When it comes to pressing on and pushing through life’s difficulties, one of the greatest stories of perseverance in the Old Testament is the story of Job. He was a righteous man who loved God and his family. He was wise, wealthy and respected in his community. The Bible describes Job as “blameless and upright” and as “the greatest man among all the people of the East.”
Then Job’s life took a dramatic twist. His children died in a catastrophe. Fire fell from heaven and killed his livestock. Raiding parties stole his possessions. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, Job contracted a skin disease.Talk about trials and hardships — Job’s life went from the highest of heights to the lowest of lows. Remarkably, he remained faithful to God. Job was not swayed by his wife or friends who told him to curse God. Instead, he maintained his integrity and refused to cave under pressure. Against all odds, Job stood firm, pressed on and persevered through the tremendous difficulties that battered his life.
There are many aspects of Job’s life, but there are four specific components that we can pull away from his account. I believe they can be a helpful resource for us, especially when the storms of life are ferocious. Consider these four things next time life seems hard:
1. Don’t blame God. Job didn’t blame God. In fact, Job responded in worship — not an accusation. The Bible says,
Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away — may the name of the Lord be praised.”
Often when bad things happen to good people, there’s a tendency to point the finger at God and say, “How could he allow such a thing like this to happen.” The mistake in this line of reasoning is that this accusation has more to do with the inherent brokenness of humankind (that came about as result of the fall of humankind) than it does about God or who he is. Bad things happen in the world because the world is a broken place. God’s primary motivation is not to run around and put out fires, his heart longs for humankind to be reconciled unto himself through Jesus Christ. In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis, who watched his wife die of cancer, put it like this:
But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
Job’s response was spot on — to worship God was the correct posture and the exact right thing to do.
2. Keep Calm. Job kept calm and refused to allow his emotions to dictate how he felt and he made the choice to relate to God authentically. Often when we are in the midst of a struggle, it’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us. Next time a hardship hits, let’s resolve to keep calm and carry on by looking to God. Composure in the midst of a storm is a key that will help us navigate through the hardship and into safety.
3. Be F.A.T — flexible, adaptable and teachable. Job remained F.A.T through it all. In other words, Job cooperated as God polished his character through suffering. Job was like clay in the hands of the Master Potter. When a person remains F.A.T in hardships they are actually enhancing their ability to persevere. This, in turn, means God is producing something beautiful in the inner man and woman called character. Character is what counts in God’s eyes and character is what counts in the midst of trials. Paul said that “perseverance develops character” and Job knew the worth character, because in the midst of his hardships he said, “But he [God] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
4. Rely on God. Job relied on God and counted on His compassion and mercy. Job held to an inner conviction that God was able to bring good out of the bad circumstances. All things worked together for the good of Job because he maintained his faith in God. His life ended in great victory. Once the storm passed, Job experienced the outpouring of God’s richest blessings. The epilogue of the book of Job records that “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” Job ended up living a long full life with much abundance, but even greater than the abundance he enjoyed was the deep revelation Job received about who God is even in the midst of life’s hardships.