God’s Gift of Adversity

The story of Job is one of the most challenging and humbling accounts in all the Bible. In it we learn of a man whom God describes as “blameless and upright, and one who feared God an shunned evil.” Nevertheless, the integrity in which Job walked was unable to protect him from the cruel suffering he experienced. The more cynical among us might see Job’s testing as proof that God capriciously destroys his creation on a whim, in this case attempting to prove a point in a philosophical argument with Satan. In fact, Job’s wife expressed such cynicism in her challenge to Job in 2:9, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity?” While her response was no doubt fueled by the immense grief which must have accompanied the loss of all 10 of her children in a single day, her words betray an assumption that it was only because of Job’s integrity that he suffered. When Job’s “friends” finally began to converse with him about his predicament, their only response was to assume that his apparent integrity was false. His wife, on the other hand, knew full well that Job had done nothing deserving of such treatment at God’s hand. In her mind, a God who would treat his loyal followers that way ought not to be followed at all, and so she accompanied her question with a suggested course of action, “Curse God and die!” Job’s answer in v.10 is compelling. “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Instead of declaring that some good must come out of the pain he endures, or that God’s greater purpose must be fulfilled, and then trying to speculate on just what that might be, he simply acknowledged that goodness and adversity both come from God. It is interesting to note that Satan is not mentioned again, for indeed, he does not deserve the credit for these events in Job’s life; they truly came from God, himself.

We may find it difficult to believe that anyone so tested by adversity could respond in faith rather than frustration, but Job stands as an example of such faith. You see, it is not simply that God allows his children to endure great difficulties in this life, but Job rightly understood that the adversity he faced was due to God’s direct involvement in his life. We must recognize that God’s favor does not come simply because we are obedient, nor do trials only accompany sinfulness. When others would have us give up our integrity, we may respond with the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

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