will reward you in heaven. Second, Job complained to God about his endless physical and emotional suffering. Jesus wants you to have faith that He will transform you in heaven, and you will never again experience pain or suffering. Third, Job saw his life as transient and meaningless. Jesus wants you to have faith that He chose you before time for a great purpose. Fourth, Job believed that God saw him as a sea monster who needed to be restrained. Jesus wants you to have faith that He loves you and wants to empower you to do great things for Him through the Holy Spirit. Fifth, Job saw only hopeless misery and pleaded for God to let him die. Jesus wants you to have hope and faith in the joy offered through the Spirit and your future eternal joy. Sixth, Job assumed that God’s scrutiny brought him only pain and pleaded for God to look away. Jesus wants you to have faith that He constantly watches you out of love. Finally, unaware of any sin that he might have committed, Job pleaded for God to forgive his hidden sins. God did forgive Job for questioning His divine justice. Jesus also wants you to have faith that He will forgive and forget your sins against Him.
Job saw himself as a conscripted servant who had not received his wages. After rebuking Eliphaz, Job complained to God that he had been treated unfairly after a life of service: “1 Is a person not forced to labor on earth, and are his days not like the days of a hired worker? 2 As a slave pants for the shade, and as a hired worker who eagerly waits for his wages,” (Job 7:1-2). Job saw himself as a conscripted servant for God. His Master determined the terms of his working conditions. Yet, through the lens of his suffering, he saw no hope or assurance of a future divine reward, described metaphorically as a servant’s wages. He further believed that all of mankind was destined for some form of a lifetime of misery and suffering: “For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7). “Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil.” (Job 14:1).
Job believed that God had treated him unfairly. Job pointed out that a laborer worked only during the daylight hours and then was entitled to rest (Job 7:2). “A person goes out to his work and to his labor until evening.” (Ps. 104:23). And a laborer was normally rewarded with his or her earned wages after a day of work (Lev. 19:13; Dt. 24:14-15; Jam. 5:4; 1 Tim. 5:18). He was waiting to be paid his wages in service to God.
The psalmists and Solomon also complained to God. Job was not the only godly man to complain to God. To let you know that you can cry out to God when you feel pain, the psalms are filled with cries of despair and pain: “Remember what my lifespan is; for what futility You have created all the sons of mankind!” (Ps. 89:47). “Behold, You have made my days like hand widths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; certainly all mankind standing is a mere breath. Selah.” (Ps. 39:5). Solomon also expressed bitter complaints in Ecclesiastes: “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is futility and striving after wind.” (Ecc. 1:14). “So I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold, all was futility and striving after wind, and there was no benefit under the sun.” (Ecc. 2:11). “This also is a sickening evil: exactly as a person is born, so will he die. What then is the advantage for him who labors for the wind?” (Ecc. 5:16). Jesus knows your thoughts before you think them. Thus, you don’t need to withhold your cries of pain from Him.
Jesus offers eternal salvation as a reward for your faith. Jesus gave His life so that all who have faith in Him might live: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:8). “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (Jo. 10:11). “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). His blood is the symbol and proof of His covenant. “And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’” (Mk. 14:24; Lk. 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; Jer. 31:31). What Jesus offers is also free (Ro. 6:26). His reward only requires your faith that He died on the cross for your sins.
Jesus will also reward your faith on Earth and in heaven. In addition to the reward of eternal life, Jesus also promises to bless you in many other ways. He promises to bless you with the Holy Spirit as a down-payment on your salvation (Eph. 1:14; 2 Cor. 1:22). And, in addition to blessings on Earth through the Spirit, He promises five kinds of crowns in heaven. First, those who persevere in the face of trials will receive a crown of life: “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (Ja. 1:12; ; Rev. 2:10). Second, those who live a pure life while waiting for His return will receive a crown of righteousness: “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8). Third, those who exercise self-control will receive an “incorruptible crown” (1 Cor. 9:25-27). Fourth, elders, pastors, teachers, leaders, and shepherds of God’s flock will also receive “a crown of glory” (1 Pet. 5:4). Finally, those who help lead others to Christ will receive a “crown of rejoicing” (1 Thess. 2:19; ). Jesus also promised various conditional blessings in the beatitudes (Matt. 5:1-12). He also promised “rewards” for those who store up their treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:20). These are among the examples of blessings that are unrelated to your salvation. Other kinds of rewards on Earth include a prolonged life (Dt. 5:32-33). Have you given thanks for Jesus’ many undeserved gifts in your life and the many undeserved gifts that await you in heaven?
