Job's First Response---And OursBefore the calamities that ruined his health and prosperity, Job "feared God" (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3). With no Bible to read, Job nevertheless had come to a fully orbed view of God. God was his maker (implied in the term he uses for God: "Yahweh," "the self-existent One"; see also Job 9:4-10 and 10:8); he was all-wise and compassionate (Job 2:10 and 10:12); he forgave sin on the basis of sacrifice (Job 1:5); he was a living Redeemer whom Job would one day---after death---see face to face (Job 19:25-27). Satan knew that Job feared God. But Satan had so long believed his own distorted view of God that he could not imagine any person "fearing God" if God took away material blessing. As he correctly expressed, most people find it in their hearts to feign trust in God when everything is going well and there is financial security. He assumed that Job, once his wealth was removed, would curse God (Job 1:10, 11). God, amazingly, allowed the proposition that Satan placed before him: "Put forth your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse you to your face" (Job 1:11). Disaster after disaster destroyed Job's livestock, his wealth and, yes, his ten children. Job lost everything---but a bitter wife. "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell to the ground and worshiped" (Job 1:20). Worshiped? In the days before disaster, Job humbled himself before his God and sacrificed. Now, in the face of loss and deep grief, he worshiped. In his devastation, Job acknowledged that God is still the Lord. Worship was Job's first response. Is it mine? Have I ever said, perhaps too quickly, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away" when trying to comfort someone else? Do I just as quickly say the same when I suffer grief and loss? Instead, don't I wonder if God is being fair? Is that not our complaint when we look at others who are better off, or whose Christian life seems to be blessed when ours is in shambles? There is nothing in this initial response of Job's that indicates he was grumbling about fairness. Instead, he acknowledged that he had nothing that God did not give; how could he complain when God took it away? It was God, after all. In fact, the next words out of his mouth were: "Blessed be the name of the LORD." Blessed? Satan was so sure Job would curse God!
Ash Heap and IntegrityJob had no inkling of the heavenly battle swirling around him, nor of the diabolical plan of Satan to undo his faith. Would it have helped him to know of his mortal enemy who was prowling around, seeking someone to devour? And that God let him? Would it help me? Satan was not finished. "All that a man has," he said brazenly to the Lord, "he will give for his life. But . . . touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face." Satan was still presuming a response commensurate with his own. So the Lord allowed him to ruin Job's health.
Now, sitting in ashes, scraping his boils with broken pots, Job had yet another enemy---in the form of his wife. Unwittingly siding with Satan, she sneered, "Do you still hold fast your integrity?" In fact, it was Job's integrity that God gave as evidence to Satan of the kind of man who fears him. But she went on with eerily familiar words: "Curse God and die!" What would she have left if he "cursed God and died"? She would be a childless widow and a bitter old woman with the memory of a husband who was strong in faith when times were good but who gave up when times were bad. Anyone can do that. Job echoed his own statement that it is the Lord who gives and the Lord who takes away. "Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" This is spoken by a man who knew both good and evil almost to their limits. He had gone from "the greatest man in the east" to the man sitting in the ash heap, derided by his wife.