Laying in the ashes, Job had every reason to give up. In one week he had lost everything—his children, wealth, and health, for no apparent reason. His feelings of betrayal, confusion, and abandonment were overwhelming. His friends sat with him but added to his grief; they said he must have done something wrong to bring on all this pain. His wife told him to curse God and die. Job was heartbroken, but he did the best he could in his situation. He clung to his faith, and it eventually led him to peace and blessings.
Job’s story resonates with me. I have turned to it many times in the relational suffering decades after my parents’ divorce. I relate to his feelings, and I’ve learned from his example. Here are three applications.
Job’s story was God’s story.
Job didn’t know that he played a role in God’s showdown with Satan, but we know because scripture tells us the backstage story first. Job was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (1:1). Job did nothing to bring pain on himself, just like children of divorce aren’t to blame for their parents’ choices. God granted Satan permission to test Job and suddenly strip everything away.
If we look behind the curtain of American culture, we can see that the era of no-fault divorce has been a prime weapon in Satan’s war against families. God established the family in the garden of Eden and called it very good (Genesis 1:27-31). The family is God’s ideal agent for the transfer of faith to future generations.
Divorce destroys families, and in the wake of destruction, Satan introduces doubt in the hearts and minds of the children as they grow. “I’ll always be doomed to failure.” “I’ll end up alone anyway.” “I’m better off not even trying, because I won’t get hurt again.” Satan used this same tactic when he tempted Job to doubt in God’s love and provision. His goal has always been to separate people from God, and that’s still his goal in divorced families today.
When I see my story as God’s story, I feel affirmed. I don’t have to figure it all out, because God is working behind the scenes and limiting what I have to endure. God is redeeming my story as he redeemed Job’s story, because I matter to him. When I suffer for doing nothing wrong, God is glorified in ways I can’t see. That thought brings me comfort and peace.
Job’s strength came from honesty.
In his struggles, Job didn’t stay silent. He vented all his feelings, and God allowed it. Job says,
For sighing comes to me instead of food; my groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, only turmoil. (3:24-26)
Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. (7:11)
He was honest about his pain—he didn’t try to hide it from God. He directly questioned God:
What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant? (7:17-19)
God encouraged Job to be honest with him. In the Bible God is closest to the people who pour all of their hearts out to him, the good and the bad. Like Job, I am surprised that God desires this much closeness with me. Yet I am strengthened by pouring out all my hurts, frustrations, and fears to him, because I know he can handle anything I give him.
Job’s suffering produced godly character.
No matter how depressed Job felt, he kept his faith in God. He said, “Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him…Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance” (13:15-16). He looked to God for redemption, saying, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (19:25). He never gave up hope in God, though his situation didn’t improve.
Job knew God’s character and referred to God again and again as the Almighty. But he was blown away when God appeared to him at the end of his suffering. God posed many rhetorical questions to Job, not addressing Job’s suffering at all. He questioned Job but did not condemn him. Job was silenced and humbled. Job didn’t need an answer once he met God and said, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (41:5-6).
I marvel at Job’s response. He no longer complained; he no longer sought answers. He was simply satisfied with God’s presence, and saw himself in the proper way again.
Author Kristine Steakley writes about children of divorce,
“God knows what our broken hearts need for healing to come, and he himself is the salve.”
Steakley, Kristine. Child of Divorce, Child of God: A Journey of Hope and Healing. Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL, 2008.
God never left Job alone, and he never leaves me alone. He has promised to be my healer and redeemer. He will continue to heal my wounds from abandonment, and I pray you will seek him for the same healing.
What part of Job’s story do you find challenging, encouraging, or convicting?
Father God, I praise you as my Healer and Redeemer. I trust that my story is your story, and that you have a plan and purpose for my suffering, even when I can’t see it. Thank you for allowing and encouraging complete honesty with you. I ask that you will continue to produce Christlike character through my trials. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Other posts in this series: