So the first thing you're probably wondering about, is the title of this post. I want to make it absolutely clear that this is not a compliment to myself. Job was a great man of faith, no one can dispute, but he is also the poster child of just how man reacts to pain and trial. When we think of Job we often think about the man who said "the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). Maybe it's just my own interpretation of the book of Job, and maybe I'm way off, but Job is not always the most trusting of individuals. While it is true that he never cursed God, or forsook his integrity, even in the face of the most intense sorrow and physical pain, Job still questions God's goodness, the value of living a righteous life, and asserts his own righteousness in a way that borders on arrogant.
"Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, He would prove me perverse. I am blameless; I regard not myself; I loathe my life. It is all one; therefore I say, He destroys both the blameless and the wicked. When disaster brings sudden death, He mocks at the calamity of the innocent. The earth is given into the hand of the wicked" (Job 9:21-24)
"This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before Him" (Job 13:16)
This is perhaps what makes the book of Job so accessible; Job is every man (or in my case woman). Job's reaction to his troubles are typical of human behaviour. In the beginning Job is very accepting, and praises God anyway, but when his pain starts to increase, his wife abandons him, and his friends condemn him, he begins to question God's goodness, and justice. What point is there to a holy life when God is going to smite me anyway? What is this all for? Is God playing a game with me? What is the point in praying? He obviously isn't listening to me anyway. These are very natural under the circumstances, but it does not make them right. This is why we can learn so much from Job himself.
Now I don't claim to be under the same kind of affliction that Job was under. This however, is more condemning because next to Job, I hardly have reason to question God. Some people say that Christians tend to turn to God only when we need Him, and that this shouldn't be; we should be always seeking His guidance and companionship (which is true). But this doesn't tend to be my reaction. When times are good, I am more than happy to read my Bible, to pray for others, to be active in my service to God, but when times are bad for me, all I seem to want to do is run from God, to give up trying to serve Him, to neglect my Bible, to avoid praying.
When it comes down to it; it is arrogance that causes me to react this way. Why is God letting this happen to me? What have I done to deserve this? Why is this happening now? Why isn't God doing something? These are arrogant questions that emerge from a false sense of self. I somehow get it into my head that I am above being challenged; that I don't deserve it. But when we really think about it; what would happen if we got exactly what we deserved in life? The fact is if God was to act on this none of us would be here. Elihu says it best (why when studying this book do we always overlook poor Elihu? He says such great stuff, and was the only one of Job's friends that was not rebuked by God) when he says;
"then man prays to God, and He accepts him: He sees his face with a shout of joy, and He restores to man His righteousness. He sings before men and says 'I have sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light' Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life" (Job 33:26-3)
God has spared me from what I really deserve (Romans 6:23), but it is so easy to forget that, especially in our culture. We view ourselves as entitled to so many things, including God's grace, and we forget the fact that the very definition of mercy is to withhold what is deserved, and grace is to give us what we don't deserve. Yet when trials come in my life I am too quick to doubt God's love for me. Maybe this is why friends shun and betray us, when circumstances don't work out the way we wanted them to, and our hearts ache from unkind words- so that we might turn to God, whose love never fails and whose purpose is always right for us.
It is natural for me to behave like Job (in the fact that we are both human) but as long as I learn from my trails as Job eventually does, then my troubles will never fail to teach me and bring me closer to my Lord and Saviour.