Job saw the wages for his service as endless physical pain and sleepless nights. As an allegedly conscripted servant for God, Job believed that he had been paid back with emotional and physical misery. “3 so I am allotted worthless months, and nights of trouble are apportioned to me. 4 When I lie down, I say, ‘When shall I arise?’ but the night continues, and I am continually tossing until dawn. 5 My flesh is clothed with maggots and a crust of dirt, my skin hardens and oozes.” (Job 7:3-5). As if the pain of losing his ten children and all his possessions was not enough, Job could not find rest. Satan “struck Job with severe boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head.” (Job 2:7). Satan further caused him to be plagued with insomnia and tossed back and forth through seemingly endless nights (Job 7:4). Thus, he had no ability to remove his thoughts from his losses and find even temporary rest. His mind and his body also could not heal itself without sleep. His body also appeared to be near death. For “months,” his skin further deteriorated like a rotting corpse in front of his eyes. His sores all over his body had hardened with a running ooze of puss. Flies also laid eggs in his skin, and maggots hatched inside of him and then ate off of his dead flesh. He was left to speculate why God would allow all of this to happen. Thus, he previously asked: “What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should endure?” (Job 6:11).
Endless nightmares were the sign of a curse. Through Moses, God later warned that the constant nightmares that Job described were the sign of a curse: “So your lives will be hanging in doubt before you; and you will be terrified night and day, and have no assurance of your life. In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were evening!’ And at evening you will say, ‘If only it were morning!’ because of the terror of your heart which you fear, and the sight of your eyes which you will see.” (Dt. 28:66-67). The psalmist also cried when he felt pain from which he could find no escape: “LORD, let me know my end, and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am.” (Ps. 39:4).
Jesus promises eternal peace and rest. Although you live in a fallen world with pain, Jesus promises an eternity without pain: “for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:17). “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4; Is. 25:8; 65:19). If you are mourning the loss of a believer, you can take comfort that they have found peace.
Jesus will transform you in heaven. You will also receive a new body in heaven that will be free from pain: “For we know that if our earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made by hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Cor. 5:1). In times of loss, are you thanking Jesus for the many blessings that await you?
Job saw his life as transient and meaningless. Because Job had no escape from his pain, he saw his days passing in a rapidly meaningless manner: “6 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope.” 7 Remember that my life is a mere breath; my eye will not see goodness again. 8 The eye of him who sees me will no longer look at me; Your eyes will be on me, but I will not exist. 9 When a cloud vanishes, it is gone; in the same way one who goes down to Sheol does not come up. 10 He will not return to his house again, nor will his place know about him anymore.” (Job 7:6-10). When Job stated that his “days” were “swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6), this did not mean that the painful days and nights passed quickly. Instead, they had become in his mind a meaningless blur without any hope: “Now my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away, they see no good.” (Job 9:25). Because Job believed that God viewed him as His enemy, he believed that only death would end his suffering. There seemed to be no improvement, he saw no hope that his Master would restore the fortunes of His faithful servant. “[W]orse than the disease itself, Job lost all hope of being healed. He believed his only release from pain was death.” (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. 902).
