When we receive a blessing we say “God is so good.” But when we go through trials, that is not the first phrase that spontaneously comes out of our mouths. In fact, if we say it at all, it’s usually when the trial has passed and ended with a positive outcome. Then we say “God is so good.” It is indeed a good testimony of God’s goodness. But what about if the trial does not have a good outcome, such as when someone passes away or is horrifically abused? There are so many scenarious. But the Bible shows us that God is good all the time. Paul’s life was one of continuous suffering and persecution ending in his martyrdom. There was a time when Paul and his ministry partners “were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself” (2 Cor. 1:8). Read the next few verses and we hear him give glory to God.
I think there is one man in the Bible who suffered probably more than anyone else – dear Job. He knew God was good, even though his trials didn’t turn with an outcome one would hope for.
Job was a blameless, upright man, fearing God and shunning evil. There was no one like Job in all the earth (Job 1:8). He lost everything in one day – his ten children, his wealth and livelihood, and his servants Think of the magnitude of what had just befallen Job. His response was quite remarkable: “Then Job rose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ Through all this Job did not sin nor blame God.” (Job 1:1-22) Job worshiped God, and understood that God is still good. Then he was striken with a horribly gruesome and painful illness. His wife said, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9).
Job’s wife’s incorrect view of God said, “God is not good because these awful things happened to us. Therefore, He is not worthy of worship.” But still Job recognized that God was good and could be trusted, even in tragedy: “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). What an amazing testimomy.
As he sat in the ashes scraping his boils, feverish, and in tremendous pain, three friends came along. Stricken by his frightful, disfiguring, condition, they wept and sat with him an entire week without a word, for they saw that his pain was great (Job 2:11-13) – that was compassion and support at its best.
When they finally opened their mouths, compassion and support went out the window. Attempting to make sense of it all, they proceeded to buffett Job with condemnation, in effect saying “This happened to you because you have sinned. You brought this on yourself.” Job called them “worthless physicians” (Job 13:4). In Job’s continued suffering, his emotions and thoughts ran the gamut. He wished he’d never been born; he doubted; He questioned God and his plan. Along the way, he had moments of remembering that with God, there is hope, because He is good, He is sovereign, and even if he died from this, there was an eternal future, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last…I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).
Another time he said, “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him. Nevertheless, I will argue my ways before Him” (Job 13:15). He was bold to argue his case before God, by reminding God that he was a righteous man. It was an accusation, in a sense, that God was being unfair for afflicting a righteous man. Job didn’t lose faith, but in his great struggle, his argument with God led to his sin. Job was blameless and God-fearing, but not sinless.
God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding” (Job 38:4). For four more chapters God revealed Himself as a majestic, awesome (in the true sense of the word), and sovereign Creator. He asked for an answer from Job, in paraphrase, “Now what do you think, Job? If you’re so smart, tell me what you know.” Greatly humbled and put in his place, Job’s perspective had now changed.
“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted… Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know…I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6).
Here is one of the greatest revelations about God – God is Sovereign, He is always good, His plan is always right, and the adversity he allows is always for His greater purpose and plan to bring glory to Himself and to our good. Job’s trials were horrible. It was not sin that caused them. God didn’t make the trials better, but he brought good from them. Said Paul, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Steve Lawson made the point well when he said, “We must trust God, not only WHEN we do not understand, but BECAUSE we do not understand.” This is faith that God is good, God is for us, His plan can be trusted, even when we don’t understand it, and He is in control.
Job learned this. He then knew God in a much deeper way, and now had right sized understanding of himself as God’s child. It revolutionized his life, and it can ours – because God is good, all the time. To Him be the glory!