“And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).
The book of Job gives great insight into various lessons learned in the midst of suffering. Job was a great man at the beginning of the book only to become a greater one at the end. The crucible of suffering brought some valuable lessons to his heart and mind. Consider three.
The Answers are not with Men. Job’s wife (cf. Job 2:9) and his three friends (cf. Job 2:11ff) said things that were extremely hurtful and incorrect. Job said to his wife, “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:10). Job knew that God was righteous in all His ways, he simply did not understand why things were happening to him like they did (cf. Job 3:11ff). Job’s three friends went about to draw a right conclusion to Job’s problems but were grossly wrong in their application of basic truths. Job said to them, “Lo, mine eyes hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it. What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you. Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God. But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value” (Job 13:1-4). His friends’ diagnosis of the problem was wrong and therefore their conclusions were wrong.
The Almighty is Still in Control. Suffering can easily cause mankind to show his weaknesses. Regardless, there are no weaknesses with God. God is in complete control of both heaven and earth (cf. Job 1 and 2). When the Lord spoke to Job out of the whirlwind (cf. Job 38:1ff), there was presented a series of things that only God can do. All of creation is under the abiding control of God and dependent upon all His goodness. Job states in the middle of the revelation from God, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5). The insight to the infinite wisdom of God brought Job to the place where the sovereign control of God was not challenged. Suffering tends to draw humble men closer unto God. Those who are rebellious and self-willed face their own calamity.
The Acceptance of God is in Repentance. Job’s last words to the Lord are stated thusly, “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. . . . Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:2-3, 6). The Lord commended Job’s words to his three friends and reproved them for their lack of repentance (cf. Job 42:7-8). Job prayed for his friends after their sacrifices were offered and acceptance was extended even to them. They did not suffer like Job had suffered but their sin was brought to their minds. Repentance is unto salvation (cf. 2 Cor. 7:10). It is true strength in suffering to see one’s self and make the proper changes to be blessed.