What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (Job 2:10b)
We continue our study of Job today with a consideration of Job’s uprightness through the trial. Though all his riches have been taken from him, and all his children, he has not cursed God. God considers how Job has not sinned and cursed him despite the afflictions Satan placed on him (v. 3) and which God permitted.
Satan says that a further affliction placed upon him will cause Job to curse God. Here, we must remember the words of the Apostle Peter, that Satan is like a roaring lion prowling about and seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8). Just when we think that we are afflicted enough, Satan places a further affliction upon us. He does not rest from afflicting the church and, as such, we must be watchful always.
Yet, though Satan is the physical cause of these afflictions for Job, we must understand that all is done within the sovereignty of God. No suffering is placed before us which God has not allowed to be there and by which he is pleased to draw us to Himself. James Durham in his Lectures on the Book of Job notes:
…the sovereignty of God prefixed to the second trial, to teach us that it is not devils nor men who guide the world, but it is God who sits on his throne, and gives them commission, limits them, and calls them to account – a thing the people of God would have much in their eye, and behold God now as immediately governing affairs, as if he were on a throne, and all opposers were called before his bench or court. (p.23)
This is the meaning of Job’s words when he says that we receive not only good but also evil. Matthew Henry notes “When the heart is humbled and weaned, by humbling weaning providence, then we receive correction (Zeph 3:2) and take up our cross.”
We note also here that Job’s temptations were made all the more trying by the scorn of his wife. Unlike Adam who cursed God by telling him “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me persuaded me to do it” (Gen 3:12), here Job rebukes the woman for her cursing and rebellion. Durham notes that our nearest relations and those of our household may live peaceably together until an affliction comes, and then they become “instruments of one another’s grief.” Ask yourself: are you allowing those around you to turn the bitter providences you face into an occasion for cursing God? Do you worsen the trials of your family members by tempting them further? If so, repent of this and seek the tender mercy God in the midst of such trials.
Let us conclude by being clear on this matter: Occasions for anger, in the Christian life, are suitable only in response to sin. Anger at the providences in which God has placed you is not righteous. It is a sin against God, a transgression against the third commandment. The Larger Catechism Q.112-113 discuss how we must have a holy reverence for God in our lots and in His works. A trial we face is one of those works.
May we seek to reverence him despite the circumstance. In your trials, do not pour indignation upon the name of God but rather pour out your grief upon Him in prayer, begging Him for deliverance and thanking Him for his Fatherly loving-kindness toward us.