What’s the use of enduring things for the sake of Christ when people all around us take the low road and laugh all the way to the bank?
Is the price we pay worth it? From the strictly spiritual perspective, we say, yes, of course. For instance, after all of Job’s sufferings, he was granted a superior revelation of God. Still, somewhere deep inside we wonder if he could’ve gotten there more cheaply. It’s easy to consider spiritual people naïve in that sense, but James writes,
“Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (5:11).
Let’s not sprinkle sugar on the situation. The fact is, Job had been broken under the Lord’s mighty hand. In chapter 40:4, he says to God, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.”
The “perfect man,” the guy who had it all figured out, finally admits he’s nothing. Some folks never stop running their mouths until after death. That’s a bad place to learn humility. But Job is learning it here ahead of time.
For the rest of this last chapter, the benefits of his uncomfortable classroom pan out.
First, God bequeathed to Job knowledge of an uncommon sort:
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted… ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (42:2).
This was wonderful knowledge. God had asked the man questions about things like snow, goats, and thunder, and he hadn’t known the answers to them. How then was Job supposed to divine the reason for all the invisible things, like why God allows this and forbids that? Why He takes three weeks rather than three hours? Why three years rather than three weeks? Or three decades rather than three years?
Job was seeing the tip of a mighty iceberg. Although he still couldn’t fathom what was below the surface, the little he had seen portended depths he had no right to question.
Nor was this some type of hand-me-down knowledge. Job said to God, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you” (42:5). Like many of us, everything Job had learned about God was from second-hand sources. But now he was seeing, experiencing for himself. The knowledge was so excellent, it humbled him. Job said, “I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).
The second benefit of God’s dealing with him was that God vindicated Job in front of his hostile friends, calling him “My servant.” After long seasons of trial, the Lord encourages us by validating the authenticity of our faithfulness:
After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (v. 7).
Third, God made Job’s service powerfully effective. Even if those other men had offered one thousand burnt offerings, it would not have worked for them unless Job had prayed for them. Effective ministry is always the outcome of divine brokenness:
8 Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the LORD had told them, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.
Fourth, God restored to Job more than he had lost. We can’t lose more than God can give. Whether in this age or the next, God is a rewarder, not a taker:
10 And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. 12 And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.
Fifth, God honored Job, and inspired others to respect him as well. God does not deal in cheap popularity, but He delights in bestowing honor upon his faithful servants:
11 Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.
Sixth, God granted Job greater fruitfulness than before—this time with a group of children who were celebrated throughout the land. In principle, the deeper our dealing with God, the greater the quality of our spiritual offspring:
13 He had also seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. 15 And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers”
Seventh, God gave Job abundant life. The fullest realization of that life is of course, not in this age but the next. Still, it is the mission of Christ that even now we would “have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). As believers in Jesus, we live abundantly whenever we apprehend a broadening stream of spiritual life flowing into us, through us, and out of us:
16 And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man, and full of days.
I doubt Job died thinking he had been ripped off or victimized. He probably didn’t envy his religious friends, either—folks who had always seemed to skate on the surface of life.
The high road was costly, but it was blessed.