Many years ago there lived a very rich man named Job. He owned thousands of sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys. God had blessed this man with many loyal servants and with seven sons and three daughters. Job was a righteous man who did what was good and avoided doing evil. He was respected in his community and many people looked to him for help. He often helped the poor, widows, and orphans, and gave excellent advice to others.
Because of Job’s righteous life, Satan hated him and wanted to tempt him to give up his faith in God. One day, Satan came to present himself to God. God asked if Satan had taken a look at Job, a righteous man who feared God and avoided evil. Satan had seen Job, but claimed that Job only served God because God had blessed him with physical riches. Satan said that Job would curse God to His face if Job’s riches were taken away. God knew this would not happen, so He allowed Satan to strip Job of all his earthly wealth.
In one day Job’s ten children were killed, his livestock and riches were stolen or destroyed, and almost all of his servants were killed. When Job heard the tragic news of all his losses, the Bible tells us that he “fell to the ground and worshiped.” He then said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). In all of his pain and loss, Job still trusted in God.
But Satan was not finished tormenting Job. In Job chapter two we read that Satan again came to God. God again asked Satan if he had taken a look at Job. Even though Job had suffered so much, he still had his faith in God. Satan responded that Job still trusted God because Job had not suffered physical illness or disease. If Job was sick and his health was taken away, Satan said, then Job would curse God. Knowing that Satan was wrong, God allowed Satan to bring terrible physical disease upon Job.
Satan struck Job with painful boils. His skin became dry and cracked. When Job sat up, he hurt. When he lay down, he hurt. Even when he stood up, the pain from the boils was terrible. When his wife saw Job’s miserable condition, she encouraged him to curse God and die. But he would not. In all his suffering, Job did not “curse God” like Satan had said he would. In fact, Job continued to trust God. Job even said that if God killed him, he would still trust Him (Job 13:15).
After Job went through all his suffering and continued to trust in God, he was blessed again with good health. His financial possessions increased twice as much as he had before his suffering, and he had ten more children. He grew old and watched his grandchildren grow.
But one of the most interesting things about the story of Job is the fact that even though God spoke to Job in chapters 38-41, God did not give him a reason for his suffering. God never even tried to explain why He allowed Job to suffer. From the Bible story, we have no record that Job ever knew about Satan’s two meetings with God, or was ever given a reason for his suffering. Basically, God helped Job understand that God’s ways are always the best, even though we may not understand them.
Looking back on the story of Job, we realize that God was using Job to show the world that not all humans are selfish and out to “get things” from God. In fact, Job shows us that he loved God and was going to trust in Him regardless of the temptations that Satan used against him. God was using Job as an amazing example of patience in times of trouble. God was using Job to write “the book” on human suffering and endurance. Job’s amazing patience has been an example for literally billions of people for several thousand years. His story has helped many other people deal correctly with tragedy in their lives. Even in the New Testament, Job’s faithful attitude is put forth as an example to follow (see James 5:11).
From this story, we should learn that God might be using the sorrows, troubles, and trials that each of us go through for a much greater good that we do not understand now. In the end, we must remember that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28)—even pain and suffering.