“How are you?” I asked a friend, calling this week to check on her.

“I’ve been reading the book of Job,” she said.

“That’s a real pick-me-up,” I joked.

“Actually, it’s great,” she replied. “The more I read about all of the bad things that happened to Job, the better I am!”

We both laughed. The book of Job is considered the oldest recorded text in the Bible. It takes the form of a traditional three-act play. Whether it was written as a piece of performance art meant to reveal deeper truths about God, or whether it records an actual event, theologians disagree.

Internal Biblical evidence supports the idea that Job was a real person, ranked right up there with two other champions of faith Noah and Daniel. But to communicate God’s message to various people living in various cultures and times, the writers who dipped their reed pens in ink pots or scratched metal styluses across clay tablets to write the scriptures relied on a variety of literary forms and techniques, including poetry, parables, metaphor, and hyperbole.


I take the book of Job literally, as did James, the brother of Jesus, who quoted from it in the New Testament. Either way, Job’s story starts out as a tragedy. The very first verse reveals that Job, a man from Uz, was “blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil” (1:1 NASV). Yet, despite Job’s good standing with God, in the course of a single day, all of his flocks and herds were stolen or destroyed. His servants were slaughtered, and his sons and daughters died in a storm. As a bonus, Job broke out in painful, oozing blisters. As a result, Job’s wife suggested that he curse God and die (2:9). His friends weren’t much help either.

Some days life feels like that – like in spite of how hard you’ve worked to do everything right, one wrong thing after another keeps messing up your life. Like Job’s wife, it’s easy to aim our anger for life’s calamities at God. But little did she – or perhaps even Job himself – know that the real culprit in this story wasn’t God. It was God’s enemy, Satan, who had received permission to test Job’s faithfulness to God.

“Through all this Job did not sin, nor did he blame God,” the writer of Job reveals (1:22). Instead of cursing God, Job cursed himself, wishing that he had never been born. After enumerating all of the ways in which life wasn’t fair, Job ultimately repented of his rebellion (23:1), sought God (42:1-6), and prayed for the very friends who had failed him (42:10).

In the end, God restored all of Job’s fortunes. In fact, scripture says, “the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (42:12).

Like Job, we often don’t know why troubles come upon us, but we can be assured that God still loves us. Trusting God in hard times is, well… hard. No one wants to suffer loss. But despite our losses, God promises to bless all who trust in him. Our lives may start out as a tragedy, but they don’t have to stay that way. Good things are still ahead.

Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the memoir “Redeeming Ruth,” writes from a little house in the big woods of Midcoast Maine. She is also the author of the children’s picture book “The Backward Easter Egg Hunt” and four other books celebrating the holidays with activities that build children’s faith. Connect at meadowrue.com.

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