But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (Job 23:10, NIV)
Of all the ancestors of faith in the Bible, Job is the representative figure of perseverance who did not turn away from God but kept his faith to the last. James 5:11 tells and encourages us to value perseverance by emphasizing the blessings that the Lord finally gave Job.
Job feared God. He was upright and faultless because he was faithfully obedient to the word of the Lord. God loved Job and gave him rich blessings. God let him have seven sons and three daughters and also gave terrific wealth, so that Job had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yokes of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a large number of servants who kept all these things. Whenever the birthday of the seven sons returned, each invited his father Job and all his brothers and sisters to eat and drink and to have a joyful feast. When the feast was over, Job was concerned that his children had sinned against God. So, he had them purified by sacrificing a burnt offering for each of them early in the morning. Job was living very happily in God’s blessing.
One day, one of Job’s servants came to Job from far away with a deathly pale face and said, “We let the oxen plow and the donkeys graze nearby. Then, the Sabeans suddenly attacked and carried them off. They also killed all our servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While Job was listening to him, another servant ran to him and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky abruptly and burned up the sheep and the servants in an instant! I am the only one who has escaped to tell my master!” These happened so quickly together that Job could not figure out what was going on yet. He did not know what to say.
Then, another servant came and said, “My lord! The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They brandished swords to kill us. Only I could survive and escape.” All the livestock and servants that Job had possessed were killed and plundered at once.
While the three servants were still standing, another one ran to Job. “What happened this time?” The servant cried out and said, “Oh, lord! Your all children were feasting and drinking wine at the house of your oldest child. Then suddenly, a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them, and they all died! Only I have survived like this!” It was like a bolt from the blue when he heard that his sons and daughters were all dead at the same time. Job flopped down to the ground. He was unable to control the bitter pain in his heart. He did not understand why those disasters came to him all at once. In the midst of devastation, he made himself stand up in the will. He tore his robe and shaved his head. Then, he bowed down to worship the Lord and said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin, nor did he blame God.
After that, Job could not do anything. All he could do was just sit idly. The pain of losing his children was indescribable. Then one day, something different happened. He got sores on his body. He felt itchy throughout his body, and the sores began to swell up. They grew bigger and broader. Job scratched them with his hands, but the itch did not disappear, and pus oozed out of them. They had spread out from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. The sores had formed over the other sores, so that Job’s appearance was unrecognizable. He took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it. Looking at Job, his wife felt that his situation was terrible and he had no reason to live anymore. So, she said to him, “Do you still want to hold on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job replied, “You are a foolish woman. How much blessing has God given us so far? Shall not we accept trouble from God?” Job had not sinned in what he said, because he still trusted the Lord.
Job’s three friends heard about all the troubles and came to comfort him. When they saw Job directly, however, they were speechless at Job’s unrecognizable form. They began to weep aloud and sat on the ground with Job. No one said a word to him. They realized how severe his suffering was. They were just looking at Job. They spent seven days that way.
Job finally began to curse his own birthday. He said that an unborn life would be more blessed. On the other hand, he could not understand why such severe hardship suddenly came upon him, who had always been faithful to God. Job prayed to God and asked, “Why am I suffering this pain? The Lord knows how faithful I have been to You. Oh, my Lord, tell me why this trial has overthrown me!” He asked God again and again. However, he could not realize why, although he asked God again and again.
It was an utmost and bitter grief for Job to lose his children. To make matters worse, the sores surrounding his whole body were oppressing him. Job begged God to heal him day and night. However, things did not get better at all. He felt like God did not listen to him. He said to himself, “Has the Lord forsaken me? I have not sinned enough to suffer this hardship. Why has it come to me? While others were enjoying the pleasures of the world, I feared God and enjoyed His word. I obeyed Him all the time. I have also been righteous and helped the poor around me. The Lord had given me blessings because of my good deeds. But now why has this suffering come upon me suddenly? Has my Lord left me?” All the good memories gradually moved away.
Even though his previous blessings were fading, and he was still in the endless maze, there was one thing Job was sure of: “The Lord is always faithful.” He said to himself, “Even though I do not understand the reason for all these things right now, even if He seems not to answer me while I am crying out, even though I cannot figure out all these providences, God, who was always with me, is still leading me in a good way and finally will pay me back a good thing!” Job was convinced that the Lord would eventually lead him to victory, although he did not know where the end of the suffering was yet. After all these thoughts, Job confessed, “He knows the way I take. When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job believed that all this would eventually come to an end, and then he would get better. His confession was great.
Even though he had cursed himself during the extreme suffering and showed off his righteousness, he never blamed God. Above all, he believed to the end that God was faithful. One of the reasons Job could endure so much was that Job always read the Word of God and put its lessons in his heart. The words made Job wise, strengthened his faith, became a force to endure in extreme pain, and eventually became a source of the hope that he would win.
Job sincerely trusted God, and God also trusted Job. When the Lord’s time was ripe and Job was more refined after all, He restored his body and circumstances. God made him prosperous again and gave Job twice as much as he had before. Also, Job’s relationship with everyone who had known him had recovered. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble. The Lord blessed him so much that Job could have twice as much livestock as before. He had seven sons and three daughters again. Job had recovered from the previous bitter pain, and he became as pure gold, as he said.
His daughters were so beautiful that there were no such women anywhere in the world. Job had lived 140 years after all his troubles so that he could see his children to the fourth generation. Finally, he returned to the hands of God in peace.