In one day, Job lost all 500 of his oxen. Terrorizing robbers from Southwest Arabia swooped down on his servants, killed them, and took all the animals with them.
On that same day, lightning struck and killed Job’s 7,000 sheep, together with the servants looking after them.
On that same day, a bandit of nomads from the Arabian desert killed the rest of Job’s servants and stole all 3,000 camels that Job possessed.
But that’s not all. On that same day, a great wind came across the desert and collapsed the house in which Job’s 7 sons and 3 daughters were gathered. All of Job’s children – the children whom he loved and deeply cared for – were killed.
In a matter of hours, Job went from being the richest, most respected man in Northern Arabia, to one of the poorest. From having an abundance, to having nothing.
Hedge Of Protection Removed
So, what was the cause of Job’s suffering? In the opening chapter of the Book of Job we see that while there were different bandits who plundered Job, and while there were (what appeared to be) natural disasters that destroyed the remaining of his livestock and even his children, Satan was the one behind it all.
At first, we read in Job 1:10 how Satan complained to God that he was unable to bring disaster upon Job, because of the hedge of protection that God had placed around Job. God then temporarily allowed the hedge to be removed, and Satan wasted no time to take advantage of it.
So, while it was actually Satan that attacked Job, the question we should ask ourselves is, how did Satan manage to convince God to remove the hedge of protection that Job enjoyed in the first place?
One could speculate that maybe Job had some sin in his life, maybe even a secret sin, that resulted in an open door for the enemy to come in and attack him. However, when we look at the very first chapter and verse of the Book of Job, Job is described as someone who was blameless and upright. In Ezekiel 14:14 God singled out three men who were righteous and blameless in His sight, and Job was one of them. It therefore wouldn’t make sense that sin was the reason why the hedge of protection around Job could be removed to give Satan an opportunity to attack him.
Others have said that the reason why Satan was able to come against Job is because Job allowed fear in his life. In Job 3:25 Job said that the thing which he greatly feared came upon him, and that which he dreaded had happened to him. However, there is not enough evidence to support this idea and it is only a conjecture at best.
We could speculate quite a bit as to why Job suffered, but there is really no need for speculation as the Bible explains it to us in no uncertain terms. However, before I give you the actual reason for Job’s suffering, we need to understand something about the nature of Satan.
Satan The Accuser
We need to understand that Satan is an accuser. In Revelation 12:10 he is described as the one who accuses God’s children before Him day and night.
In 1 Peter 5:8 we read that Christians – the children of God, those to whom the Book of 1 Peter is dedicated to – are to be sober, vigilant and on guard because the enemy, the devil, who is also our adversary, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. What is interesting is that in the original Greek text, the word translated as adversary comes from the word antidikos, which is the word used to describe someone who is an opponent in a law case.
It is important to note that the antidikos specifically accuses God’s children, as he is looking for a legal right to have the hedge of protection which we enjoy, removed.
The Reason For Job’s Suffering
When we read about Satan in Job 1, it helps to also know that the word Satan in the Hebrew text literally means accuser. When we scrutinise the text, we can then see that it was not because of sin that Job suffered. The accuser came before God, but we see that he couldn’t find anything to accuse Job of. If there was sin in Job’s life which he could have used against him, he would have done so.
Instead, since the accuser was unable to accuse Job of sin, what did Satan then use to come against Job?
The answer might surprise you, but it was Job’s righteousness.
In Job 1:8, God boasted about Job, saying there was none like Job on the earth. God called Job blameless and upright, and someone who feared God and who abstained from and turned away from evil because he honoured God.
Satan, the accuser, then used this against Job saying the only reason why Job was righteous was because God had placed a hedge of protection around Job and had blessed him abundantly.
Satan said that if it wasn’t for all the goodness which Job enjoyed from God, he would have cursed God instead.
Job’s Response Amidst Suffering
God then temporarily removed the hedge of protection around Job, and told Satan he could do to Job whatever he wished. The only thing he was not allowed to do was to take Job’s life.
Then, in one day, Job lost everything he had, including all ten of his children.
This was the greatest test of Job’s righteousness.
Was the accuser going to be proven correct?
Did Job only serve God because of all the blessings he had received from the Lord?
Was Job going to turn his back on God and curse God to his face, the moment all the goodness he had received from the Lord was taken away from him?
Well, let us find out.
After calamity struck, in the midst of his anguish, Job responded by saying the following:
“The Lord gave, and the Lord took away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
Job 1:22 says that in all this, Job did not sin, nor did he blame God.
Tempted To Curse God
In Job 2, we can see that God was proud of Job’s response. God told Satan that in spite of Job being destroyed without cause, he was still blameless and upright.
Satan, the accuser, then used Job’s righteousness against him, again, by accusing him in advance that he would turn his back on God if he lost his good health. God then gave Satan permission to destroy Job’s health, but he was not allowed to take his life.
Job 2:7 says that Satan then struck Job with loathsome boils and agonizingly painful sores. As a result, Job’s wife then enticed Job to sin by asking him why he was still holding on to his integrity? Clearly upset about her own loss and with what was happening to Job, she then told Job to curse God and die!
Again, Job was being tested.
Again, Job did not sin and responded by asking if we are to accept only good from God, and not also accept adversity and disaster? (Job 2:10)
How Would You Respond?
Job’s response is truly an inspiring one. Which of us can say we would respond in the same manner as Job did?
If you lost everything you had, including your good health and even your children, would you cry out to God and say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord took away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”?
Maybe you have already lost a lot, maybe you have lost everything. How did you respond?
