Editor’s note: This is a third and last in a series of columns about Job.
We can learn so much from the book of Job.
I’ll quickly recap the Biblical account.
Found in the Old Testament, Job is the story of a man who endures terrible suffering, but comes to see God in a whole new way and later becomes doubly blessed.
When we first meet Job, he’s a rich man with thousands of head of livestock and lots of servants. He has seven sons and three daughters.
One day Satan comes before the Lord, who touts Job’s integrity.
No one else on earth is as upright and blameless.
“You think he does this for no reason?” Satan fires back. “You’ve put a hedge of protection around him and everything he has. You take that away and he’ll curse you to your face.”
So the Lord tells Satan that he can do what he wants with what Job has — but the devil isn’t allowed to hurt him.
Human enemies steal much of Job’s livestock. And what they don’t steal is burned up by fire from heaven. Most of Job’s servants die, too, with only a few left to break the bad news.
Then the worst news comes when Job learns all his children have been killed after a big wind hit the house they were in and the roof collapsed.
Despite such terrible things, Job remains faithful to God — something the Lord points out to Satan. The devil then contends a man will do anything to save his own life. Satan is allowed to afflict, but not kill Job — who breaks out in terrible sores from head to foot.
Through all his suffering, however, Job neither curses nor sins against God.
Later, Job’s friends try to comfort him, but only add to his misery. They just can’t figure out how such terrible things could have happened to this good man. They assume he must have some hidden sin and urge repentance.
Yet Job can’t figure out what he’s done wrong. He’s helped lots of people.
Job will struggle with despair and anguish. Sometimes, he’ll wish God would leave him alone. Sometimes, he’ll be desperate to hear from God.
And out of the storm, God will answer Job — basically letting him know there are many mysteries he won’t understand and that only the Lord sees the big picture.
In the end, Job repents for things he’s said. God tells Job’s friends that what they said wasn’t right and has Job pray for them.
God then restores twice as much to Job as he had before. Job will have seven more sons and three more daughters, who are the most beautiful women anywhere. Job lives to be 140 years old and sees his descendants to the fourth generation.
What do we learn from Job?
One of the main things is this: Don’t quit on God.
After my husband, Chuck, died people told me that I was strong, because I didn’t turn away from God.
But turning away wouldn’t have made sense.
To me, it would be like being on a ship in the middle of the ocean. The ship tips or you lean too far over and fall into the water.
You’re flailing amid the waves when someone throws you a life preserver.
Would you refuse the help? Would you say: “No, I’m not taking that! If the ship hadn’t tipped and had a better handrail, I wouldn’t be here!”
No, you’d grab onto that life preserver and hang on tight.
In much the same way, why turn from God, the only one who really can help us?
Take the analogy further. What if you decide to struggle in the water and try to swim to an island?
Forget about getting so tired you might sink in the waves of despair. Forget about the sharks (human and otherwise).
What if you make it to that island? You can sit on the shore with the rest of the crabby shore-sitters. Maybe you’ll find an OK spouse and job on the island. Maybe, you’ll go fishing once in a while.
But here’s kicker — You’ll never know where that ship could have taken you.
That ship could have taken you to lovely tropical islands or places where you saw dolphins and whales swim in the ocean. You might have gone deep sea diving and seen beautiful, colorful fish.
The same is true when God’s our ship. He can take us to beautiful places spiritually we never could have imagined. He can help us make wonderful friends with inspiring faith stories.
Will there be storms?
Yes, but we’ll be on the ship!
Throughout the years, I’ve interviewed veterans who’ve talked about riding on huge ships to and from other countries. Terrible storms arose. They might have been fearful or seasick.
But they made it — because they were on the ship.
Years ago, I also interviewed a woman whose dad survived the sinking of the Titanic. He made it from the lower decks to a lifeboat and saw the great ship sink.
I don’t want to take away — at all — from what Titanic passengers suffered, but we all know: You don’t have to be on a boat to have a Titanic experience.
You know the feeling. Your ship’s going down in the murky waters of fear and anguish and you’re wondering: “Where is my lifeboat?”
God is your lifeboat.
He’s the boat that doesn’t smash against the shore, doesn’t wear with age and doesn’t sink.
When you’re in tough, rising waters, get in that lifeboat and hang on. Actually, never leave the boat.
The second thing we learn from Job’s story is this: Trust God.
One Wednesday night after Chuck died, my pastor gave a great sermon on having faith for the big things in life.
I sat in the Full Life Church sanctuary thinking: “I did have faith. I believed for the big things. I believed Chuck would be healed.”
Then the most amazing thing happened.
It was like the air rippled and I felt the Holy Spirit speak one word — not audibly — but into my spirit.
And that word was: Trust.
In the week that followed, I kept seeing that word. I went into a local mortuary, where an employee had a sticky note attached to a computer monitor. The word, “trust,” was on that note.
I was driving down Broad Street when I noticed a church marquee which read: “Everything will be OK. Trust me, says God.” I walked into a classroom at Trinity Lutheran School for a session of GriefShare.
On the wall was a pretty mural with the words: “Trust in the Lord.”
I didn’t have to be Albert Einstein to figure out this equation: God was trying to tell me to trust him.
Granted, I hated what had happened. I didn’t want to become a widow at age 53. I wanted to grow old with my beloved husband.
But I’ve come to learn that we don’t know the end of our life stories on earth.
Just like Job couldn’t foresee all the good that was ahead in his life, we don’t know what God has planned in our futures.
God sees the future — with all its hardships and blessings — that we do not.
Jesus went to a horrible death on the cross knowing salvation for us was ahead. He understands suffering and can provide us with strength when we need it.
So please stay on the ship. You might get seasick, but you never know where it could take you on this earth.
And in the end, we know it docks at the great shores of heaven — the best destination ever.