Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The Test of Suffering (Job 2:1-8)

"So Satan … struck Job with painful boils" (Job 2:7).

Seeing that his efforts to turn Job’s heart had failed, Satan devises another plan. If the death of his children and the loss of his wealth would not cause him to curse God, then maybe a threat to his own life would do it. With this in mind, Satan approaches the throne of God, once more recognizing that he could do nothing without God’s permission.

In an almost mocking tone, God extols Job’s integrity in front of Satan. “Instead of letting go his religion, and cursing God, Job holds it faster than ever, as that which has now more than ordinary occasion for,” Henry writes. “He is the same in adversity that he was in prosperity, and rather better, and more hearty and lively in blessing God than ever he was, and takes root the faster for being thus shaken.”

Job’s integrity inflames Satan, who once again accuses Job of insincerity. If only his own life were in jeopardy, Satan argued, he would certainly curse God. Henry observes that there is a ring of truth in what Satan said. “Self-love and self-preservation are very powerful commanding principles in the hearts of men. Men love themselves better than their nearest relations, even their children, that are parts of themselves, will not only venture, but give, their estates to save their lives.… We ought to make a good use of this consideration, and while God continues to give us our life and health and the use of our limbs and sense, we should the more patiently bear the loss of other comforts.”

God gives Satan permission to test Job again—he could do anything except kill him. Satan afflicts Job in a most terrible manner. He causes ulcers and sores to break out all over his body. The only relief Job can find is to scrape them open. We do not read of Job covering them with soft linen, or reclining on his bed for relief. But, in a truly humble frame, he sits among the ashes, draining his sores with a broken pot. Even in the midst of pain, Job remains the humble servant.

Henry advises us to consider Job when we are sick and hurt. “If at any time we be exercised with sore and grievous distempers, let us not think ourselves dealt with any otherwise than as God has sometimes dealt with the best of His saints and servants.”

Read Deuteronomy 7:15; Jeremiah 30:17; and Hosea 6:1. We have learned that God sometimes uses afflictions to strengthen our faith. What hope do you find in these passages? Why is it comforting to know that God not only inflicts suffering but brings healing? In whom do you put your hope in when you are sick?