I love the story of Job.
Does that puzzle you? Do you wonder why anyone would love a story that’s filled with suffering and pain?
Please let me explain.
To me, the story of a man, who loses his livelihood and almost everyone dear to him, isn’t just a story of trouble and heartache.
It’s about trusting God even when everything looks dark and difficult and of how the Lord can bring us hope in the midst of hardship.
Now, I’m excited to say that the Citywide Women’s Bible Study will host a seven-week course by Lisa Harper called “Job — An Unlikely Story of Joy.”
The study begins at 10 a.m., on Saturdays starting Sept. 29 at Full Life Church, 2380 Seaton Ave., in Fremont. It features video presentations with Harper, who is a masterful speaker.
Harper was director of Focus on the Family’s national women’s ministry for six years and a speaker on the Women of Faith national arena tour for eight years.
The study includes group discussion before and after the video.
I’ll facilitate the non-denominational study and I hope lots of women will be able to attend.
This study also includes a workbook, which is $18.50 (the cost includes postage and handling).
Participants are asked to please register by calling the church office at (402) 721-1010, or by logging in to the church website at https://www.fulllifechurch.org.
To allow time for workbook delivery, we’re asking that you register by Sept. 17.
If you’re someone who hates workbooks, you don’t have to get one. You can still benefit a lot from the videos and table discussion.
Please just come.
Granted, I know weekends can be busy, but — to me — Bible study is something you do to grow closer to God and to recharge your own spiritual batteries.
This is also an opportunity to learn more about a Bible-times man who not only survived — but thrived.
As Job’s story begins, we meet a man who’s rich and has a good reputation.
If Job were alive today, he’d probably be on a Fortune 500 list.
Job had thousands of head of livestock and lots of servants. He had seven sons and three daughters.
One day, Satan pays a visit to the Lord, who asks if he’s ever thought about Job.
Nobody on earth is as blameless and upright as Job.
“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 God tells Satan that he can do what he wants with what Job has — but he can’t harm him.
Human enemies then steal much of Job’s livestock. And what they don’t take is burned up from fire that falls from heaven.
Most of Job’s servants die, too — except about four who are left to tell him what’s happened.
Job then learns all his children have been killed when a big wind hits the house they’re in and the roof collapses.
Despite all this, Job remains faithful to God. Job never curses God nor sins against him.
When God points out to Satan how well Job has maintained his integrity, the devil contends that a man would do anything to save his own life.
So Satan is allowed to afflict, but not kill Job.
Poor Job breaks out in itchy, oozing sores from head to foot. Job’s grief-stricken wife tells him to just curse God and die.
Then some of Job’s friends decide to come and comfort him.
They don’t even recognize the deeply grieving man when they see him from a distance.
At first, the friends do something that’s really smart.
They sit with him and say nothing for seven days. That’s what you call the “ministry of presence” and it’s a good example of what people should do right after someone’s had a loss.
But after a while, Job’s friends try to make sense of the unexplainable.
They assume Job must have done something wrong to have all this bad stuff happen.
And if Job would just repent, everything would be all right.
While it’s true people suffer the consequences of bad choices, this wasn’t the case with Job.
Job knows he’s not perfect, but he can’t figure out what he could have done wrong.
He rescued the poor and the fatherless. He was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. He stuck up for strangers and felt bad when others suffered.
If Job were alive on earth today, he might have gotten one of those Aksarben Good Neighbor Awards. He could have been an Eagle Scout and a noted philanthropist.
That said, Job’s friends engage in long and inaccurate speeches about how innocent people always prosper and sinful ones always come to ruin.
They think suffering is an automatic sign of sinfulness.
We know that’s not true. Nowhere in Scripture does it say God will take away all trouble from people who truly love him and try to do his will.
In this world, innocent people do suffer, justice doesn’t always prevail and Godly people aren’t always rescued from tough times.
We’ve lived in a fallen, broken world ever since Adam and Eve ate that forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
But as Christians, we have the hope of Jesus Christ our Savior, who died so we can spend eternal life with him in heaven — a place devoid of suffering and sin.
As Christ’s followers, we also have the opportunity to have a richer, more abundant life here on earth as we grow to closer to our Lord and learn to see his work in our lives.
God is good and we can trust him, even if we don’t understand everything that’s happening in this world — even as we experience suffering.
At the same time, the Lord can mold us into people we never thought we could become — stronger, more faithful, grateful folks who can rest, knowing he loves and has good plans for us.
Simply put: He knows what he’s doing.
Another thing I love about the story of Job is that he never quit on God.
Job was upset and frustrated. Sometimes, he wanted God to leave him alone and sometimes he desperately wanted God to answer him.
But he never walked away from God.
He hung onto to the hope of God like someone adrift in the ocean hangs onto a life preserver tossed to him from a ship.
And in the end, God not only pulled Job out of the waters of despair, but set him a sail toward a new future.
God restored to Job twice as much as he lost. Job had seven more sons and three more daughters — women said to be the most beautiful anywhere. Job would live to see the fourth generation of his family.
Today, I believe Job is enjoying the bliss of heaven.
And I wonder if Job can fathom how much his story has strengthened and comforted generations of people.
I pray area women will embark on this journey of faith, hope and fellowship — and come to love the story of Job even more than I do.