Dealing With Disaster: Lessons From Job

by Joe Plemon on September 3, 2010

Job was a very wealthy man; a good man who suffered greatly – not only losing his riches, but also his children and his health. His so-called friends told him it must be his own fault and his wife urged him to turn his back on God.

Can you identify with Job? Have you lost your job? Have your investments tanked? Have your friends blamed you for things that you didn’t do? Does your spouse misunderstand you?

If so, Job’s story is one that will help. Yes, he suffered tremendously, but his health and his wealth and even his happiness were given back to him. Job is a testimony that terrible times can have wonderful endings.

We can gain some powerful lessons from this story of hope:

  • Storms will come.

Sometimes we bring them on ourselves. One with a gambling addiction shouldn’t be surprised when his life savings disappears. Those who drive and drink are asking for catastrophic results. But how about that unexpected layoff or that cancer that no one could have foreseen or that stroke that attacked your spouse? Like Job, you did absolutely nothing to bring these things into your life, but they came anyway.

  • You may never understand why.

Much of the book of Job is an exercise in the futility of trying to understand why he suffered. He finally got his answer: he will never understand. Why? Because he is not God. I realize that this answer is not what many of us want when disaster strikes, but it is a good answer because we finite humans, unlike God, do not have the capacity to know everything. Our challenge, therefore, is to simply trust an all knowing and loving God who sees the big picture.

  • Be prepared.

Financially speaking, you prepare for storms by getting out of debt and building your emergency fund. While these are basic safeguards, some adversities cut deeper than financial loss – we also need strong character. In his conversation with Satan (curious? Read it in Job 1:7-12), God describes Job as a man of complete integrity…a man who fears God and avoids evil. What can we learn from Job? To develop integrity WHILE THINGS ARE GOING WELL. You can’t fix your roof during the storm so take steps now to prepare for that storm.

  • Don’t follow bad advice.

Job’s friends urged him to repent of something he never did. His wife told him to “curse God and die”. Neither was good advice and Job wisely ignored both. When disaster hits, well meaning people may offer advice. Some may be good and some not so good, but ultimately you are responsible for your response to this advice. Be discerning like Job was.

  • Learn from your experience.

Job learned that he will never understand God, but he learned much more. When stripped of every possession, every relationship and nearly life itself, Job experienced a revelation of life – an “aha” moment. Speaking to God, he declares “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my eyes.” (Job 42:5). It is during the most difficult times of our lives, when we have absolutely nothing to cling to, that we experience God in profound ways. Mysteriously, the depths of adversity and the heights of joy are polarities that grab the very core of our emotions and change us forever. Don’t shield your emotions; experience them and you, like Job, will never be the same.

  • Never give up.

The closing verses of Job tell us that God restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as before. He lived to see four generations of his children and grandchildren and he died in old age, living a long, full life. The temptation to give up can be overwhelmingly strong, but the lesson from Job is to not do so. As long as you have life, God has a purpose for your life. That purpose includes good things for you. Give him a chance to work those good things in your life.

Closing thoughts

Storms come. When Jesus challenged us to build our houses on rock, he wasn’t saying “IF the storms come” but “WHEN the storms come”. Job teaches us that we may never understand why the storms come, but we can not only endure, but grow as a result of the storms.

Everyone reading this has been through storms. How did the last one impact your life? If you in the middle of one right now, how are you coping?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol@inthetrenches September 3, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Thanks Joe for reminding us that the Bible has all the answers we need to get through personal and financial questions and difficulties. We want to think we can “fix” everything but like Job we sometimes need to just trust God and let things play out according to His purposes.

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joeplemon September 3, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Carol,
You are exactly right. We try to fix our messes (and we probably should), but there are times when we are absolutely helpless before the Lord and those can be some of the most profound times we will ever experience. Trust, as you said, is the key. I learned much from Job in writing this post.

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Invest It Wisely September 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm

I like the points that you bring up here, Joe. If your house isn’t already sturdy by the time the storms approach, then it’s usually a little too late to start patching things up! However, even in the aftermath of the storm, it is always possible to rebuild and start anew. The good thing about hopeless situations is that it’s not usually possible for things to get any worse! 😛

I think that everything flows from the connection to one’s mind and body. Work on banishing harmful thoughts and work on your physical fitness, and other things will follow in place. We can’t control the external events that happen, but we can be better prepared. Good for Job for not succumbing to the negativity around him.

Another great post, Joe!

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joeplemon September 4, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Kevin,
I always appreciate the thought you put into your comments. It is clear that you think through what I am trying to say before you respond. Thanks.

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