Duration: 365 days
Job’s spectacular turnaround isn’t just a reward for righteousness but also a joyous act of God’s generosity. The fact that God owes us nothing has never deterred him from giving us everything, freely and graciously (cf. 2Co 9:7). Notice that Job’s restoration comes only after he forgives his friends and prays for them. As Jesus says, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Lk 6:37–38).
Pastor and author Gordon MacDonald notes that in
the first forty chapters of the book of Job, this man faced a sample of nearly every imaginable kind of suffering. On a few occasions he appeared to bend under the weight of the stress, but he never broke. Given every reason to doubt himself and to revise his view of God, he stayed the course.
Every person who desires to live generously will want to acquaint himself with the journey of Job. His is a message from ancient times of a man with a soul that was bigger than the circumstances. Satan certainly got his answer: Job feared God in comfortable times and in chaotic times. No contest!
As this amazing book concludes, a couple of points stand out as worth pondering. Notice that God never told Job why all this was happening to him … All of Job’s anguish finds its roots in a strange conversation in which Job’s character was impugned. One would like to hear God say to Job, “Now that this is all over, let me tell you what it was all about.” But Job was left, apparently, to live out his days continuing to trust in God …
More significantly, Job regained his prosperity … (see Job 42:10). What does this tell us? First, that prosperity is not always a coincidence nor merely the result of hard work. In this case at least, God showered prosperity upon a man because the man had demonstrated his faithfulness.
Second, the prosperity came not simply because Job had endured the suffering but because he prayed for his friends … Job had no reason to pray grace upon these “friends” of his. They’d done little more than add to his misery during his dark days. Still Job, through his prayer, wished for their best and prayed that God would act kindly toward them …
Two important lessons to keep in mind: First, everything we own may be attributed to Providence as much as to hard work; remember, there are others who work hard without gaining material prosperity. Second, we must never forget that a grace-filled heart does more to trigger God’s kindness than all the more visible things a person can do.
THINK ABOUT IT
- How do you think this story would have ended had Job not prayed for his friends?
- How is the story of Job tied not just to the topic of suffering but also to the idea of prosperity?
- What life lessons can you take away from the story of Job?
PRAY ABOUT IT
Lord, Samuel reminds me that prayer is important when he says to the people, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you” (1Sa 12:23). Remind me, Lord, that my prayers on behalf of others are my duty as well as my privilege.