The story of Job (pronounced jobe) is referenced more often than any other Bible story when believers try to find answers as to why good people suffer. The Cliff Notes version of the book of Job goes like this: When God pointed out to Satan that there was no one like Job on the earth who was righteous in all his ways, Satan got permission to take away through death and disaster almost everything Job had. Job refused to curse God, so Satan got permission from God to inflict Job with painful boils all over his body. Still, Job maintained a God-fearing attitude. Then four friends tried to reason with Job as to why all this evil had befallen him. At the end of the book, after everyone, including Job, offered his opinion, God revealed his awesome power and incomprehensible wisdom to Job through a series of questions. When Job confessed to God that he is “of no account” and repented of his presumptuousness, the Lord commended Job and restored to him twice as much as he had before.
But here is the amazing thing…God never explained to Job WHY He allowed the terrible afflictions to happen to Job in the first place!
Job is so exemplary to us because he experienced more pain and calamity in a few days that most of us will experience in a lifetime, yet he refused to blame God. His complied responses to the terrible things that happened to him read like this:
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “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.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. (Job 1:20-22 ESV)
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:9-10 ESV)
James, in his epistle, commends Job for his steadfast faith and his refusal to grumble:
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:9-11 ESV)
Believers often consider how we can be “salt and light” to those around us. Sometimes we post nice things on our Facebook pages. Other times we encourage our friends with words of faith and assurance. And often we act like Old Testament prophets, giving strong opinions about the evil we see in the world. All of these actions may be good and necessary if done at the right time and in appropriate ways. But I think the most simple yet radical way we can share our faith with others may not be in what we do, but in what we don’t do…consider this admonition Paul gives in his letter to the Philippians:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life… (Philippians 2:14-16a ESV)
Paul implies that by avoiding grumbling and disputing we will “shine as lights in the world.” Did you ever consider that you could be most fruitful in your own personal ministry to others simply by the avoidance of a negative grumbling attitude? Like Job, if we really do trust that “God works all things for good” (Romans 8:28) we should work harder to cultivate a positive attitude that doesn’t seek to ascribe blame and refuses to grumble and complain. May God help us shine!