Job – God’s sovereignty in suffering

He said, “Naked I came from my mothers womb, and naked I will return there. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. May the name of the Lord be blessed!” In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with moral impropriety. Job 1:21-22

This passage follows Job’s extravagant outburst of sorrow. He tore his robe, shaved his head and threw himself face down to the group. Imagine a child in a shopping aisle in tantrum. This picture frames his words. In his anguish, he philosophises with a sense of symmetry:

  • We came with nothing and we leave with nothing
  • God gives and God takes away

Job’s rollercoaster life illustrates the very things that our sovereign God gives and takes away – life and everything in it while his spoken analogy of birth and death reflects the sovereignty of God giving and taking away perfectly. This illustrates 2 things for us:

  • Nothing in this life is permanent – the gift of life (on this earth) is transient
  • Nothing is outside of God’s control – the sovereignty of God is all encompassing (Job 42:2)

These are 2 very important concepts that Job teaches us. But lets not forget the third – God’s plan is good:

So the Lord restored what Job had lost after he prayed for his friends and the Lord doubled all that had belonged to Job… So the Lord blessed the second part of Job’s life more than the first.
Job 42:10, 12 (see 10-17)

God wants good for us. The ultimate goodness that God wants for us is not comfort, health and wealth because these things are all transient but Himself – everlasting, all powerful and all good. Sometimes God does bring goodness in this life as is the case in Job but we can be sure He brings it in the next. Notice that although it says that all these good things are restored to him “after” or “when” he prayed for his friends, it was not because of Job’s actions. God’s goodness is not shown here to be dependant on our action.

Job’s exclamation is entirely appropriate: “May the name of the Lord be praised!” This is not fatalistic “que sara sara” exclamation, this is “praise God” active acknowledgment for His gift (transient it may be), his sovereignty and his goodness. Job even before God restored him had already found the ultimate goodness – God himself.

Quiet and loud

The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
Zephaniah 3:17 NASB

God isn’t just ok or lukewarm towards me. There is no way that anyone can read that verse and think that God tolerates me or permits me to live. No. God rejoices over me. The joy He feels overflows. There is a huge party going on in heaven because what was once lost is now redeemed by the work of Christ. This is truly undeserved grace.

It says that He is quiet in His love and rejoices with shouts of joy. He is both quiet and shouting with joy. Who can rejoice with shouts of joy and savour joy with quietness at the exact same time? Who else but God. He can, simply because He is God.

This week has been very trying. I was told that I might not have a job at the end of the month. Hurtful words were said to me. Yet when I come to God with all my troubles, I know that God is good and that He rejoices in me. When I am defeated and down, the words “victorious warrior” stand out to me. He isn’t a defeated warrior or once-was-great retired veteran, he is the victorious warrior. This warrior rejoices in me. Wow.

It is Friday. TGIF. I’ve been carried through this week by His word. Here are a few that carried me through.

You are good, and you do good;
Psalm 119:68

When the fig tree does not bud,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
when the olive trees do not produce,
and the fields yield no crops;
when the sheep disappear from the pen,
and there are no cattle in the stalls,
I will rejoice because of the Lord;
I will be happy because of the God who delivers me!
Habakkuk 3:17-18