Righteous living does tend to bring its own rewards, but it doesn’t protect people from suffering or hardship.
The story of Job is a fantastical poem of God making a bet with Satan, but it was written in the Bible to teach a real-life lesson.
Job is a rich man living with his large family and extensive flocks.
Job is “blameless” and “upright,” always careful to avoid doing evil.
Yet, Job receives news that his livestock, servants, and ten children have all died due to marauding invaders or natural catastrophes. He goes on to lose his health, looks, and friends.
Job is miserable, but can now better empathize with other people’s pain.
Despite accusations of sin, Job begins to understand that bad things happen to good people. That being “good” doesn’t protect you from tragedy. He learns that horrible things happen to innocent people all the time. He sees it in his own story and in the world. He realizes that it is an illusion to believe that if you do good you will always be “blessed” with good fortune.
He realizes that justice in this world does not exist in terms of suffering and ease. The world is filled with injustice. It is erroneous to believe that people always bring upon themselves their own suffering, or that their suffering is equal to the exactness of what they deserve.
Job’s friends suggest he must be a sinner and his children must have brought their deaths upon themselves through their own erroneous actions, but Job knows it isn’t true.
This teaches us that our sufferings or ease in life are not the point and we shouldn’t get too attached and reliant upon our current conditions. We also shouldn’t judge others, assuming they have brought their own hardships or misery upon themselves through bad decisions because we don’t know their whole story.
We learn from Job that meaning needs to come from something other than how well we are prospering.
“Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return,” states Job.
Job continues to praise God because that is all that really matters in the end- our relationship with God and His love.
Job learns that we can’t fully understand or comprehend God, but Job decides to persist in pursuing wisdom by staying loyal to God and avoiding evil. Besides some confusion and lamenting, he decides to fully accept whatever circumstances he finds himself in.
In the story- Job is materially rewarded in the end by God, perhaps to symbolize an eternal reward, but this may or may not be someone else’s story. Whether or not we prosper or suffer, God’s love, comfort, and sustenance are always there if we tune into His presence and work to show that love to others.
- The Story of Job/Old Testament