LESSONS IN ADVERSITY FROM THE BOOK OF JOB
I consider the Book of Job to be a wisdom book when it comes to dealing with adversity. The book begins by asking two probing questions in verses 1:9-10: "Does Job fear God for nothing?" The second is "Shall we accept good from God and not accept adversity?" It is interesting to note that the first question is asked by Satan, but the second by Job's wife. Questions about adversity hit us both from the spiritual and earthly realms, especially within the family. Earlier in this chapter we are told that God allowed Satan to bring adversity into Job's life, even though he was considered to be a very righteous man.
Is there a reason behind adversity? The verse in 5:6 answers that. It says that affliction doesn't just sprout up from the dust and the ground. There is a purpose for it. As we progress through this book we will see both the purpose of, and proper response to, adversity.
The proper response is recorded in 5:8. Job seeks God and pleads his cause. This is significant because in hard times it is easy and tempting to turn to other things like addictions, or destructive behavior patterns.
Skipping to 6:10 Job states that he will "rejoice in unsparing pain" because he has "not denied the Words of the Holy One."
LESSON NUMBER ONE: We must remain faithful to God and His Word in times of adversity.
Going down to 6:24 Job asks God to show him how he has erred. At times we must take a look at ourselves. However, as we stay true to God and see our part in adversity, 13:15 presents the case of arguing with God. Is it alright to argue with God in times of testing? We shall see later, we won't win the argument!
Now go to the next chapter. Verse 14 talks about waiting until change comes. Probably the worst type of adversity is circumstances over which you have no control, and you have to wait things out, and sometimes God seems to be silent.
LESSON NUMBER TWO: We must view ourselves in comparison with God.
Another type of testing is when our plans and wishes of our heart are torn apart (17:11), and our hope is displaced or as 19:10 says, "is uprooted like a tree."
LESSON NUMBER THREE: Remember, God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours.
One of the worst situations is when a person is forsaken or rejected by his or her own family and friends, as expressed in 19:13-22. The response to this is stated in 19:25. Sometimes all we can say is "...I know that my Redeemer lives..." It is easy to become bitter, but in the final analysis we must guard against letting that happen. How will you end your life, bitter or in good health? (Read 21:23-26)
LESSON NUMBER FOUR: Don't allow unforgiveness or bitterness to take over, toward God or other people.
As we come to chapter 23 several insights stand out. At any time we have the wonderful privilege of pouring out our heart before God and telling Him exactly how we feel. The passage in 23:2-7 expresses this and reminds me of Hebrews 4:16, "...draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in times of need."
Part of God's grace is that he wants to develope our character to become more like Him. Notice the phrases, "He has tried me for he performs what is appointed for me" that we shall "come forth like gold.(verses 10 and 14) Make no mistake about it. God Himself brings adversity into our lives for this reason.
LESSON NUMBER FIVE: God's grace uses adversity to refine our character.
Economic adversity is mentioned in 30:15. Job says his "prosperity has passed away like a cloud." Then to make things worse he states in 30:20 that God seems to not answer him and even ignores him. We have all been there, when God is silent. During these times we must let God be God. He may be at work behind the scenes. There is a song that goes, "when you can't see his hands trust his heart."
LESSON NUMBER SIX: Though God may be silent he is still at work on your behalf.
In chapter 31 Job goes into the self defense mode, self-righteous mentality, reviewing all the things that he sees good in himself. Don't we do the same? The rest of the book puts our human nature against the nature of God, and Job declares how insignificant he is, and asks the question of how can he reply to God. (40:4) The final chapter tells us in verse 3 that Job has declared that which he did not know and things too wonderful for him. He recognized he is too full of pride and self-righteousness.
LESSON NUMBER SEVEN: Pride is something God detests the most.
I hope you have been blessed by this exposition of the Book of Job. Blessings. John Livingston Clark
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