The Book of Job: a Lesson in Psychology
The Patience of Job
A Biblical Story
The Book of Job appears in what Christians call the "Old" Testament. Although some religious people insist the book was written by God, some scholars feel it was written by Hebrew writers.
God and Satan met together and had a talk about Job. God insisted that no matter what, Job would maintain his strong religious faith, but the Devil thought otherwise. God gave the Devil power over Job's body and his family and possessions. The Devil believed that if all Job held dear was destroyed, it would destroy his faith in God as well.
The Devil did take away all of Job's possessions, then had all his children killed, and finally left Job in dire straits with serious health problems.
"Fear" rather than "love" of God always was emphasized in the Old Testament. God did not intervene in Satan's plan to destroy Job's faith. Although Job cursed "the day of his birth" and wanted to die, he kept faith in God.
Job was advised by a friend that "wrath kills a foolish man, and envy slays a simple one" and that "man is born to trouble." Job's friends thought he deserved what he got because he must have done something wrong and was being punished.
Job asked God why God could not pardon Job's transgressions. As Job anticipated his own death, another friend spoke encouragingly that "God will not cast away the blameless, nor will He uphold the evildoers." Still, these friends believed Job was being punished for something.
Insisting he was innocent, Job could not understand why God allowed such tragedy in his life. He said, "My soul loathes my life." He didn't realize it was the Devil who did these things to him, after God had expressed confidence in the strength of Job's faith and gave the Devil power over Job's life in order to prove to the Devil that he couldn't destroy Job's faith.
Another friend encouraged Job to overcome his misery through his faith in God. But Job believed God hated him. Nevertheless, he thought that God did exist and that after Job died, he would see God.
Job tells his friends they are trying to reason with him using "empty words." Job found new depths of faith, declaring that God "saw wisdom" and advised mankind that "fear of the Lord...is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding." Job had the true fear of God in him as he declared, "Destruction from God is a terror to me, and because of His magnificence I cannot endure."
After this, the three friends saw that Job was righteous. They stopped talking to him. But another man, who overheard Job's declaring his own innocence, thought that Job was wrong in trying to justify himself instead of God.
All of Job's friends were very sophisticated, making criticisms in an effort to perfect absolute religious faith, unlike the ideal of simple, childish innocence that also shows a love of God.
Suddenly God spoke to Job in Chapter 38 near the end of the book, asking, "Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge," referring to the counseling of Job's friends. God was clearly putting mankind in its humble, lowly place by comparison to God Almighty who created the universe. God asked, "Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?"
After this supreme criticism of Job and his friends, Job repented. God then restored everything back to Job and blessed him with happiness for the rest of his life, all through it to his final days.
As always in the Bible, faith in God was rewarded. It is the constant message of the Bible in both Old and New Testaments.
Trials of Endurance
Testing One's Faith
Some people look forward to circumstances that will test their faith. This is because they know their faith is strong enough to endure.
Religious people have stood firm when encountering difficulties that make them doubt their faith in God. Sometimes it takes a lot of patience to get through a difficult period in life that seems endless. Such was the experience of Job.
But faith has proven to be more valuable than money or property. It can overcome any obstacle. Saint James especially is known for his faith in perseverance. It takes a lot of patience to endure some of life's trials.
Strength and wisdom are attributes that help get through tough times and keep faith despite discouraging events. By testing oneself, one's faith is revealed and proven.