“Then Job answered and said: ‘Truly I know it is so, but how can a man be righteous before God? If one wished to contend with Him, he could not answer Him one time out of a thousand. God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?’” (Job 9:1-4)
James writes, “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). Job had to persevere through the loss of his possessions, his children, and his health. He also had to endure his friends, who had initially come to comfort him (Job 2:11-13), but were now adding to his misery as they tried in vain to answer why these things had happened to Job.
Job’s friend Bildad, like his friend Eliphaz had earlier done (Job 4:7-9; 5:17), implies Job was suffering because he was being chastened by God for his sins. Bildad says, “Does God subvert judgment? Or does the Almighty pervert justice? If your sons have sinned against Him, He has cast them away for their transgression. If you would earnestly seek God and make your supplication to the Almighty, if you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you, and prosper your rightful dwelling place” (Job 8:3-6).
I can only imagine how excruciating it must have been to hear from his “friend” the subtle implication that God killed Job’s sons because of their transgressions. Moreover, it must have been painful for Job to hear his friends suggest God was not awakening to help Job because Job was not “pure and upright”. The problem with Job’s friends is they felt compelled to attempt to answer why all these things had happened to Job. The problem with Job is he began to listen to their line of reasoning and frustrate himself as he questioned why God would chasten him when he had striven to live a righteous and blameless life (Job 9:20-21). God wasn’t chastening Job. These things had happened to him because Satan was trying to turn Job against God (Job 2:4-5; 1:12, 18-19)! Much like when we go through trials today, Job had no way of knowing why he was going through this terrible ordeal.
No wonder Job so often expresses his frustration such as when he says, “My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, 'Do not condemn me; show me why You contend with me’” (Job 10:1-2). In his frustration, Job begins to look at God as contending against him, rather than God being there to support him. In his frantic attempt to find the answers about why all this had happened to him Job speaks about having his day in court with God (Job 9:14-19). Job brought a lot of additional misery to himself as he began to view God as his Adversary to be contended against, instead of his Friend who could comfort him!
I learn from this an important lesson: When bad things happen to me, don’t assume it is because of God’s chastening of me for some sin I have committed. Today, when I go through trials I will not assume these things are God’s chastening of me. My trials I face may be for some other reasons which I may never know during my time on this earth. I may have to wait till I get to heaven before I know why I experienced some of the trials I did on this earth. As I go through these challenges, I do not want to view God as my Adversary whom I want to contend with in court. I will strive to view God as my Friend who can comfort, encourage, and strengthen me to face and endure the trials of life!
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14).