I like to write fiction novels, but plotting is not an easy task. When we look at Dictionary.com, it defines a plot as a secret plan or scheme to accomplish some purpose. It calls for throwing every obstacle possible at your character and seeing how he reacts. The most satisfying stories show the protagonist under the right amount of pressure until he changes or receives his reward.
(Before I begin, I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I am NOT saying that the Bible’s book of Job is a fictional story. Also, I am not inferring that God has constant meetings with Satan to discuss all the trials we undergo in our lifetimes. So, let’s put that aside.)
The other day while looking up a verse in Job, I noticed the faintest hint of a plot. Maybe it was my imagination, or perhaps God was showing me something. The book of Job opens with an interaction between God and Satan. It says, “The LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.’ The LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (See chapter 1:6-8.)
Job did not attend this meeting, nor did God send word that he would allow Satan to wreak havoc in his life. In one sitting, Job learns that the oxen and donkeys were attacked and kidnapped by the Sabeans. Seconds later, they kill the servants watching his chattel. After a few minutes, fire destroys his sheep. But Satan isn’t done. Satan sends the Chaldeans to kill Job’s camels and more servants. At that moment, a messenger delivers the news that a house fell, killing all of Job’s sons and daughters.
That’s brutal plotting.
But Job does not respond as one of my fictional characters would react. No. Job did not sin. Instead, he worshipped God. The reader can cheer and turn the page knowing that our main character has bested the antagonist.
Once again, God allows Satan to test Job, but this time on an intimate level. His health! Satan struck Job with painful boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. God’s servant, Job, becomes a pot of goo and scrapes his sores with broken pottery.
Then, Job’s wife speaks. A dangerous thing, indeed. Granted, his wife had suffered as much as Job, for she also lost their livestock, servants, and children. Blinded by her pain, she charges her husband to give up his integrity, curse God, and die for his heavy hand on them. But Job scolds his wife for talking foolishly. Once again, Job remains faithful.
Enter Job’s friends, who suggest to him that God is punishing him for sin. Job agrees there may have been sin in his life, but he reconciled those things with God, and his conscience is clear. The long-winded conversations argue the supposed unfairness of God’s discipline in Job’s suffering.
Yet, in a Dios es Machina moment, the clouds pull back, and we hear God speaking out of nowhere. God rebukes the ignorant ideas that tried to limit his reasonings for allowing hardships in Job’s life.
Finally, humbled by God’s questioning, Job must acknowledge his weakness. Job response is vital in chapter 40:4, “I am insignificant; what can I say in response to You?”
We are like Job, aren’t we? Out of ignorance, doubts arise, and we question God’s relationship with us. What we don’t see God doing and what we don’t know becomes the fodder for dangerous thinking. But Ecclesiastes 11:5 says, “Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.”
I have learned the painful lesson that when there is no specific reasoning for my suffering, I must rest in God’s righteousness and the expectation of deliverance. What happens behind the curtain is none of my business. Therefore, rejoice that God will always glorify himself in our lives, and no believer will be disgraced. Psalm 25:3 says, “Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed.”