April 30, 1996
“I try to be patient with my children but sometimes lose my temper and yell at them.”
“You sew your own clothes? Not me. I don’t have the patience for sewing.”
Ever try to define patience? Is it finishing a difficult project? Is it restraint instead of interfering? Is it waiting without pacing the floor? Is it fishing all day without catching anything?
Most agree, patience is enduring a difficulty without over-reacting. For those who trust God, patience is based on a deep faith that He is in control. Because He is good, and is a God of purpose and design, we can trust Him and be patient, even if all goes wrong. The trouble is, we do not learn this virtue unless it does!
Job is an interesting case. People often say, “She has the patience of Job” without realizing what happened to Job. He was a biblical character, probably from the same era as Moses or earlier. In one day, he lost his family, servants and all his possessions. Soon after, his health was also taken. If patience is tested in troubles, Job faced a supreme test.
He did well in the beginning. When his wife suggested suicide or euthanasia as a way out and told him to “Curse God and die,” Job patiently replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
Was this true patience based on deep faith? Or was he in shock? God knew. Before his trouble began, Job’s faith was discussed in heaven. Satan challenged God with the insult that His people only trusted Him because He kept them safe from harm. God said, in effect, “Is that so?” He then allowed Satan to do whatever he wanted to Job, except take his life, to prove that genuine faith is not based on circumstances but on God’s own character.
As far as we know, Job never knew about this challenge. Although he started out well, his troubles multiplied. Not only did his wife fail to support him, his friends began accusing him. They were certain God would not have allowed this to happen to a righteous man. He must be punishing Job for some hidden, unconfessed sin.
Job was angry. He defended himself with sarcasm, his comments interlaced with groaning. Soon he was less verbal about his commitment to accept whatever God allowed and more vocal in his frustration and pain. However, as he ranted, not all his words were dark. His faith was deep and it wrestled with his feelings. In the midst of his complaining, he did affirm that God had a purpose. He declared, “When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”
Also, Job was determined that God was not punishing him. He didn’t know why this trouble happened but he knew he had kept short accounts with His maker. Even though many of his protests were aimed at God, he expressed trust: “Though He slays me, yet will I trust Him.”
Towards the end of the story, Job made one more defense of his life and clung to his conviction that he was innocent. Finally God broke His silence: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? ...Where were you when I created the world? ...Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?”
Job hung his head. “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know... My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
Genuine faith is able to confess sin and inadequacy. Job did not know everything, and, unlike his friends, he was able to admit it. God restored his health, wealth and family. He proved His point. Faith is enough — as long as it does not rest on our ability to believe but on the One who holds us secure.