On May 9, the church remembers Job. It’s difficult to place Job’s life and times historically. Not much detail is given in the book that would tell us when or where he lived. However, in all probability, the land of Uz, Job’s home, (Job 1:1) was somewhere in the Transjordan region (modern-day Syria and Jordan). Since his story was already well-known at the time of the prophets (see Ezek. 14:14), Job probably lived at the time of the patriarchs, the very first worshippers of God.
Job is a saint for Christians of all times because Job is remembered for his patient endurance. If you have a minute, read the first two chapters of Job for the introduction to Job’s story. Job’s name is mentioned in a heavenly conversation between God and Satan as an example of a man who is truly faithful to God. Satan counters by explaining that Job has only been faithful to God because God has protected him and all his family and possessions. Satan contends that if God were to allow misfortune to befall Job, Job would fall away in an instant. Satan is given authority by God to bring calamity upon Job, and he does. In a single day, Job’s ten children die and all of his wealth is lost. Still, Job remains faithful in praising God: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
In a second heavenly conversation, Satan argues that God is still protecting Job too much. If God allowed Satan to inflict bodily harm on Job, than surely he would become faithless. God consents to Satan’s plan to afflict Job’s body, but he will not allow Satan to kill him. Yet still, Job remains faithful in his praise of God, even when his wife tells him to curse God and die.
The majority of the book of Job is a conversation between Job and his three friends. They arrive to comfort him, but spend the majority of their time urging Job to repent of whatever secret sin he has committed that has caused God to allow these great disasters to fall on him. To Job’s friends, suffering is unthinkable except as a punishment for some offense.
Yet, Job is innocent. And he maintains that he is innocent despite the protests of his friends. His sufferings are not the punishment of the Lord for any sin he has committed, known or secret. Instead, his sufferings are simply sufferings. Job perceives that their purpose is simply not for him to know. Rather, he has full confidence that God will show mercy to him, even though at the moment he can only perceive the evil of his present circumstances.
That mercy came ultimately in our Lord Jesus, whom Job foresaw as the “Redeemer” who would live and raise him up from the dead. He confesses in Job 19, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.”
At the end of the book, God answers the objections of Job’s friends and vindicates Job. Job prays for his friends and God shows mercy on them too. And finally, in his great mercy, God restores the children and the wealth of his servant Job.
Job is the perfect example of patient endurance for us. When we look at Job, we see how to patiently endure suffering while looking to our God our redeemer and savior.