Summary: A God's-eye view on the struggles of life.
THE TRIALS OF JOB
Job was an upright man. There was none so righteous in the entire East. No doubt, like Lot, he vexed his righteous soul with the wickedness of those around him. He worried lest his sons might not follow him in his righteousness: lest perhaps they might have sinned in their days of feasting. We should likewise be concerned for our young people, and pray for generations yet unborn.
God had blessed Job with children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord… Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them!” (Psalm 127:3-5).
God had also blessed Job with riches.
Satan was found amongst the sons of God. “We war not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12). Satan’s remit is to test God’s people: but notice it is God who issues the challenge. This is not a contest of equals - it is God who is Sovereign. It is God who sets the limits to Satan’s maliciousness. The Son of God knows that cruelty first hand, and is found at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf. We have a compassionate Saviour, tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.
In the secret councils of heaven, into which the early part of the Book of Job gives us a privileged glance, we twice see Satan suggesting to God that Job's piety is because God has pampered him.
“Destroy his wealth and see if he will not curse God,” says Satan (Job 1:11). This God permitted, limiting Satan at first not to harm his health. Nothing happens without God's permission.
God does permit His people to suffer. Suffering, we are told, does improve the character. It is for us, however, not only to persevere in adversity, but to seek to improve our sufferings. Temptation is not sin: Jesus was tempted, but He didn’t sin. We might reverently and cautiously say that God is behind our temptations, tests and trials: and God always does what is best.
Job was tested. His prosperity disappeared in a day. We must learn to hold the things of this world with a loose hand. Worse still, he lost all his children in a horrific series of tragedies.
Job passed this first test, with the famous words so often recalled by believers at funerals, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there: the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).
In a second meeting, God reminded the accuser of the brethren that “still Job held fast his integrity, even though you move me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3).
Okay, said Satan, he's passed the test on wealth, but let me attack his health and then he will curse God. This God now permitted, but again setting a limit. Spare his life!
Our enemy never gives up. The more we hold on to our faith, the more he attacks us. But however much Satan, like a wild animal, is let loose against us, he can still go no further than the chain which God keeps around his neck.