The book of Job is perhaps my least favorite book in the Bible. It speaks so much truth that it’s painful to read. It’s essentially a story about a guy who lives life by the book. He gets up on time. He brushes his teeth. He probably even flosses. Yet his life falls completely apart. He loses his family, his wealth, and even his health. He has nothing but his relationship with God, and even that begins to teeter toward the end.
The point of Job is this – sometimes the chaos and destruction in your life isn’t your fault. You may be doing all the right things. Making all the right choices. But things beyond your control are determining the outcome.
This really struck me as I’m still looking for a job. I’ve been looking for a job, in one format of another, for almost a full year. I’ve applied to dozens of positions, interviewed at a few, got to the last steps in a few more, and still nothing. I’ve always been a “successful” guy, well educated, blah blah blah. So this failure has been hard.
Yet not so nearly as hard as when friends and well-intentioned people say, “you haven’t found a job yet?!” As if there’s some huge magical supply of jobs sitting out there right now.
These comments are always meant to encourage, and they are meant to be supportive. But to me they remind me of my failure. Job’s friends meant to encourage him too. They sat there when everyone else abandoned him. But eventually they turned on him, wondering “what is his problem?”
That doubt seeped in Job’s life. He began to wonder what his problem was as well.
The truth was – nothing.
Nothing was wrong with Job’s life. Job’s life fell apart because of events outside of his control. God had allowed it to happen, in part, to teach us that failure isn’t always because we’ve sinned. Sometimes the reason we fail is because the world is fallen and broken.
Maybe my joblessness is my own fault. Maybe I need to be working harder to find a position. That’s a possibility. Or maybe there’s something else going on. Maybe something spiritual is occurring.
Of course none of this changes how I should react. If I need to work harder to find a job the best thing I can do is lean into God and trust him. If this is some form of spiritual warfare, the best thing I can do is lean into God and trust him.
To live a life of faith, I must do the same thing regardless of the specifics. That’s just how it is sometimes.
On the flip side, if you have a friend who’s in trouble, offer them support. Offer them some constructive criticism if that’s what’s needed (sometimes it is!). But don’t forget to focus on the warfare side. Some things are beyond our control and the best thing you can do is fight with them.