Title: GETTING A GRIP ON PATIENCE, ANXIETY AND ACCEPTING OTHER’S DIFFERENCES
Text: Book of Job
One of life’s biggest challenges is getting along with others who are different. In this hodge-podge are different personalities, different family backgrounds, different nationalities, different preferences, different levels of maturity, and different events of the day that affect them when we finally encounter them…even tragedies and shocking discoveries. Health, finances, low self-esteem and career goals are in this hodge-podge. You might as well throw into this pot the fact that some face spiritual battles, some are saved and some are not. What you have is a catch-all stew that tastes good to no one. This brews a breeding ground of differences that produces anxiety…and the need for patience is an understatement. It’s enough to make you fall on your knees and say, “Why me, Lord?”
Falling on your knees is the right response, but asking that question is not. A bigger perspective is needed.
Consider Job. The Book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible. And the problems he encountered are as old as mankind. Praise the Lord that God’s perspective on his trials and tribulations is as old as mankind as well. The New Testament book of James records, “You have heard of the patience of Job.” (Ja. 5:11) Well it is just as essential today that we tap into this man’s patience and get God’s perspective.
Many people have heard about Job and his trials; but not many people understand what those trials were all about and what God was trying to accomplish. Job suffered as he did so that God’s people today might learn from his experiences how to be patient and endure to the end.
My prayer for this study is that you will learn to be patient in your own trials, and you will learn how to help others in their trials. Your world is filled with people who need encouragement, and God may be preparing you for just that ministry.
1. According to Job 1:1, what can you glean that gives you an indication of Job’s character? (Perfect & upright. He was not sinless, but he was complete & mature in character & straight in conduct.)
Insight: The word “perfect” is related to “integrity,” which was an essential part of Job’s character. Job 2:3, 9; 27:5; 31:6 To have integrity is to be without hypocrisy.
2. According to this verse, what was the foundation for Job’s character? (He feared God and shunned evil.) Job 28:28
Insight: To fear the Lord means to respect who He is, what He says, and what He does. It is not the cringing fear of a slave before his master, but the loving reverence of a child before their father…a respect that leads to obedience.
Insight: When you fear God, you fear nothing else. But if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.
3. What do you gather from Job 1:2-5 as to how Job’s family life was? (They must have enjoyed each other’s company as they met frequently to celebrate their birthdays. The fact that their father offered a special sacrifice after each birthday shows that Job was a god-fearing man and wanted to be sure his family was right with God.)
4. What do you learn about how Job handled wealth in these verses? Job 1:3, 21; 4:1-4; 29:12-17 (Wealth in their day was measured by one’s land, animals & servants; he had all 3 in abundance. But it did not turn him away from God. He acknowledged that the Lord gave this wealth to him. & he used it for the good of others.)
5. In one day, Job was stripped of his wealth and his family. One after another, four frightened messengers reported that it was all gone (Job 1:6-19). Have you been able to keep you balance when disaster suddenly strikes? Eccl. 9:12 What do you suggest from your own circumstances for someone new going through it?
Insight: Job knew what had happened, but he did not know why it happened; and that is the crux of the matter. The author of the Book of Job allows us to visit the throne room of heaven and hear God and Satan speak. We know who caused the destruction and why he was allowed to do it.
If you were Job and you didn’t know these details, how do you think you would react? What role does patience hold here?
6. Because we are privy to why this happened, what are some important insights to glean from this story?
Insight: We need to keep the perspective that God is sovereign in all things. He is still on the throne and Satan can do nothing to God’s people without His permission. We also need to realize Satan has access to God’s throne to accuse the brethren. Job 1:7; 1 Pet. 5:8 We also need to note that God found no fault with Job, but Satan did. The characters in this courtroom gave different verdicts. When spiritual warfare strikes our household, we need to keep the perspective that God views us as “Not guilty!” Job 42:7; Zech. 3:1-2; Rev. 12:10
7. Because God had pronounced Job “blameless” (Job 1:8), Satan’s attack spread from Job to someone else. Who?
Insight: Satan’s accusation against Job was really an attack on God. “The only reason Job fears You is because You protect & prosper him.” In essence, Satan was saying God has to pay people to worship him. This did not set right with God, and he was willing to let Satan have his limited way with Job to prove Satan wrong. At a terrible price, Job was vindicating God’s holiness throughout these trials. Eph. 6:12 Job’s life was a battlefield where there was a spiritual battle to decide the question, “Is Jehovah worthy of man’s worship?”
8. For 33 chapters there is an unrelenting casting of accusations against Job’s character by his friends and his wife. They concluded that all this was happening because he had sinned and that God was chastening Job. How do you hold a steady course when there is repeated attack upon your character and you know you are innocent?
