Job 1 Devotional
by Pastor David Groendyk
Why do bad things happen to good people? That’s a very personal question that requires some serious theological understanding to answer. The book of Job, in one sense, could be boiled down to that one question. It deals with suffering, temptation, God’s providence, and what it looks like to “fear the Lord” and trust in him through it. All throughout this book, various people ask (and try to answer) the question, “Why?” Why did Job lose everything? The wrong answer we’ll see proposed over and over again is that Job must be living in some sort of sin, and God is punishing him for it. Both Job and God himself say that that’s incorrect. God does not punish us with suffering because of sin we commit. There’s not a one-to-one correlation like that. So, then, why does God allow suffering? In this book, unfortunately, we don’t get the answer we want, but we do get the answer we need. God doesn’t tell us the reason that we have to endure trials, but he does remind us that he is all-powerful, all-wise, all-knowing, and all-loving. That’s all we need to know in order to put our trust in him. This first chapter of Job introduces us to Job, God, and Satan. It’s bookended with a description of Job’s uprightness, and in the middle we learn something about who God is and what he does.
Job’s character and integrity are outstanding. The author immediately wants us to know that Job is a godly man. He was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (v. 1). The Lord himself gives the exact same assessment of Job in verse 8. Isn’t this what you would want God to say of you? He’s blameless in character both when he has great wealth (v. 2) and after he’s lost everything (see Job 2:3). Notice also what he does for his children. He would regularly rise early in the morning and offer sacrifices on their behalf in case one of his kids might have sinned. This was a man who relied on God’s mercy to forgive sins, who desperately wanted others to know the same forgiveness, who consistently feared God and hated sin, and who refused to charge God with wrongdoing even after he lost everything he owned along with his children. These are tremendous characteristics of godliness that we should all imitate, especially Job’s response to his trials in verses 21–22. Satan’s question in verses 9–11 should penetrate straight to each one of our hearts. To paraphrase: “Why exactly do you fear God? Is it just because he’s made you prosperous and put a hedge around you?” What would happen if God took away everything precious to you in a single day? Would you still worship him? Would you be able to confess that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, and that his name is blessed either way? How was it possible for Job to keep his faith and godliness in the face of such great suffering?
Sandwiched in between the character assessments of Job is one of the most fascinating scenes in all of Scripture. We see God and Satan having a conversation. Satan has been doing his prowling up and down the face of the earth, seeking people to tempt. He’s skeptical of Job’s faith and wishes to test it. Certainly these verses tell us something about who Satan is. He’s a tempter, a deceiver, and quite powerful. Whatever he ends up doing on earth, he’s able to cause multiple huge catastrophes that destroy thousands of animals, numerous servants, and Job’s ten children. He causes unspeakable harm to Job. But, more importantly, here’s the lesson to take to heart: Satan can do nothing unless God gives him permission (v. 12). God and Satan are not equals. Satan is subservient to God. Satan is a creature; God is the Creator. Satan is not free to do whatever he pleases whenever he pleases. He answers to God. Even as we endure great trials and sufferings, we must remember that our lives are not out of control. Our lives are not at the whims of Satan. God is still sovereign and in control. Some well-meaning Christians will try to counsel and console fellow believers who are suffering by telling them that God wasn’t in control of it or had nothing to do with it. That might sound attractive and comforting, but it’s only superficially so. The truth of Scripture that gives us real hope and solace is that God is all-powerful and that not even Satan can make a move without God’s permission. When we entrust ourselves to God, we are entrusting ourselves to a good and faithful King and Savior, and we can trust that he is working things out for good in our lives.