The Purpose Of Hardship
So, while the real reason for Job’s suffering was not his sin but, in fact, his right-standing with God, we need to understand there is always a higher purpose for our suffering – regardless of whether we suffer because of sin, or because of our righteousness.
This is because even though Job was considered righteous, all of us – including Job – need to work on our character.
And while we don’t like to hear it, hard times are exactly what God uses to shape and mould us, and to help us to grow our character to be more pleasing in His sight (Romans 8:29).
Romans 5 says that Christians who have been justified and declared blameless before God by faith, should exult in their sufferings and rejoice in their hardships. Hardship, according to the Bible, produces endurance, and endurance produces a proven character and spiritual maturity (Romans 5:3-4).
Just in case we didn’t read the Book of Romans, the Book of James also addresses Christians and opens with the following: Consider it nothing but joy, whenever you fall into various trials. The testing of your faith produces endurance, and endurance a proven character (James 1:2).
Ultimately, of course, all suffering which we as children of God endure is meant for the glory of God.
Think about how much it glorified God when Job said “Praise the Lord” when calamity struck, instead of cursing God?
How You Respond Reveals Who You Really Are
We should not be surprised when we have to endure difficult times – especially if you are a Christian and a true child of God. While there is much heartache and pain in the world for various reasons, those who serve God should understand that we are not exempt from being tested… even maybe like Job was tested.
When we go through hardship, we can either blame God and turn our back on Him, or we can accept the good and the bad from Him, trusting that ultimately it is for our good – even when it doesn’t feel like it.
I live next to an Airbnb, and it wasn’t too long ago when we had neighbours who didn’t respect our house rules of being quiet after 10pm. At about 11pm, I headed next door and knocked on the door with the intention of asking them to be mindful of their neighbours and to adhere to the rules of the complex. To my frustration they pretended I wasn’t there and continued with their partying. In that moment I lost my temper and I banged really hard on the door. This got their attention and they finally came to the door to hear what I had to say. I demanded they turned down the music and that they quieted down, which they then did.
As I walked back inside my home, I immediately regretted how I behaved. I realised I operate in the flesh instead of by the Spirit. A day or two later God spoke to me through a dream. I dreamed I was outside and walked into my house. As I walked into my house, I dreamed how I was closing the door but never turned the key to lock the security gate. When I woke up, I knew God showed me that through my actions I had inadvertently left a door open where the enemy would be able to come in.
In other words, my hedge of protection was compromised.
I would suggest that if you are going through hardship, ask God if there is sin in your life you need to repent of. Maybe the accuser has brought accusations against you, and the hedge of protection is removed because of sin.
How We Overcome
So, how do we overcome? While there is an enemy – the antidikos, the accuser – walking around looking who he can devour, Revelation 12:11 tells us that the enemy is overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, while holding on to our faith.
Immediately I started to repent, confessing to God and to my wife that I had been foolish in my actions when the neighbouring guests didn’t show respect to the people around them. I asked for the Blood of the Lamb to cleanse me of my unrighteous deeds, and that God would lock the doors again in the spirit realm which I had opened through my sin.
If it feels like the hedge of protection is removed and you find it is because of sin, then confess your sins as James 5:16 commands us to, and ask God to forgive you because of what Jesus did on the cross for you. Ask that the Blood of Jesus will speak on your behalf, and that it will silence the voice of the accuser.
However, just like Job, not all suffering is because of sin. Sometimes it is because of our righteousness. The Bible says that if you are a Christians, then you are the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). If the accuser cannot find any sin to accuse you of, be sure that he might just try to use the fact that you are blameless before God as an excuse to come against you and test you, just like he did with Job.
Many years ago, I was accused by my ex-wife of things that were not true. There was even a court case, and a full investigation by the state that lasted for 18 months. As a result of the case against me I experienced massive loss and trauma.
During this time, God spoke to me through a dream. In my dream I was on an operating table and someone cut my eye open with a scalpel. The person performing the surgery looked and looked, trying to find a speck. However, he could not find any. The dream was based on Matthew 7:3-5, which says we need to be careful when we pass judgment on others. Jesus said we should first remove the log from our own eye before we try to get the speck out of someone else’s eye. When I woke from the dream I therefore knew God was saying to me that I was innocent in the matter.
If we are innocent, why then does God allow suffering in our lives? If God reveals to you that you are not suffering because of sin, maybe you are suffering because of your right-standing with God. Maybe you are even suffering for the glory of God!
In John 9 we read about a man who was born blind. When the disciples of Jesus asked Him if the man suffered because of sin, Jesus said that in this particular case it was not because of sin, but so that the works of God might be displayed and illustrated through the man (John 9:3). Jesus then healed the man of his blindness, and even two thousand years later God is still glorified because of this miracle Jesus performed on someone who was blind since birth.
The Garment Of Praise
The best thing we can do in the midst of the trial is to rejoice, and to allow the difficult times to produce endurance, which in turn produces a godly character.
The good news is that at the end of Job’s trial, God restored to him double everything he had lost.
Therefore, in the place of the spirit of heaviness, put on the garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3).
This is my comfort and solace. Even though I also experienced massive loss in my life, I trust God to restore to me also the years that the locusts have stolen, just as He did for Job (Joel 2:25).
Until then, even in the midst of trouble, I know that from my side I have to endure the trials, work on my character, become more like Jesus, and be a living sacrifice pleasing in His sight.
You may also want to read: How To Deal With Trauma & Emotional Pain, Effectively
- Artwork by Magic Studio Apps (AI Generated)