In my personal devotions, I’ve been reading through the book of Job. It’s one of my favorites, though most people I’ve talked to feel less enthusiastic. A man smote by Satan (with God’s permission), left naked, diseased, and surrounded by character-jabbing friends? Who would want to read that? Sure, Job is restored in the end. But the fact that he was put through so much . . . Is Job really an encouragement to any of us?
I get the sentiment. Really, I do. But Job seems to me to have a resoundingly positive message. We just don’t see it on first glance. And here’s the message: there’s only one thing you can have forever. Doesn’t sound so positive, does it? Let me lay out why I think that message is so encouraging and pairs so well with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- The book of Job makes it plain that earthly things will not last, and if you put all of your hope, joy, and fulfillment in things that don’t last, you’re going to be disappointed. We know this, but we seldom live as if it’s true. Tangible things are easier to treasure. A prayer-based relationship with an invisible God? That’s harder. But that’s what need to strive for every day: speaking to God and hearing his voice in Scripture. Why? Because the one thing you can have forever, the one thing that will last, is God himself.
- The book of Job says, “The worst of all things can happen to you . . . and you’ll still be okay.” In fact, you will be carved out more deeply and thus filled with even more gratitude. Job’s grief is raw and real. He life goes from being a beautiful testament of peace to a burning train wreck of pain. But he emerges from it all with a deeper well for his soul. He knows more of pain and loss, and so he can value his good things (family, possessions, health) with the right perspective: knowing that they are transient gifts from a God with whom he will dwell for eternity.
- The book of Job proclaims Christ on every page. Job seemed to have everything before he was afflicted by Satan, and then he lost it. But you know who really has everything? God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And then, in the greatest act of love the world could ever know, the Son of God, through whom all things were made and for whom all things exist (Col. 1:16), lost everything for our sake. But unlike Job, the incarnate Son of God didn’t get to keep his life. He lost that, too. But the power of the gospel is that he took his life back up again and now sits at the right hand of his Father (John 10:18; Col. 3:1).
I know not many of us are excited to read the book of Job, but maybe that’s saying something about what we truly value, deep in the recesses of our own souls. If you’re a materialist, the book of Job is horrifying. If you love family above all things, the book of Job is a nightmare. If friendship is your greatest love, the book of Job is disheartening beyond comparison. But if you love God more than anything, the book of Job is a clear reminder: there’s only one thing you can have forever, and that’s God himself.