For my sighing comes instead of my bread,
and my groanings are poured out like water (Job 3:24).
This, friends, is grief. Job has lost everything.
When he lost his possessions and children, he said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
When he lost his health, he said, “Shall we receive good from God and not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).
But now, after time has settled in, and the reality of his loss becomes heavier, Job curses the day he was born (Job 3:3).
This was it. This was all he could bear. And Satan waited – and watched – and hoped that he had taken away the thing Job cherished more than God.*
But that was impossible, because Job loved God above all else. And because of Job’s love for God, the thought that God, Himself, might have forsaken him… well this was Job’s hardest trial.
For Job didn’t suffer because of his sin. And Job didn’t suffer because of someone else’s sin. He suffered to prove his loyalty to God.
How do we reconcile God’s goodness with the heavenly conversations recorded in Job 1 & 2? How does Job wrestle with these same doubts? This is the crux of Job.
But sprinkled through Job’s test of faith in God’s goodness are lessons in comfort. The word “comfort” finds its roots in the Latin words meaning “with strength.” So we must not mistake comfort for removing the pain. Sometimes the best comfort comes from finding truth in the midst of the pain. For instance, God knew Job’s limits. And he refused to let Satan overstep those limits. This is a comforting truth. Job’s friends come and sit in comforting silence (Job 2:11-13). Even Job offers comfort to his wife, in the form of a gentle rebuke (Job 2:9-10). But ultimately, it is Job’s hope in God that provides him the most comfort (Job 3:23).
Paul, in his final words to the Galatians, gives specific ways to comfort those around us who are suffering…
restore him in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1).
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).
Do you see God’s comfort in the pages of Job? I do. I am comforted that God limited Job’s afflictions. I am comforted that God gave room for Job to grieve. I am comforted that all suffering doesn’t come from sin – but that my response in the midst of it could thwart the plans of Satan and bring glory to God! I’m comforted that God had a purpose for Job’s suffering that transcended Job’s lifetime and ripples into our hearts today. I’m comforted by God’s sovereignty, his authority over evil, and yes, His goodness. For even in the midst of suffering, God is still good.
*Job, Lessons in Comfort, by Frances Poston Bennett, pg 24