In 1927, the silent film “Wings,” a World War I film about two American aviators, won the first Academy Award for Best Picture. When it was being filmed, production stopped for several days. Frustrated producers asked the director why. He replied, “All we have is blue sky. The conflict in the air will not be as visible without clouds. Clouds bring perspective.” The director was right. Only by seeing aerial combat with clouds as a backdrop could the viewer see what was really going on.
We see a good example of a similar situation in Job 42:1-6,10-17. At the beginning of his suffering in Job 3:3-5, Job complained that “May the day perish on which I was born…May a cloud settle on it.” Job continued to suffer until God spoke. Then Job exclaimed in Job 42:5, “I have heard of you…but now my eye sees you.” Job had an encounter with God, and that changed his view of God’s purposes.
There are times in our own lives when we wish for blue skies instead of storm clouds, but cloudy skies often reveal God’s faithfulness. When we look back on the clouds in our lives, we gain new insights on how God has been faithful in our trials.
The Book of Job deals with the universal problem of human suffering. More importantly, it deals with the vindication of a good God in the face of evil and suffering. Nowhere is this more evident that the reading we heard from the Book of Job. God did in Job’s life what he did in the life of the nation of Israel. The way God led Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt didn’t make sense, and what he allowed in Job’s life didn’t make sense either. The Israelites suffered and complained, and so did Job. Both the Israelites and Job learned that God is sovereign and good. The only difference is that Job always remembered what he learned. The Israelites didn’t.
Job’s response to God is one of complete submission to God’s sovereignty. Job affirms that God is free-he can do anything-and he does what is good and right. Job was right where God wanted him to be-humbly bowing before God in worship and repentance. Job went from silence to submission.
Job did not confess to any of the sins he was accused of, nor did he say what he was told to say. Job was innocent of these accusations. Job’s fault was that in making judgments about matters, he did not understand, especially when he argued with God about his justice. God did not condemn Job for any sins or foolishness. He did chastise Job for saying that he could better explain what was happening in the world and better order and control its affairs. Job was wrong on both counts, so he repented.
The final picture of Job mirrors the opening picture of him in Job 1. God restored Job not because of Job’s sacrifice but as a gift. God restored Job’s family and fortune to a level surpassing that at the start of his suffering. God gave Job back twice as much as he lost, including another ten children. These children did not replace the first ten children, but were added to them. Between heaven and earth, Job had twenty children. The names Job gave to his daughters were Peace, Forgiveness and Beauty. The book of Job ends with a positive picture of Job and focuses on his character. Job acknowledged all of his children as equals in the inheritance he left them. That was a rarity in ancient times because of the society’s attitude toward women. Job probably lived to the age of 210, which was a typical lifespan in Job’s time. The term “Old and full of days” meant that Job lived a rich, full life until the day he died. Job stayed faithful to God during his suffering, so God wisely rewarded him.
Job is a good example of the fact that God allows suffering so that he can test us or teach us something. My own life is a good example. God used my father’s suffering and death to bring me back to the church and in to lay ministry. Consequently, my ministry has been blessed by God and used to bless others. God allowed Job to come to a point where he humbled himself before God and finally found peace. In the same way God let me come to a point where I humbly submitted to his will.
Job was at a point where he had to confess that he was weak, unwise, wordy and unworthy. All of us have had times in our lives where we had to make some type of confession, and Job was no exception. Even if we have never sinned, our pride can get the best of us by ruling our lives. Job was relying on his own strength instead of relying on God. How many times have we made the same mistake? How many times has God had to make us suffer and realize that we need him? When we are at the lowest points in our lives and turn to God in repentance, we find out the truth behind the old saying that “What does not kill you makes you stronger.” God’s redeeming grace can take us from tragedy to triumph and from disbelief to a strong faith.
Worldliness can distort our view of God. Once we confess our ignorance and keep our mouths shut, we can see God clearly. We get to know him for ourselves. We don’t have to depend on human reasoning to define God. We don’t have to be afraid of God’s power because we have seen God’s grace. We don’t need an explanation for everything because we’ve placed our trust in God.
Sometimes when we suffer, we wonder where God is. We are not alone in asking this question. In his book, “Where is God When it Hurts?” author Philip Yancey answered this question. Here is his answer, and it is the same answer for each of us:
He has been there from the beginning…
He has watched us reflect His image…
He has used pain, even in its grossest forms, to teach us…
He has let us cry out and echo Job…
He has allied Himself with the poor and suffering…
He has promised supernatural strength to nourish our spirit…
He has joined us…hurt and bled and cried and suffered
He has dignified for all time those who suffer…
He is with us now…
He is waiting…
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
Instead of asking why God hasn’t kept his promises, we need to ask ourselves if there is anything we are doing that is keeping God from fulfilling his promises.
When God condemned Job’s friends, Job interceded for them. This was part of Job’s repentance, and because he showed grace to his friends, enemies and family, God gave Job grace. Job prayed for his friends, and that was evidence that Job’s heart was no longer filled with resentment or bitterness toward them. Job forgave them and experienced God’s forgiveness for himself.
When we pray for others, our own lives will change. The more we appreciate God, the more we will depreciate or humble ourselves. When the thought of God rises higher and higher, our pride will sink lower and lower.
There are things in life that we can’t understand on earth, but we will understand them completely when we get to heaven. One of these things is God’s grace. Grace can’t be earned. It is the gift of God’s unconditional love. Job’s intercession was a prophetic image for Christ’s intercession for his enemies when he was dying on the cross. Grace holds no grudges, and neither did Christ or Job. They accepted those who abandoned them just like God still loves us even when we abandon him.
Satan is always looking for ways to attack God’s children, and when he does attack, God is still in control. Even when Satan does his worst like he did when he made Job suffer, God does his best for us. When the devil attacks, we must continue to surrender our lives to God’s will, because God will always defeat the devil.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013)
- ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
- McKenna, D.L. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 12; Job (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1986)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NKJV (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles, 2005)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, NASV (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- “Perspective from the Clouds.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Steve Arterburn, “Nothing to Prove.” Retrieved from Christianity.firstname.lastname@example.org