Summary: There are things in life that we can’t understand on earth, but we will understand them completely when we get to heaven. One of these things is God’s grace. Grace can’t be earned. It is the gift of God’s unconditional love.
In 1927, the silent film “Wings,” a World War I film about two American aviators, won the first Academy Award for Best Picture. When it was being filmed, production stopped for several days. Frustrated producers asked the director why. He replied, “All we have is blue sky. The conflict in the air will not be as visible without clouds. Clouds bring perspective.” The director was right. Only by seeing aerial combat with clouds as a backdrop could the viewer see what was really going on.
We see a good example of a similar situation in the passage we heard from Job earlier in this service. At the beginning of his suffering in Job 3:3-5, Job complained that “May the day perish on which I was born…May a cloud settle on it.” Job continued to suffer until God spoke. Then Job exclaimed in Job 42:5, “I have heard of you…but now my eye sees you.” Job had an encounter with God, and that changed his view of God’s purposes.
There are times in our own lives when we wish for blue skies instead of storm clouds, but cloudy skies often reveal God’s faithfulness. When we look back on the clouds in our lives, we gain new insights on how God has been faithful in our trials.
The Book of Job deals with the universal problem of human suffering. More importantly, it deals with the vindication of a good God in the face of evil and suffering. Nowhere is this more evident that the reading we heard from the Book of Job. God did in Job’s life what he did in the life of the nation of Israel. The way God led Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt didn’t make sense, and what he allowed in Job’s life didn’t make sense either. The Israelites suffered and complained, and so did Job. Both the Israelites and Job learned that God is sovereign and good. The only difference is that Job always remembered what he learned. The Israelites didn’t.
Job’s response to God is one of complete submission to God’s sovereignty. Job affirms that God is free-he can do anything-and he does what is good and right. Job was right where God wanted him to be-humbly bowing before God in worship and repentance. Job went from silence to submission.
Job did not confess to any of the sins he was accused of, nor did he say what he was told to say. Job was innocent of these accusations. Job’s fault was that in making judgments about matters, he did not understand, especially when he argued with God about his justice. God did not condemn Job for any sins or foolishness. He did chastise Job for saying that he could better explain what was happening in the world and better order and control its affairs. Job was wrong on both counts, so he repented.
The final picture of Job mirrors the opening picture of him in Job 1. God restored Job not because of Job’s sacrifice but as a gift. God restored Job’s family and fortune to a level surpassing that at the start of his suffering. God gave Job back twice as much as he lost, including another ten children. These children did not replace the first ten children, but were added to them. Between heaven and earth, Job had twenty children. The names Job gave to his daughters were Peace, Forgiveness and Beauty. The book of Job ends with a positive picture of Job and focuses on his character. Job acknowledged all of his children as equals in the inheritance he left them. That was a rarity in ancient times because of the society’s attitude toward women. Job probably lived to the age of 210, which was a typical lifespan in Job’s time. The term “Old and full of days” meant that Job lived a rich, full life until the day he died. Job stayed faithful to God during his suffering, so God wisely rewarded him.
Job is a good example of the fact that God allows suffering so that he can test us or teach us something. My own life is a good example. God used my father’s suffering and death to bring me back to the church and in to lay ministry. Consequently, my ministry has been blessed by God and used to bless others. God allowed Job to come to a point where he humbled himself before God and finally found peace. In the same way God let me come to a point where I humbly submitted to his will.
Job was at a point where he had to confess that he was weak, unwise, wordy and unworthy. All of us have had times in our lives where we had to make some type of confession, and Job was no exception. Even if we have never sinned, our pride can get the best of us by ruling our lives. Job was relying on his own strength instead of relying on God. How many times have we made the same mistake? How many times has God had to make us suffer and realize that we need him? When we are at the lowest points in our lives and turn to God in repentance, we find out the truth behind the old saying that “What does not kill you makes you stronger.” God’s redeeming grace can take us from tragedy to triumph and from disbelief to a strong faith.