“After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it … God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark. His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground.” (Job 3:1-5, 16:11-13).
There are times when terrible things happen in our lives that appear to have no reason, and often we feel that we must be failures to God. But things are not always as they seem to be to the flesh. Has God chosen a few to be victorious and the rest of us to suffer failure?
Job felt that he was a waste of space, a total failure, or in modern terminology, a complete and utter loser. He knew that he was a true believer and was fully committed to serving the Lord, but why was he suffering when he was not living in any obvious sin? If he had done nothing wrong then the Lord must have no purpose for him.
As a perfect man that hated evil and honoured God he must have brought his children up in a godly fashion, yet they were taken away from him. He had great wealth and though he never trusted in it, he lost it all. He was in full health yet debilitating sores disfigured his body. There is no doubting that he loved his wife, but her words pierced him to the heart when she said, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die” (Job 2:9). He was a broken man who knew not why all this happened to him. His logic told him that he was a useless loser destined to be a failure throughout his life.
His three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar had a wonderful opportunity to encourage Job and deliver him from his depression, but what “miserable comforters” they turned out to be! (Job 16:2). Deep down they considered him to be a failure too. They had no real answer or words of comfort for Job, and all of their attempts to get him to see their point of view were met by his notion that God had rejected him. He had all the evidence that he needed that the Lord had forsaken him and given him over to be battered from pillar to post. His three friends concluded that there must be unconfessed sin in his life. “His bones are full of the sin of his youth” (Job 20:11). Neither they or Job understood the real reason behind his suffering, therefore it was obvious that he was a failure.
Job did not realise it yet, but he was already a winner instead of a loser. He won the victory the moment he resisted any thought of blaming God for his dilemma. “In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:10). It was at that point that Satan was defeated. Nevertheless Satan sent three men to try to confuse Job and to steal his faith from him. For almost the rest of the book we are presented with their varied attempts to undermine Job’s trust in God. Finally in Job 42:7 we find the Lord revealing their true intentions and speaking of Job as His servant, “The LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.”
So God actually saw Job as His servant rather than a failure. In Ezekiel 14:14 He mentions Job as an example of someone who lived righteously, “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.” In the New Testament Job is still being elevated as a man of faith who patiently trusted in God despite personal suffering. “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11).
So according to God His servant Job was far from being the failure he and others thought he was. Job loved and served God, but his sufferings taught him the Lord’s will and purposes do not always align with that of man. He believed the truth, but now he had knowledge of God’s sovereign power. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5). He had faith beyond his experiences. “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27).
We too often struggle with feelings of failure, and like Job we have to overcome whatever life throws at us. We do not always know the reasons but we do know that God loves and cares for us despite any pain, sorrow or hardship. Problems do not make us failures while we keep our trust in Christ. Paul promises, “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9), and certainly Job found this to be true, “So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12). Like him we need to have patience, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36). We need to look beyond the problem to the One who has all the answers, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18), for “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39). We do not need to give up when we feel like failures, but instead let us continue to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).