Learning from Grief, Listening to Job

No doubt, you’re familiar with the story of Job. But have you considered that, just like Job, our response to tragedy and difficulty reveals our hearts?

Job’s crisis was completely unexpected and utterly incomprehensible.  This blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil lost everything; every sheep, camel, ox, and donkey that he owned.  A total of 11,500 animals died along with the servants who kept them.  And as if the loss of these possessions and people were not enough, Job’s seven sons and three daughters died when a mighty windstorm destroyed the house they were in.  All of these events occurred within the span of a single day.  The emotional misery and grief was compounded as Job was stricken with boils from head to toe and his only remaining family member, his wife, urged him to curse God and die. No matter what our circumstances, Job’s tragedy reminds us of a few unshakable truths.

Our words and actions reveal our hearts.

In a crisis, a person’s response is significant. Job’s response was striking.  In the midst of a grief that brought him to his knees, Job worshipped.  This act reveals a heart that was as God described it, upright and God-fearing.  Job’s words confirmed his deeds when he spoke to his wife saying, “shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”  (Job 2:10)

Worship in the midst of crisis is possible.

When Job’s friends came to comfort him they started out well, simply sitting with him in silence for seven days and night because “they saw that his grief was very great.” (Job 2:13)  Unfortunately, their silence ended and instead of giving true comfort and hope, they began to speak their thoughts.  When God describes their error, He says that they did not speak about Him rightly. (Job 42:7)

Words spoken to fill the void of grief are better left unsaid.  But God’s Words spoken by His people bring His perspective to every situation.

In the final chapters of the book, God mentions two issues that suffering had uncovered in Job’s heart.  As he sat and listened to his friends and their counsel, Job’s response revealed  sinful attitudes that were in his own heart.

“I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me;
Let me know why You contend with me.
‘Is it right for You indeed to oppress,
To reject the labor of Your hands,
And to look favorably on the schemes of the wicked? (
Job 10:2-3)

The Bible reveals that Job was guilty of contending with and rebuking God (Job 40:2).   This was not an issue that God would overlook.  In His correction, God revealed tremendous truth about Himself and Job responded to this confrontation with brokenness and repentance.

Then Job answered the Lord and said,

“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 declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:1-6)

Grief is often a crucible in which God reveals the issues of our sinful hearts. Repentance is the only proper response.

When God brought this trial to its conclusion, He poured out His blessing on Job, doubling his livestock and granting him seven more sons and three more daughters.  “After this, Job lived one hundred and forty years and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations.  So Job died, old and full of days.”  (Job 42:16)

God’s power to redeem circumstances is unlimited.  Even suffering yields to him and does His bidding.

We who read about Job in Scripture know something Job never knew. The battle he was fighting was a spiritual one, for Satan was determined to see Job’s faith fail.  Because God granted permission, the suffering came.  This crisis of suffering was truly undeserved, but yielded profound results: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5). If at the end of sorrow and grief, we find a new intimacy with God, how can we not be grateful for the journey that brought us to Him?

Ready to go deeper? Download Cheryl’s Lessons from Job.