What happened to Job and why? Are those the right questions? We will never understand everything and sometimes we need to simply trust. Not trust in a “whatever will be will be” approach, that is fatalism, not faith. However we do need to trust that if we love Jesus and are pursuing His purpose He is ordering and guiding our life and we are in the process nurturing spiritual life.
In considering Job I have heard or read teachings seeking to explain away what happened to Job as being the responsibility of Job. Why do we do that? Partly because of our natural desire to understand and explain things and sometimes seeking to fit the scriptures into our pre-set theological frameworks. However then we seek to make Yahweh in our image. What we should be doing is submitting our beliefs and perspectives to His word and letting the scriptures actually be our guide.
When we read the story of Job we find that Yahweh initiated this test by pointing Job out to Satan (see Job 1:8-12). He said in verse 8 ‘have you considered my servant Job” or literally, “have you set your heart on my servant Job.” Satan already wanted to attack Job and Yahweh opened the door for Satan. Yet James tells us that the intended end was good. In the story of Job his three friends are at one point described by Job as “miserable comforters” because they kept telling Job he must have sinned or done something wrong to have brought this calamity on himself. In responding to their bad theology Elihu confronted both them and Job.
1 So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. 3 Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. Job 32:1-3 (NKJV)
In the end Yahweh confronted and challenged Job and rebuked his three friends. In spite of all he had been through when Job saw the one he contended with he responded in this way.
1 Then Job answered the LORD and said: 2 “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6 Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”
7 And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” Job 42:1-7 (NKJV)
Seeing the end from the beginning we can see that Yahweh had a purpose in what He put Job through.
10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 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. James 5:10-11 (NKJV)
So while pursuing our relationship with Him let us trust in His sovereignty and believe He has the same good end intended for us if we submit to His work in our lives. There is a simple expression I once read that encapsulates it, “Work toward goals, pray for desires.” I would add, “and in the process be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2).