Job prayed for a mercy death. When Job uttered the word “remember” this was a prayer to God (Job 7:7). Because he saw his life as a meaningless “breath” (Job 7:7) - - a life whose meaning would disappear as quickly after a person exhales, he prayed for mercy so that his suffering could end quickly. He would then never see his tormenting friends again (Job 7:9-10). “Remember that You have made me as clay; yet would You turn me into dust again?” (Job 10:9). Similar statements exists in the book of Psalms: “LORD, . . . let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days like hand widths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; certainly all mankind standing is a mere breath. Selah” (Ps. 39:4-5). “Remember what my lifespan is; for what futility You have created all the sons of mankind!” (Ps. 89:47). “People of low standing are only breath, . . .” (Ps. 62:9). “So He remembered that they were only flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.” (Ps. 78:39). James referenced these verses in the context of a warning a person not boast about tomorrow: “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away.” (Jam. 4:14). Yet, while the psalmist sought out God because of the frailty of life, Job made his statements as a person with no hope. He believed that his only hope was to hide in the afterlife until God’s presumed anger against him had passed: “Oh that You would hide me in Sheol, that You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You, that You would set a limit for me and remember me!” (Job 14:13).
Jesus loved you before the creation of time and elected you to serve Him. When you feel that your life is meaningless, remember that Jesus loved you and elected you to serve Him before He even created the Earth: “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love.” (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9). “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters;” (Ro. 8:29). Jesus also loved you and called you while you were still a sinner: “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:6, 8). You are also called upon to accept and confirm God’s higher calling and purpose in your life: “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;” (2 Pet. 1:10). “knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;” (1 Thess. 1:4). If you feel your life is meaningless, you have not fully accepted His calling in your life. Have you responded in faith to Jesus’ calling?
Jesus created you for a purpose. You also never need to wonder if your life has a purpose. Jesus created you to fellowship with Him and serve others in need: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,” (Eph. 4:1). If you are feeling depressed, the best cure is to serve others in need.
Job believed that God saw him as a monster who needed to be restrained. Believing that he had nothing left to lose, Job openly complained to God that God was allegedly restraining him like a sea monster: “11 Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. 12 Am I the sea, or the sea monster, that You set a guard over me?” (Job 7:11-12). This was not the last time that Job would complain to God. As his friends continued to make him feel worse, he repeated his complaints against God: “I am disgusted with my own life; I will express my complaint freely; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 10:1). “As for me, is my complaint to a mortal? Or why should I not be impatient?” (Job 21:4).
Job questioned why God had allegedly felt the need to restrain him. Not understanding that God can allow suffering for reasons unrelated to sin, Job sadly felt little reason to restrain his complaints against God (Job 7:11). Because he assumed that he was being punished, he believed that God saw him as being like the sea or a sea monster that needed to be contained instead of being the faithful servant that he had been throughout his entire life (Job 7:12). As one commentator observes: “we are more like the sea or the sea-monster than we would like to admit. - The sea is restless, and so is our nature. - The sea can be furious and terrible, and so can we. - The sea can never be satisfied, and neither can sinful man - The sea is mischievous and destructive, and so is sinful man. - The sea will not obey, and neither will sinful man.” (David Guzik on Job 7).
Out of love, Jesus empowers you through the Holy Spirit. Instead of seeking to restrain you, Jesus wants to empower you through the Holy Spirit. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7). “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!”’ (Ro. 8:15). For those believers who pray in faith, Jesus has also given us the legal equivalent of a power of attorney to pray in the name of Jesus Christ. “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (Jo. 14:13-14). “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (Jo. 15:16). “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” (Jo. 16:23). The name is so powerful that the archangel Michael was able to drive Satan away merely by rebuking him in Jesus’ name (Jude 1:9). The blessings that come from your prayers may draw others to God or heal the sick or comfort the brokenhearted. Are you using the powers that Jesus has given you to bless others? If not, you are like the servant who buried his talents (Matt. 25:18).
