In the late 1980s, I was pastor of a church in Franklin County, Mississippi, composed primarily of elderly people. One year, a winter storm hit the area, leaving many without electricity for several days.
One morning, I was having coffee with a group of men. The discussion turned to the storm and the extended power outage. One of the men jokingly said, “We’re about to find out who the pure in heart are.” Everyone chuckled. But he was right. Adversity has a tendency to test us.
When we think of adversity, we often think of Job, who experienced tremendous difficulties.
Despite being a righteous man, prominent and influential, he lost all his material possessions, children and health. Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. His friends used the occasion to condemn him rather than comfort him. Even worse, God did not respond to Job until the end.
What makes this inspired story so perplexing is that Job was the most righteous man on the earth, the least deserving of such tragic affliction. This raises the question: Why does a good God allow tragedy to come to His children? It was God who removed His protection from around Job, allowing Satan virtually unlimited access into his life to bring soul-devastating destruction.
In the opening verses, the reader is informed of something Job never learned — he was a test case. Throughout the entire trial, Job never did understand why he was suffering. There were no explanations from God. In the absence of any God-given insight, Job’s faith was stretched to the very limits.
Permission Granted (8–12)
The book of Job opens explaining how one day Satan appeared before God.
Following an exchange, God gave Satan permission to test Job, but He also gave Satan parameters in the testing of Job.
Satan is real and has enormous power, but Satan doesn’t have the power God has.
Satan is always looking for ways to test the followers of God. We need to be aware of this and not succumb to those temptations.
Each one is tempted differently, and we need to be aware of our weakness and protect ourselves against temptation.
Attack Executed (13–19)
Job lost his possessions, servants and children in an all-out attack by Satan.
Job wasn’t aware of the exchange between God and Satan and had no explanation for his losses. Someone may ask, “How would I know if I were being tested?”
I don’t know the answer to that one. I believe it is different for each person. God speaks to your heart through prayer.
Trust Maintained (20–22)
Adversity can cause us to question God. When adversity comes, we can begin to question His love.
That is why Job’s response is so powerful: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”
Job’s response highlights his belief in God’s sovereignty.
God is the Lord of the universe. We don’t always understand His ways, but we trust Him. The testing of our faith reveals what is in our hearts. Job’s faith was tested, and he proved he wasn’t serving God for what he could get but because he loved and believed in God.
By Gregg Potts, D.Min. (Jay Robertson contributed)
Potts served as a pastor for more than 30 years in Mississippi and Georgia.