I used to think patience was a stoic endurance made without complaint. In my mind, patient people were those who put up with things and smiled. They never said anything and their disposition remained sweet and constant. I thought this until I read in God’s Word that Job was an example of patient endurance.
Job was a godly man who was also wealthy and had a large family. He loved the Lord and obeyed Him. One day, Satan approached God and suggested that Job would not be so loyal if God had not built a hedge around him and if he didn’t have so much, he would curse God.
I don’t know why God accepted the challenge, or why He didn’t ignore this, like we would swat away a buzzing fly, but He didn’t. He told Satan that he could do what he wanted with Job, except kill him.
The story begins then with the destruction of all Job owned and then the death of each child. At this, Job sat down and said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” The Bible says, “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.”
Then Job’s health was taken. At that, his wife told him to curse God and die. His friends were first struck silent by Job’s suffering and should have stayed that way, but they began accusing him. They told him he must have sinned or this would not have happened. Their accusations continue for chapters and chapters of this story.
I try to imagine myself in this man’s position. His children were dead. His wife was no help. His wealth was gone. He was covered with boils from head to foot. Still he said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Again, “Job did not sin with his lips.”
Later, when the friends hit their high notes, Job began to strike back. He told them they were “miserable comforters” and cursed the day he was born. He complained about his situation and the lack of comfort he received. He expressed his deep bitterness. In modern terminology, Job did a lot of whining.
Oh, he had some high moments. His faith in God came out in declarations such as, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” and “I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.”
Seeming to intuitively understand what was going on, Job also said, “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” but for the most of the Old Testament book in his name, he complains and expresses deep frustration.
The New Testament hold up Job has an example of patience and perseverance. James 5 says, “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
Job blows away my ideas about patience. In the mind of God, the person who holds fast to their faith under the greatest trials is a patient person, not necessarily the one who has nothing to say, no protest to make.
Patience allows free expression. In fact, when Job’s wife said, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity?’ I get the clue to what made Job a great man. He never faked how he felt. Patience is not faking it. Also, even though Job expressed his great dismay, he never tried to “fix” it. Patience hangs in, stays with the suffering, endures the pain, refuses the accusations because they are not right, and trusts that God, who knows all things, has some reason for allowing all this to happen.
When I compare myself to Job, I see myself trusting God will “fix” it, but telling Him to hurry up about it. I’m not sure if Job did that, so I’ve a ways to go. However, I’ve learned one thing from this man; that suffering is a refining process. The goldsmith turns up the heat on a pot of melted metal. The impurities rise as dross to the surface where the master can skim them from the gold. The metal is pure when the goldsmith can see his face in its surface.
Job teaches me that when the heat is on, I must be willing to let go of those impurities. This test is no fun, but through it, the Lord is looking for pure gold, and if I cooperate, He will find it.