Thursday, November 20, 2008


In the last blog I shared some introductory insights into this great Old Testament book. Now let me share a gleaning from each of the chapters.

  1. Verse 21 is one of the greatest proclamations of faith in the Bible. After losing everything, Job's first words were, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

  2. I wonder how many spouses have been successful in leading their mates to turn away from the Lord.

  3. Job asks a question that is still prominent today: What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense?

  4. The first speech by Eliphaz suggests that Job must have done something wrong to have gone through the losses he did.

  5. "If I were in your shoes...." People suffering like Job usually don't need advice. They just need friendship and compassion.

  6. Job is brutally honest in expressing his disappointment in his friends.

  7. He is also brutally honest with God--"Don't you have better things to do than pick on me?"

  8. Bildad's turn--full of advice. He believed Job's woes had to come about as a result of sin.

  9. Job asks one of the most pertinent and profound questions ever asked: "How can mere mortals get right with God?"

  10. Job, why don't you tell us how you really feel?

  11. Job's friends meant well, even though a comfort, they really weren't.

  12. Job speaks tons of wisdom when he can say in the midst of his suffering that God is sovereign over the universe.

  13. Job has two requests for God: God, back off the trials. God, give me an audience so I can ask you some questions.

  14. One of his questions is still being asked today--one of life's ultimate questions: If we humans die, will we ever live again?

  15. Much of what Job's friends say is accurate. It's just that they act like they have life all figured out.

  16. Job relentlessly gives his friends, God, and the earth a tongue lashing.

  17. Job's mood seems to move from anger to desperate brokenness: "My spirit is broken, my days used up."

  18. Bildad, Round 2--He's a bottom-line kind of guy. Very simply, he says, "It is the wicked who go down."

  19. Even though Job has suffered pain, rejection, and hopelessness, he makes one of the most profound statements in the book--"Still, I know that God lives."

  20. Zophar's speech reminds me of someone who is more hipped up on analyzing a crisis instead of being a friend to one in a crisis.

  21. Job raises the age-old question: Why do the wicked prosper and the good suffer?

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I'll spend a few blogs talking about some of my learnings from my recent read through the book of Job out of The Message Bible. Before blogging chapter by chapter, here are some initial thoughts I gleaned from Eugene Peterson's introductory comments.

Why is this book so important to us? First, because Job suffered in the same areas we do--family, personal health, and material things. Second, because he took his questions to the top--to God Himself. It is suffering when we are trying to do everything right that angers us and causes us to question God.

It is important to remember that Job does not seek to get rid of the problem by getting rid of God. Nor does he explain suffering. Nor does he tell us how to live to avoid suffering. It is a mystery, and he comes to respect the mystery. Job finds himself in a greater mystery--the mystery of God--and how suffering can bring a person into the presence of God in a state of worship--full of wonder, love, and praise. Real faith can't be reduced to spiritual platitudes. It is refined in the fires and storms of pain and suffering.

When dealing with and ministering to friends going through suffering, we must not try to fix them or provide "simple" answers to their "why" questions. We must keep in mind that we don't really fully understand their problems. They may not want our advice. Followers of Christ may actually suffer more. So instead of trying to prevent suffering (which we can't anyway), we should enter the suffering as much as we are able and look around for God. We need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them, learn from them, and join them in protest and prayer. Shared suffering can be life-changing. Reading Job prayerfully helps us face the questions that arise when things don't turn out as we planned or hoped for.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."