The Endurance of Job


If I am a prayer warrior, I am a warrior following the model of Job. James writes, “Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

I have heard of the endurance of Job. I’ve also read the book of Job, more than once. I like this book. My friend Oscar, a Nicaraguan pastor, asked me which were my favorite books of the Bible. Oscar speaks only Spanish and my Spanish is an imposition on the graciousness of the Nicaraguans, so when I told him that my favorite in the Old Testament is Job, he decided he must not have understood me. So I mispronounced it three or four more times until he stopped asking.

Job did endure more than I could, or would ever hope to try. In fact, I am grateful to have survived a fraction of what Job did with my faith intact and I pray that God will protect me from ever going through anything like that again.  But Job did not endure silently; he endured loudly.

At the end of the second chapter of the book of Job, Job’s wife says, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die!” Job refuses. “You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Starting in chapter three and running through chapter thirty-one, Job “opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.”

I could see how Job’s response to his wife, if not exactly gentle, would count as an example of endurance. But I thank God for these next twenty-nine chapters. Because I have hope that I, too, will be an example of endurance. Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Psalm 111:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.” Job learns the fear of the Lord because God answers Job. “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind…” Job listens and is humbled. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

But the key I hold onto is that Job got to hear from God because he wouldn’t shut up. Job’s “friends” kept telling him, “You’re a sinner. Look at you! Could it be more obvious? Just repent already.” Job was a sinner, but he wasn’t suffering as a punishment for his sin. He knew that. He just didn’t know who God was yet. He knew about God–”I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear”–but he hadn’t known God—“but now my eyes see you.” Job responds much like Peter will, when Peter catches on to who Jesus might be. “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

Job got there by his endurance. He endured boors and accusers who masqueraded as friends. He endured miserable suffering and grief. His greatest endurance was to keep shouting at the sky until he got an answer. God didn’t justify himself to Job; once Job’s eyes had seen God, Job wasn’t asking for that anymore. He had what he wanted.

He got what he came for.  So I’ll keep shouting, too.

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