January 17 – Job 1:13-22
And how does Job respond? He worships. But don’t think he was having a little praise dance by himself—Job tore his robe and shaved his head, ancient signs of mourning. Anyone who saw him would’ve known he was in the depths of despair. And yet he worshipped, saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”(1:21) Notice just how open-handed Job was with his worldly prosperity. He observes in his prayer that all he had was a gift from the Lord. He treated nothing with entitlement—all that he had was the Lord’s to both give and take away.
In Job we see an example of suffering that is likely pretty foreign to us. In fact, you might even read Job’s reaction as callous, especially over the death of his children. But if Job’s reaction seems alien to us then it reveals our worldliness. Reading the text we get the sense that he was never once confused about where his possessions and security came from, nor did he let his prosperity interfere with his faith. The reason Job’s loss didn’t keep him from worship is because he never let his prosperity keep him from worship. If we curse God in our loss, it’s probably because we’ve already stopped blessing him in our abundance. What we see in 1:20-22 is just the way Job had been living for years, and this kind of faithfulness can only be called a gift from God.
To reiterate, Job still mourns throughout this process. The text here doesn’t advocate a Christian form of stoicism, on in which we’re unmoved by suffering and loss. What it does advocate is a bigger picture on suffering, one in which every good thing, including our devotion to God, is a gift, and a proper orientation to these gifts keeps them from leading our hearts away from God. No wonder God allows us to suffer from time to time; suffering is one of the best diagnostics for determining where you’ve placed your security, well being, and hope.
But Job’s story isn’t only meant to exemplify faithful suffering. Job’s story points ahead to an even greater picture of undeserved suffering: Jesus on the cross. Job gives us a window on faithfulness in the midst of trial, but Jesus’ death actually makes sense of suffering. Why do we suffer? For many reasons, but particularly because of the curse of sin, both in our lives and in the world at large. And why did Jesus die on the cross? For many reasons, but primarily to redeem us from the curse of our sin. Suffering is caused by sin, so the only real solution must address sin. The cross is suffering explained and suffering solved.
Questions for Discussion
• Would someone read Job 1:13-22 for us?
• What stands out to you from this passage?
• Thinking back to last week, why does all this happen to Job?
• What do you think about Job’s response to all this suffering?
• If we’re honest, most of us wouldn’t have reacted this way. In what ways are you more prone to “charge God with wrong”?
• Could someone read 1 Peter 2:19-25? How does Jesus’ suffering help us make sense of our own suffering?
• When we suffer, what is it about God that still makes him worthy of our worship?
• Close by reading 1 Peter 4:19, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”