July 8, 2015 by holy rollin hooker
“(8) So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (9) So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. (10) After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.”
Now, I have a whole set of difficulties with the book of Job that I will go into some time in a later post. For now, though, there are a number of really key ideas that I’ve been able to take from it that, if I just gently sweep my other concerns to the left, I find stand out as shining examples of the way we should behave in the face of a crappy set of situations.
One of the ideals that stands out so prominently to me occurs at the very end of the book. At this point, Job has put up with forty-one chapters of suffering, torment, loss, and anguish the likes of which would drive most people to drink and beyond. As if losing all of his children, property, wealth, and health wasn’t enough, he had three of the world’s most annoying frenemies yap, yap, yapping in his ear constantly about what a horrible person he must be in order for all this misery to befall him. Seriously…these guys were the worst. Instead of trying to be there to support and encourage the brother, they stood around with their la de da attitudes and pointed long, gangly fingers at him all day. Dudes—if that’s all you’re going to do, just go home already.
When Job’s suffering finally exhausted itself and came to an end, he was faced with the biggest challenge of the book in my opinion. God instructed the three frenemies to seek forgiveness for their persecution of Job, and he instructed Job to pray on their behalf for that forgiveness. Now I don’t know how honest you’re capable of being with yourself, but I can truly say that one of my first acts after getting out of my sickbed would not be to pray for the three blankety-blanks who tormented me the whole time I was there. But good old Job, true to form to the end, did pray for them, and things turned out better for all in the long run.
Let’s examine this all a bit more closely to see exactly what lessons there are to be learned:
- Firstly, God set Job the task of praying for people who did nothing but persecute him the whole time he was suffering. Do not be surprised if he does the same to you. In fact, at some point, he probably will. Mercy in adversity is one of God’s favorite lessons to teach us.
- Secondly, God honored Job’s prayer and granted them forgiveness and mercy. Imagine what might’ve happened to them had Job been bitter and disobedient and refused to pray for them. Now you might say, “Umm…they would’ve gotten exactly what they deserve.” But that really isn’t the charitable attitude to have, and it certainly isn’t the attitude we want God to take with us.
- Lastly, soon after Job obeyed and prayed for them, God restored all that Job had lost—and then some. Would God have done this had Job disobeyed this one last and probably hardest request? If Job had turned bitter, stubborn, and resentful during his trials and shown it by refusing to show mercy to his nay-sayers, would God have given him back anything—let alone double?
It is human instinct to want to strike back at those you feel have done you wrong. God certainly understands that, and he is not telling us to ignore that instinct. In fact, he wants us to embrace it. So the next time someone hurts, persecutes, lies on, or betrays you, strike back at them. How? Pray for them. Do something nice for them. And for God’s sake, your sake, and their sake, forgive them.