The Book of Job is not my favorite book of Scripture, but it is dear to my heart all the same. I often read Job when I need encouragement. Sometimes I ask myself why that is; Job doesn’t have an easy time being tested. He loses his family and his home, and even his friends turn against him. Despite this, the Book of Job encourages me and teaches me.
First, Job paints a realistic view of suffering. When he learns he has not only lost his property but also his children, Job tears his clothes and exclaims, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Job accepts what has happened to him, but that doesn’t stop him from complaining. He curses the day he was born and “speak[s] in the anguish of [his] spirit” (7:11). The Book of Job reassures me when I am struggling to accept trials, because despite his complaints, “Job did not sin” (1:22). God understands our human weakness, he “remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14) and struggle to accept his will.
Second, Job reaffirms God’s sovereignty. God’s response to Job is as funny as it is awe-inspiring. You can almost hear the sarcasm in God’s voice when he says, “Declare, if you know all this.” (38:18). Or in my favorite verse, “You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!” (38:21) But even in the midst of God’s scathing rebuke, Job reveals a God who has created the world, orders its days, and looks after each of its creatures. God “hunt[s] prey for the lion” (38:39) and knows each star by name. Moreover, every good work, every good thing we do or have, is because of God’s love. The lion may catch his own prey, but God still feeds him. All things are under God’s mighty hand, and even in our struggles he remembers us and orders everything to our good.
Third, Job assures us of God’s promises. When Elihu speaks on God’s behalf he says, “For according to the work of a man [God] will repay him…God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice” (34:11-12). When Job is angry he cries, “Let the Almighty answer me!” (31:35) because he knows he hasn’t sinned. Finally God does answer, but instead of contending with God as he had planned, Job trembles and says, “I am of small account; what shall I answer you?” (40:4) Job humbles himself before God; he knows he has been prideful and repents. He stays faithful to God rather than asserting his own will, and God rewards him for it. Job receives all he had twofold, and dies an old, happy man. Job’s story reminds us that God is not cruel and unjust. He will keep his promises; our suffering in this life doesn’t mean God has abandoned us, and he is always with us. Like St. Paul also says, if we only trust God and serve him faithfully, he will reward us. God’s promises are unbreakable, and he will never forget them. He will never forget us, and he will never allow us to suffer meaninglessly.
I chose the title “Out of the Whirlwind” for this blog because I hope that, like Job, I will remember I serve a powerful, sovereign God. I hope that I will never lose sight of His surpassing greatness and unfailing love. I want to be able to say with Job, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (42:1-2). I want to hear my Lord’s voice out of the whirlwind of this life and say with the Psalmist, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you” (Ps. 16:2). I hope this will be a fruitful endeavor for everyone as I discuss Scripture, the Faith, and my journey with the Lord. Please follow along. I hope to post more soon.
All above Scripture is quoted from the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition, available via Ignatius Press.
In His Sacred Heart,