By Jennifer Heeren, Crosswalk.com
The story of Job in the Bible shows a man who suffered but never turned away from God. Job didn’t understand everything, and he got frustrated, but he still showed patience by keeping his face poised toward God. He lost health, wealth, and even children. His friends didn’t believe that Job had done nothing to deserve these calamities. Job questioned and wondered, but he didn’t turn his back on his God. Despite his difficulties, Job still said, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Patience is an important quality that we all should seek to grow in. After all, love is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4). Honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest (Luke 8:15). Patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit, which breaks down into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22). God gives us the power to endure hardship, difficulties, and trials, but we must learn and grow into this fruit of the Spirit. A synonym of patience is longsuffering, and it is a lifelong endeavor.
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Where Does the Bible Mention the Phrase 'the Patience of Job'?
James 5:11 in the King James Version uses the exact phrase the patience of Job.
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.
Other versions and translations use different wording for the same meaning. The New King James Version calls it the perseverance of Job. New Living Translation words it like this: We give great honor to those who endure suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy. The New International Version speaks of Job’s perseverance. It is the steadfastness of Job in the English Standard Version.
Job was patient, had perseverance, endured suffering, showed great endurance, and was steadfast under intense pressure.
James wrote about the patience of Job between the years of 44 and 49 A.D. Believers faced much persecution. James wanted to remind them endurance is needed. The world hates Christ and therefore, anyone who believes in Jesus is a threat. Persecution of Christians didn’t stop in the 1st century. It grew every century since. James seemed to know that it would be important to cultivate the patience of Job in every believer’s heart. Like Job, we sometimes have done nothing to deserve to suffer but must endure it anyway. We must continue to worship the Lord whatever we’re going through because we know He is full of compassion and mercy. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can exhibit perseverance, endurance, and imitate the patience of Job under any circumstance.
What Happened in Job’s Life?
Job was a man of integrity. He stayed away from evil, and the Lord was pleased with him. Satan, however, thought that the only reason for Job’s patience was his prosperity. Satan wanted to remove that prosperity and cause Job to walk away from God. God allowed Satan to test Job.
Job’s farm animals were stolen, and his farmhands were killed. His children were killed by a tornado. Job stood up, tore his robe, and shaved his head. But his grief didn’t make him angry. It made him fall to the ground to worship God. He cried, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” He praised his God even though his circumstances wanted him to do otherwise.
God was pleased. Satan wasn’t and asked if he could take away Job’s health. Job was struck with painful boils from head to toe. Job’s wife mocked his integrity and urged him to curse God. Job replied: “You sound like a foolish woman. Shall we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”
Three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedies and came to visit Job to comfort and console him. At first, they sat with Job in silence because his suffering was too great for words.
One friend wondered about Job’s faith. Didn’t his reverence for God give him confidence? Didn’t his life of integrity give him hope? It’s easy to question another’s integrity when you are not in his shoes. He insinuated Job must have done something wrong.
Job’s other friend speaks and theorizes that if Job is as righteous as he thinks he is, he could pray to God have everything restored to him. He means well and hopes that Job will once again have a better life, but he still implies Job needs to repent of some major wrongdoing.
Job’s third friend denies Job’s claim of innocence and dares to say that Job deserved even more punishment from God. Job charges that it’s easy for his friends to mock him. They aren’t going through this horrendous trouble. He’s upset with his friends, but remembers that true wisdom and power are only found in God. His friends aren’t understanding him. Maybe God would understand him?
Over 80% of the book of Job is poor advice that Job’s friends gave him. They told him what they knew in their head but left off compassion from their heart. Job’s friends wanted to remind him of God’s power and greatness, but they weren’t imitating God’s mercy and compassion.
So, Job goes to God and asks God to remove His heavy hand. He also asks what he did wrong and why God turned away from him. Job laments on the frailness of humanity. He longs to get his strength and hope back. Why should suffering occur? Why is pain inevitable? Why do the wicked seem to prosper and the good are punished?
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Why Was Job's Patience So Important?
Finally, the Lord answers and brings a conclusion to the long debate between Job and his friends. Who are they to question His wisdom and actions? Were they there before He created everything? Do they understand the intense engineering that went into all that is? The Lord finished by saying to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” (Job 40:1-2)
Job replied to the Lord, “I am nothing… how could I ever find the answers... I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say. I know you can do anything, and no one can stop you…I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me…I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
The Lord was pleased with Job’s humility and patience. He then turned to Job’s friends and rebuked them because they hadn’t spoken accurately about Him. They needed to repent of their callous attitude and misrepresentation of Him and ask Job to pray for them. Job’s friends repented and beseeched Job to pray for them and the Lord accepted Job’s forgiveness of them as His own. Job’s patience with them in the midst of everything he was going through shows the true integrity of his character and heart.
Then God gave Job back twice as much as he lost, including family and friends coming back around to comfort and console him for his former losses. He lived another 140 years and died after living a very full life.
What Can We Learn from the Patience of Job?
1. Everyone has sinned and has fallen short of God’s glory. Even when I’m innocent of specific actions, my heart is guilty of rebellion against God. I’m never perfect, and I always want my own way. Arguing with God is simply me trying to be right in my own eyes. It’s pride.
2. Don’t compare your lot to another’s. I tend to compare my actions with others and conclude that I wouldn’t do what they are doing. Maybe I wouldn’t do that, but I would do something else that is just as wrong in God’s eyes.
3. Don’t dwell on “why” questions. The “why” questions are too heavy for me to bear. It rarely does me any good to ask why questions. Better ways for me to respond are:
This happened. What do I do now, Lord?
How do I make the best of this?
What can I learn from this?
4. Remember compassion when trying to help a friend.
Sometimes I want justice and vindication when I’m talking about others. But for myself, I want compassion. I need to say, “God is great,” but also care for and love my neighbor. Both ideals go together.
5. Remain humble. When I don’t understand the Lord’s doing (which is most of the time), the best thing for me to do is bow a humble head. But I can ask for God’s wisdom to get through whatever I need to get through. His grace, wisdom, and compassion are always there for me.
I can feel like I’m living right, and hardship may still come. Jesus said that in this world, I will have troubles. However, there is always a choice in how I will respond to adversity, disappointments, and frustration. When I keep looking to God, He will keep me centered on His compassion, mercy, and grace, which will make practicing patience much easier.
Even during terrible circumstances, I can remember that everything that happens to or around me happens for a reason. God grows me throughout all of it. The Spirit and my faith remind me that all things work together for the good. Not all incidents are good, but God is always good in the midst of them.
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I might gain Christ. Philippians 3:8
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