Insight: You cling to the truth! Job was not going to invent some sin in his life so that he could then repent and earn the blessing of God. To do that would be to play right into the hands of the accuser! Instead, Job held fast to his integrity and blessed God even more, even though he did not understand what God was doing. What a defeat for the prince of darkness!
Insight: Satan can touch God’s people only with His permission and God uses it for their good and His glory. When you are obedient, yet find yourself in a severe trial, remind yourself that nothing can come to your life that is outside God’s will. Ps. 8:1-2
9. What catches your eye about Job’s integrity in Job 1:20-22? (Job walked by faith through it all.)
Insight: Job looked back to his birth…everything Job had come from God, and he can take it away. Then he looked ahead to his death…he would leave this earth just as naked as he had arrived. And then he looked up and uttered a statement of faith…blessed be the name of the Lord.
10. Satan does not give up easily. He returned to God’s throne to accuse Job again. This time he bet God that Job would curse his name if he took away his health. We get the impression that God is confident His servant will not fail the test. We don’t know what the disease was, but the symptoms were terrible: severe itching (2:8), insomnia (7:4), running sores & scabs (7:5), nightmares (7:13-14), bad breath (19:17), weight loss (19:20), chills and fever (21:6), diarrhea (30:27), and blackened skin (30:30). Do all physical afflictions come from Satan? (No. Sometimes it is the natural result of aging or carelessness on our part; or the environment around us.. But even then Satan knows how to use our folly to further his cause.)
11. Job’s pain caused him withdraw from people and he went to the city garbage heap and sat on the ashes. Job 2:8 So repulsive was Job to sight that people deserted him. Job 19:13-20 What happens to perspective when either you withdraw from people or they withdraw from you? How important is perspective during affliction?
Insight: Not every perspective is the correct one either. Job’s friends had the wrong perspective on his circumstances. At times like this it’s important to listen to perspective with wisdom. Job 19:1-3
12. How did Satan use Job’s wife? (She put the temptation before Job to curse God and die, and the temptation is stronger because he loved her so much. Not every advice from our spouse should be listened to; it too needs to be discerned with wisdom.)
13. Though Job’s wife gave wrong advice, in all fairness we need to look at her situation from her point of view. What was she feeling at this point?
Insight: No doubt she was experiencing extreme grief and anger; she had lost all ten children in one day. The family wealth was gone and she was no longer the “leading lady” in the land. Her husband now sat at the city garbage dump suffering from a terrible disease. What did she have left? Rather than watch her husband waste away in pain and shame, she gave in to Satan’s prompting to encourage her husband to curse God and die.
14. In times of severe difficulty, which is the more important question?...”How do I get out of this?” or “What can I get out of this?”
Insight: When life is difficult it’s easy to give up, but giving up is to play right into Satan’s hands. You can be so far down in the pit that you feel as though God has abandoned you. This is when you need to reach deep within and live by faith. Faith living is not wrestling with the circumstances. It is obeying God in spite of feelings, circumstances or consequences, knowing that He is working out His perfect plan in His way and in His time.
15. What price is there to pay in being a true comforter? 1 Cor. 1:3-11
16. At the end of Job’ cycle of pain and hardship, how did Job’s perspective change according to Job 42:1-6?
Insight: Job humbled himself before the Lord, acknowledging His power and justice in His ways. He admitted his words had been wrong and had spoken things he didn’t understand. He withdrew his accusations that God was unjust and not treating him fairly. He realized that whatever God does is right and man’s role is to accept it by faith.
17. How did God feel towards Job’s friends for their wrong counsel according to Job 42:7-9?
Insight: Notice the standing in God’s eyes changed towards Job’s friends when Job interceded for them (42:8). This is the finest hour of Job’s integrity…he interceded for friends that were less than comforting when he needed them the most. Such intercession catches the eye of God and blessings fall from Heaven because of it.
Job’s suffering ended and he was blessed more in his latter days than his beginning. Not every trial will end with all problems solved, all hard feelings forgiven and everyone lives happily ever after. From God’s point of view, Job’s comfort was insignificant in comparison with the heavenly issues at stake. The real battle ended when Job refused to give up on God, thus causing Satan to lose the wager. After the tough victory, God hastened to shower good gifts on Job. Something far more important than Job’s happiness was at sake here. Through it all Job’s greatest blessing was knowing God better and understanding His working in a deeper way. Heb. 12:11
When our patience in God and endurance act in fellowship with each other, we will emerge from the fire as refined gold and receive the crown of life. We need to remember that God always writes the last chapter…and that makes it worth it all.