Job pleaded for God to let him die. Because Job believed that God viewed him as an enemy, he pleaded for God to let him die. He did not want God to allegedly restrain him: “13 If I say, ‘My couch will comfort me, my bed will ease my complaint,’ 14 Then You frighten me with dreams, and terrify me by visions, 15 so that my soul would choose suffocation, death rather than my pains. 16 I waste away; I will not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are only a breath.” (Job 7:13-16). Job’s inability to sleep made his physical torment worse. It weakened his ability to endure his intense physical pain.
Job could find no peace or rest. Job sadly could not find peace. The moment he tried to sleep, he experienced terrible visions (Job 7:13-14). “I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes.” (Job 3:26). Thus, Job saw death as a release from the terror of his life (Job 7:15-16). “Oh, that God would decide to crush me, that He would let loose His hand and cut me off!” (Job 6:9). What Job experienced is sadly what many will feel during the Great Tribulation: “And in those days people will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death will flee from them!” (Rev. 9:6).
Jesus offers you joy through the Spirit. Jesus offers you an abundant life: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jo. 10:10). The abundant life that He offers includes the peace and joy that only the Holy Spirit can provide: “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Ro. 14:17). “[I]n Your presence is fullness of joy;” (Ps. 16:11; 21:6). Joy is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; Ro. 14:17; 15:13). Living your faith and walking with Jesus also involves sharing the joy of the Spirit: “ . . . I rejoice and share my joy with you.” (Phil. 2:17(b)). “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (Phil. 2:2). When you suffer pain, do you seek out the joy of the Spirit?
Jesus also offers you eternal joy in heaven. The joy that the Holy Spirit offers you on Earth is a down-payment of the eternal joy that awaits in heaven: “And the redeemed of the LORD will return and come to Zion with joyful shouting, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Is. 35:10). “Your sun will no longer set, nor will your moon wane; for you will have the LORD as an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be over.” (Is. 60:2). Paul described the joy of heaven as something beyond what humans have seen or experienced (1 Cor. 2:9). Are you sharing the good news with the broken-hearted?
Job pleaded for God to end His observations and scrutiny. Although Job correctly understood that God is omnipresent, he sadly saw God’s watchful eyes as a curse: “17 What is man that You exalt him, and that You are concerned about him, 18 that You examine him every morning and put him to the test every moment? 19 Will You never turn Your gaze away from me, nor leave me alone until I swallow my spittle?” (Job 7:17-19). The phase “until I swallow my spittle” was an Arabic expression that meant for just a moment. Job believed that if only God would look away for a moment, he could rest: “He will not allow me to get my breath, but He saturates me with bitterness.” (Job 9:8).
Job was incorrect to view God’s watchful eyes as a curse. Job saw himself as too insignificant for God to expend time watching and allegedly having to restrain him with illnesses. “Contrary to all this, the reader knows from the Prologue that a loving God waited, with great concern, for that moment when Job’s test would be over and the hand of the tormentor (the Accuser) would be removed.” (Gaebelein, Smick, at p. 902). The psalmists later quoted Job’s statements to reach an entirely different and correct conclusion about God’s love: “What is man that You think of him, and a son of man that You are concerned about him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!” (Ps. 8:4-5). “LORD, what is man, that You look after him? Or a son of man, that You think of him?” (Ps. 144:3). One commentator observes that we should celebrate what Job lamented: “The point of the psalms is that God honors us by paying attention to us. The point of Job is that God makes too much of us with His incessant surveillance and unforgiving scrutiny.” (Robert Alden, The New American Commentary, Vol. 11, Job (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 112).
Out of love, God made mankind in His image and watches over you. In his bitterness, Job also questioned why God would elevate mankind to make it in His image (Job 7:17). Yet, the book of Hebrews quotes from Job to draw the opposite conclusion that God loves mankind and exalted it make it greater than the angels: “For He did not subject to angels the world to come, about which we are speaking. But someone has testified somewhere, saying, ‘What is man, that you think of him? Or a son of man, that you are concerned about him?”’ (Heb. 2:5-6). It was out of love that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for mankind. Thus, Job was incorrect in believing that God had a low opinion of mankind. Are you inviting Jesus to examine your heart and remold you for His use?
