What comes to mind when you hear the name “Job”? Many picture a man who endured endless problems and insults but didn’t complain—people have spoken of “the patience of Job” since at least the first century (James 5:11 KJV). Truly, the Bible character suffered unspeakable misfortunes without turning against God. But for the record, he did complain—and there’s more to his story than you might realize.
Satan claimed that Job was a faithful follower of the Lord only because of his many blessings. So God permitted the Accuser to bring destruction in Job’s life as a test of faith. Losing nearly everything—including his 10 children, all his wealth, and his physical health—Job was stupefied and became deeply depressed. God listened as Job and his friends discussed the situation, and now He has judged their responses.
What do you say to God when you experience something traumatizing?
- Job and his three friends tried to make sense of tragedy befalling a seemingly righteous man. Have you ever been similarly puzzled? It’s common to wrestle with the problem of suffering, but the question can be especially challenging for believers, who are supposed to trust in the Lord’s goodness. Describe your response to a time of suffering or loss—and any mental struggles you faced.
- God has reminded the four men about His infinite power and wisdom, and Job acknowledges His sovereignty (Job 42:2). When the unexpected happens, it’s easy to assume the Lord isn’t in control. Yet undergoing trials should never shake our belief in God’s omnipotence. Have you ever been tempted to wonder if He’s really in charge—or concluded He must be absent or uncaring? Describe how you thought about that at the time and also later.
- Job admits he spoke about things he didn’t understand (Job 42:3). Have you ever realized something you said about God may not have been correct? Make a list of things about Him you can’t comprehend. Release them to Him and ask for peace.
- From God’s perspective, wisdom and humility are profoundly connected. Why can’t we have one without the other? How does Job exhibit both (Job 42:2-6)?
CONTINUING THE STORY
Job passes his test of faith. How about you?
- God says the friends were incorrect. (They’d argued that since Job was suffering, God must be punishing him for sin.) Job insisted he was innocent and wanted an explanation, but what he spoke about the Lord was truth. Do you think it’s ever/sometimes/always okay to complain about events in our life? Explain.
- After the ordeal, God “restored [Job’s] fortunes” and “increased double all that [he] had” (Job 42:10). Over time, He blessed Job with 10 more children, including, as Job 42:15 tells us, three very beautiful daughters. (Many consider this a doubling of his family, in light of a coming reunion in eternity.) Can you trust God to restore an area where you’ve experienced loss and give something “beautiful” in His time? How can you show strength and wisdom by working with, not against Him?
God’s dealings with us cannot always be understood. But as believers, we know that He is ultimately working for our good (Rom. 8:28)—and that He blesses His children for faith and patience (James 1:12).
- The Lord didn’t tell Job the story behind all his suffering. And Job undoubtedly never forgot the children he lost. Yet there’s still room for new joy after trauma if we can accept God’s sovereignty and wise love.
Consider how this study applies to your life.
If you’re like most believers, you have known loss or great suffering at some point—and probably more than once. Paul describes the life of a Jesus follower as “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9). Job’s story tells just some of the possible heartaches we might experience as we journey toward heaven. Perhaps this is why the book of Job includes so much human argumentation about what’s going on—because even if we can’t be sure of the reasons for our hardship, it’s still helpful to take a closer look at suffering.
- Job’s loss was a test of his faith, though he wasn’t aware of it. Testing is likely for believers today, too (1 Pet. 1:6-7). How can studying the Word of God prepare you?
- Job’s trials weren’t punishment for sin. But we should expect chastisement when we disobey. Why might the writer of Hebrews have shared Hebrews 12:6 with Christians? Ask yourself—or God—if anything in your life is inviting rebuke.
- Sometimes suffering results from others’ sin or the problems of a world degraded by Adam’s disobedience (Rom. 5:12). How has God’s love helped you endure?
- Finally, losses can be God’s tool for dealing with our worldliness or failure to deeply treasure Jesus. Job’s tangible blessings hardly compare to the joy that awaits as you grow in oneness with the Lord. Let God build your life as He sees fit—and set your heart on the most profound blessing of all: Jesus’ life revealed in you (2 Cor. 4:10-11).