Who's to Blame?

Bible Reading: Job 8; 9; 10 - Listen

Bildad grew impatient with Job's complaining and insisted that God would not punish a man who was pure and upright. Job agreed that God cannot be unjust, but that only confused him because he couldn't understand what he could have done to deserve such relentless suffering. He desired a court hearing before God so that he could at least know the charges against him, yet he knew that disputing with God would be futile.

Job's friends would have felt more comfortable if he would have put on a happy face instead of wallowing in self-pity, but Job could not pull himself out of his despair. "If I say, 'I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile,' I still dread all my sufferings.... I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction" (9:27-28; 10:15). Job wondered if God drew some kind of pleasure from oppressing him. He still did not reject God, but he was growing impatient with his prolonged affliction that seemed so unfair and meaningless. Like many who suffer, Job failed to realize that suffering sometimes has a higher purpose and that God's purposes may sometimes be better advanced by an outcome other than total blessing and restoration. His false assumptions are what contributed most to his despair.

Job also wrongly assumed that it was God who was stalking him like a lion and displaying his power against him (10:16), while his true oppressor was Satan. We are given audience to Satan's challenge to God in Job 1, when he wagered that Job would curse God if he had to suffer affliction rather than enjoy prosperity and blessing. Satan is, in fact, the one who draws sick pleasure from inflicting pain. Peter tells us, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). In his confrontations regarding Job, when God asked Satan where he had come from, Satan answered, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it" (Job 1:7; 2:2).

Satan still roams the earth today, going back and forth, looking for people he can deceive and devour. We should be alert to his tactics and fight back against his schemes. We can confront his lies with God's truth. If we humble ourselves before God and stand our ground against Satan, God will draw near and bestow abundant grace, and Satan will flee (James 4:6-8).

When we are drowning in Satan's affliction, we know that he can only do what God permits, as we see in Job 1 and 2. God promises that he will not permit Satan to test us beyond our power to remain firm and that he will provide us with the strength to endure (1 Cor. 10:13). God is, in fact, praying that our faith will become strong when we are tested, and that we will, in turn, strengthen others with our increased faith (Luke 22:31-32). Let us take on God's strength and trust in his sovereignty, that he may be able to say of us, as he did of Job, that we maintained our integrity when we were tested (Job 2:3). Let us allow God to take the weapon that Satan intended for our destruction and use it as a tool to build us up, bless us, shape us for his glory, and equip us to help others.