Gary Zimak is the author of several books, including A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible, From Fear To Faith, Stop Worrying & Start Living and Give Up Worry For Lent. He is a frequent speaker at parishes and conferences across the country and is recognized as the leading Catholic speaker on the topic of overcoming anxiety. In addition, Gary is a regular guest on EWTN TV & Radio, the host of The Gary Zimak Show podcast on Breadbox Media and was the creator and host of Spirit In The Morning which aired on Holy Spirit Radio in Philadelphia from 2016-2018. For more information, visit his website FollowingTheTruth.com.
“I loathe my life!” (Job 10:1)
Ouch! We all have bad days from time to time, but most of us won’t even come close to what Job was experiencing when he uttered those painful words. In case you’re not familiar with his story, Job was a good man who was afflicted with an unimaginable amount of suffering. Because of this, the Book of Job is not one of the places most people would look for a “pick me up.” You may be surprised to hear this, but I find Job’s story to be very encouraging. In fact, reading it got me through one of the darkest periods in my life. With that in mind, here are 10 lessons on suffering from the Book of Job.
1. We Will Be Tempted
“You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock are spread over the land. But now put forth your hand and touch anything that he has, and surely he will blaspheme you to your face.” (Job 1:10-11)
Satan believed that Job was righteous because he had many blessings. In other words, it’s easy to love God when you’re cruising through life with no problems. Upon hearing Satan’s theory, God granted him power over Job and the trials began to flow. Job was tempted to lash out at the Lord, but he resisted. Don’t be surprised when you too are tempted, especially in the midst of suffering. Pray for the grace to resist.
2. Everything We Have Is A Gift From God
After being informed that his sons and daughters perished in a great storm, Job tore his cloak and cut off his hair. Casting himself prostrate on the ground, the grief-stricken father responded with the following words:
Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall go back again. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!”(Job 1:21)
Recognizing that everything in life is a gift from God, Job passed the first test with flying colors. Don’t get too attached to material possessions or favorable circumstances. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Learning to accept this will bring you much peace.
3. God Allows Suffering
Satan’s next plot (Job 2:7) was to afflict Job with severe boils from the “soles of his feet to the crown of his head.” If that wasn’t bad enough, his wife was not exactly supportive. Implying that these misfortunes were a punishment for some past wrongdoing, she urged her husband to “curse God and die”! Job’s response?
“We accept good things from God; and should we not accept evil?” (Job 2:10)
Amazingly, Job didn’t question God’s goodness or say anything sinful. Instead, he accepted the fact that God sometimes allows us to suffer. If suffering enters your life, trust that it can help you in some way.
4. It’s Okay to Cry Out to God
Why did I not perish at birth, come forth from the womb and expire? (Job 3:11)
It’s perfectly acceptable to cry out to the Lord when you are suffering. The Book of Psalms is filled with many such cries. Go ahead and tell him what’s on your mind. He can take it!
5. Sometimes We Are Wrong
“Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.” (Job 7:7)
It might seem like our suffering will never end, but only God knows what will happen. In this case, Job was wrong. He would indeed see happiness again. Feelings are not facts. You may feel hopeless, but that doesn’t make it true.
6. God Cares For His Creatures
“Your hands have formed me and fashioned me; will you then turn and destroy me?” (Job 10:8)
At this point, Job is wallowing in self-pity. He may not realize it, but he makes an important point. It would make no sense for God to create us and not provide for our needs. He takes care of the birds (Matthew 6:26) and they aren’t even created in his image and likeness. God will not abandon us.
7. Life Isn’t Fair
“Why do the wicked survive, grow old, become mighty in power?” (Job 21:7)
He’s right. Sometimes life isn’t fair. One look at a crucifix will confirm it. The best thing to do is accept it and remember that there’s a bigger picture. This life is not all there is.
8. Look to the Past
“Oh, that I were as in the months past! As in the days when God watched over me.” (Job 29:2)
God is watching over Job, even though he doesn’t realize it. When you hit a rough stretch, look back and remember all of the difficult situations the Lord got you through. Doing so will restore your hope and remind you that God is still watching over you.
9. Sometimes God is Silent
“I cry to you, but you do not answer me.” (Job 30:20)
For the first 37 chapters of this book, Job poured out his heart and God said nothing. Sometimes the Lord is silent. Don’t stop speaking to him. He eventually answered Job and will answer you too… when the time is right.
10. God is God and I Am Not!
“Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4)
As the Creator of the universe, God really does know best. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Job eventually learned this lesson and so should we.
In the end, the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before the trials. Even though life can be difficult, there is a happy ending awaiting us. It may not occur in this life, but will happen in the next life if you don’t give up. Take a page from the Book of Job and keep crying out to the Lord. He will not desert you!
Thus the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than the earlier ones. (Job 42:12)