Stand Up for Yourself, as Job Did

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

Background Information
The story of Job is just that -- a story, a long poem, a drama to which we can all relate. We've probably all suffered at some point in life, and we've probably all wondered why. Job is a good man, and God is proud of him. But Satan thinks that if everything is taken away from Job, he will curse God and lose faith in God. So, God, believing in Job's goodness, allows Satan to destroy Job's children, livestock, wealth, employees, servants, reputation, marriage, and health. Finally, Job gets fed up. He wishes he has never been born. He doesn't understand why all these terrible things are happening to him, because he has led a good and blameless life. He wants an answer directly from God. The common belief among Job's people is that God only hurts people who have done wrong. Job's friends assume that Job has committed sins, or else he wouldn't be suffering so much, and tell him so. His friends tell Job to fess up, to admit his sins, and to beg forgiveness of God. As you can imagine, Job does not find a lot of comfort in his friends' words. Finally, God speaks directly to Job, and Job is awed by God's power. He learns about God directly from God. And then God scolds Job's friends for not being honest and tells them that Job will pray for them. God restores and blesses Job's life even more than before.

Make a Difference
There are some interesting lessons to be learned from the story of Job that we can apply directly to our own lives, which will make a difference for ourselves and for our friends. (All of the following Bible citations from Job are from Eugene Peterson's The Message.)

What Job does, we can do for ourselves:

  1. Job refuses to let others opinions of him shake his belief in himself.
    1. Job knows he has led a good life. He says, "I'm blameless" (9:21).
    2. Job knows "honest words" can't hurt him (6:25).
  2. Job stands up to his friends.
    1. He tells them that they aren't helping him at all.
    2. He tells them that they're lying about him and not being honest about God (13:4).
  3. He stands up for himself and his integrity.
    1. He refuses to let his friends make him feel inferior. He tells them: "I also have a brain -- I don't intend to play second fiddle to you" (12:3).
    2. Job says, "I'm not letting up -- I'm standing my ground" (23:1).
    3. Job tells his friends, "I refuse to say one word that isn't true. I refuse to confess to any charge that's false. There is no way I'll ever agree to your accusations. I'll not deny my integrity even if it costs me my life. I'm holding fast to my integrity and not loosening my grip -- and, believe me, I'll never regret it" (27:5, 6).
  4. Job goes "straight to God Almighty" and wants to hear from God rather than his friends (13:3).
  5. Job listens directly to God and learns about God first-hand.
    1. He admits to "second-guessing" God and apologizes for that (42:2).
    2. He says he had listened to "rumors" about God and promises to listen to God "firsthand" (42:5-6).
    3. He is "convinced" that God "can do anything and everything" (42:1).

We can comfort our friends. From the mistakes of Job's friends, we can learn how to help our own friends:

  1. "Console and comfort" our friends; "make things better, not worse!" (16:5); "stick with them" (6:14).
  2. Listen to our friends. Don't give them rehearsed and superficial speeches or "pious bluster" (6:25).
  3. Take care of our friends' feelings. Don't treat their "words of anguish as so much hot air" (Job 6:26). Don't treat them as things.
  4. Don't point out our friends' faults. That's the last thing they need. Rather, we need to look at our own lives and make sure we are aligned with God.
  5. Treat our friends as intelligent. Don't make them feel inferior and put them on the defensive.
  6. Trust that our friends are listening to God and can hear His words. We are not the only ones who listen to God.
  7. Believe in our friends.