Let God use your trials to build up your faith. God tested Job so that he would have a deeper understanding and trust in Him. He would learn that not all suffering was a punishment. Your trials should produce also perseverance and endurance (Ro. 5:3; Jam. 1:2-3; 2 Cor. 1:8-10). Are you turning to Jesus to build up your faith during your trials?
Job pleaded for God to forgive any sin that he might have committed. Although Job did not believe that he had sinned, he pleaded with God to forgive any possible hidden sin: “20 Have I sinned? What have I done to You, watcher of mankind? Why have You made me Your target, so that I am a burden to myself? 21 Why then do You not forgive my wrongdoing and take away my guilt? For now I will lie down in the dust; and You will search for me, but I will no longer exist.” (Job 7:20-21). Without God’s forgiveness, Job believed that only death would bring him peace. He did not understand that - - if he were a true sinner - - death would not have been a real release from his suffering.
Job made the same mistake as his friends in assuming that trials only come through sin. Job knew that he had been singled out without knowing the reasons for his torment. His request to be acquitted of any hidden sins was a plea that he would continue to make: “If I have sinned, You will take note of me, and will not acquit me of my guilt.” (Job 10:14). “How many are my guilty deeds and sins? Make known to me my wrongdoing and my sin.” (Job 13:23). The Pulpit Commentary observes that “Job feels that, if he has sinned, which he is ready to admit as possible, though he has certainly no deep conviction of sin (Job 6:24, 29, 30; Job 7:19), at any rate he has not sinned greatly, heinously; and therefore he cannot understand why he has not been forgiven. The idea that the Almighty cannot forgive sin except upon conditions, is unknown to him. Believing God to be a God of mercy, he regards him also, just as Nehemiah did, as a ‘God of pardons’ (Nehemiah 9:17) - a belief which seems to have been instinctive with men of all nations. And it appears to him unaccountable that pardon has not been extended to himself. Like his ‘comforters,’ he makes the mistake of supposing that all his afflictions have been penal, are signs of God’s displeasure, and intended to crush and destroy him. He has not woke up to the difference between God's punishments and his chastisements. Apparently, he does not know that ‘whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,’ or that men are ‘made perfect through sufferings’ (Hebrews 2:10). For now shall I sleep in the dust. Now it is too late for pardon to avail anything. Death is nigh at hand. The final blow must soon be struck. And thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be. The idea seems to be - God will relent at last; he will seek to alleviate my sufferings; he will search for me diligently - but I shall have ceased to be.” (Pulpit Commentary on Job 7).
Job’s real sin was presumption. Job’s misery was not a punishment for any prior sin: “God did not condemn Job for sins in the usual sense of that word but for speaking without knowledge and questioning divine justice.” (Alden p. 113). “Job was not being punished; he was being honored. God was giving to him a name like that of the great ones of the earth. The Lord was lifting him up, promoting him, putting him into the front rank, making a great saint of him, causing him to become one of the fathers and patterns in the ancient Church of God. He was really doing for Job such extraordinarily good things that you or I, in looking back upon his whole history, might well say, ‘I would be quite content to take Job’s afflictions if I might also have Job's grace, and Job's place in the Church of God.”’ (Charles Spurgeon on Job 7)
Jesus will forgive your sins when you confess them. While Job lived in uncertainty, Jesus promises to forgive your sins if you confess them: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). He not only forgives sins, He will remember the sins no more: “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). God forgave and forgot Job’s sinful words.
Forgive others the way Jesus has forgiven you. Job initially struggled with his misguided friends. Yet, he later forgave them. Jesus also warns that you must forgive others to be able to receive God the Father’s forgiveness: “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matt. 6:14-15). “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mk. 11:26). Thus, if you are looking for God’s forgiveness, don’t delay in forgiving others.