Thoughts on Job

Job 23:10 “He knows the way that I take. When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”

In the past year I have done an informal study on suffering, not because I particularly wanted to, but because I am continually reminded in the Word of God that suffering is not optional. Having just read Job in my read-through-the-Bible program, suffering is really on my mind.

What do you suppose would have happened if Job had given up, cursed God, and died? I can’t imagine his suffering, having lost all his children, his home, his wife, his health. I can’t imagine his humiliation as friend after so-called friend told him that he deserved what he got for some sin he hadn’t confessed. Why on earth didn’t he end it all? How did he not perdre la tête (lose his mind)?

I’m not sure that if I were in Job’s boil-infested shoes that I could be as full of faith as Job was. I get overwhelmed by small, ridiculous things, like bills that are overdue, the unbearable heat in my apartment, or friends that may (or may not) be mad at me. I cry and whine about such pettiness, compared to Job.

When I read the verse, “I shall come forth” I notice that he doesn’t say “if I make it.” He doesn’t say, “If this doesn’t kill me first.” He accepts as fact that when he is tried, he will succeed in being transformed into gold.

Gold, of course, has no choice in the purification process. It cannot choose to jump away from that fire that exposes its impurities. It is an ugly lump that is slowly heated into liquid and then skimmed off, leaving only the pure metal behind. We humans have a choice. So many times, I believe that God has tried to melt me, so that my impurities could be exposed and removed by His grace, but I jump away from what burns me. And the conviction of the Spirit can really burn! Sometimes, when He is testing me, I remove myself from His presence, which is too hot and painful, preferring to keep my dirt and flaws, even if that means I remain an ugly lump. In my weakness, do I keep myself from being all that God could make of me, because I won’t let God purify my heart?

When I was a kid, I used to play a game with my younger brother, where we would tickle each other’s feet and see who could not twitch or giggle. I was a helpless, laughing fool if he tickled my feet (and you would think I would’ve learned not to show him my weaknesses, only to be exploited later in life!) He always won, because he could steel himself, gritting his teeth even, to keep from giving me the satisfaction of winning the game.

I think of Job, every muscle tensed against the itching, burning boils on his skin, stripped of every comfort his heart held dear. I think he probably gritted his teeth, too, when he determined, “I shall come forth as gold.”
Ariel Rainey