By Ai Xue
I believe each of us Christians is familiar with Job’s story in the Bible. His entire conduct during the trials has inspired generation after generation of Christians, and he set an exemplar for all of us to follow. Today I’d like to talk with everyone about an extraordinary quality Job revealed during the trials—his rationality. At the mention of rationality, everyone, I believe, knows its importance, otherwise there wouldn’t be the saying “Impulse is from the devil.” Then, how can we Christians possess the same rationality as Job? Now let’s seek for the way from his conduct in trials.
Job lost all of his children and wealth.
The Bible says, “And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house: And there came a messenger to Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the Sabeans fell on them, and took them away; yes, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell you. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and has burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell you. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell on the camels, and have carried them away, yes, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell you. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell you” (Job 1:13-19).
From these verses we can see that, in just one day, Job’s livestock that filled the mountains was robbed or burned to destruction, his servants were killed, and all of his children were crushed to death by the collapsed house. These calamities, like a violent storm, struck Job one after another without any warning. Although we don’t see these scenes with our eyes, it is not hard to imagine how tragic and horrible they were from these accounts of the Bible. As outsiders, none of us want to see such tragedies, much less experience them. But as the victim of these calamities, how did Job behave when faced with them?
How did Job behave during the trials?
It is recorded in the Bible, “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:20-22).
These verses give a true description of how Job reacted in the face of trials, while also showing us his aspirations and reverence for God. Faced with such great trials, Job didn’t misunderstand or complain against God, nor did he abandon God or gather his servants together to get his property back relying on his hot blood. Instead, he rent his mantle, shaved his head, and then praised God’s holy name. These reactions of Job show us his rationality exceeds that of any other normal person. If such trials befall us, I’m sure none of us is able to behave the way he did. Perhaps some people disagree with me, and they may argue, “Since we haven’t experienced these trials in person, isn’t it too soon to make such a judgment?” Well, in response to this question, I’d like you to recall how we usually react when unfavorable things befall us in daily life: When we lose something valuable or have our interests damaged, we will always brood about them and make constant complaints; when any of our family members falls ill but doesn’t get better quickly after we pray to God, we will misunderstand and complain against God. Obviously, our stature is too small, even unworthy of mention, and our rationality simply cannot compare with Job’s. So at this point, don’t you think that such rationality of Job is very precious and worthy of our emulation?
How did Job achieve such precious rationality?
While admiring Job for his rationality, some of you may ask how Job achieved such rationality. As to this question, I once read a book where I got the answer. The book says, “Job’s actual experiences and his upright and honest humanity meant that he made the most rational judgment and choices when he lost his assets and his children. Such rational choices were inseparable from his daily pursuits and the deeds of God that he had come to know during his day-to-day life. Job’s honesty made him able to believe that Jehovah God’s hand rules over all things; his belief allowed him to know the fact of Jehovah God’s sovereignty over all things; his knowledge made him willing and able to obey Jehovah God’s sovereignty and arrangements; his obedience enabled him to be more and more true in his fear of Jehovah God; his fear made him more and more real in his shunning of evil; ultimately, Job became perfect because he feared God and shunned evil; and his perfection made him wise, and gave him the utmost rationality” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II”).
After reading these words, I came to understand that it is mainly due to his daily pursuits and the deeds of God that he had come to know during his everyday life that he could behave rationally and stand witness in the trial of losing his children and property. From the accounts in the Bible, we can see that in daily life Job frequently offered burnt sacrifices, walking in the way of God—fearing God and shunning evil. He not only worshiped God himself, but also regularly sent and sanctified his children, reminding them not to indulge in life’s pleasure. Meanwhile, in his daily life, he paid attention to observing God’s deeds among all things, through which he gradually gained knowledge of God’s authority and sovereignty, and thus came to know that his great wealth didn’t come from his own labors, but was bestowed by God. His fear of God and his knowledge of God’s authority enabled him to remain rational in trials—he was not only able to give thanks to God for giving to him, but also able to obey His taking away from him and bow down to worship Him without any conditions, reasons or complaints.
What enlightenment can we get from Job’s experience?
From Job’s experience, we can know that to possess the rationality of Job, we need to start from everything that happens to us in daily life. No matter what people, matters, or objects we encounter every day, be they to our liking or not, we should accept them from God, calm down and pray to God to seek His will in arranging them and how to practice in a way that is in accordance with His requirements. Even if in the moment we can’t thoroughly understand the situation that befalls us, we should learn to seek and wait forto be revealed to us. As long as we practice this way, we will gradually witness more of God’s deeds and become increasingly obedient, and we will naturally change more and more into someone with rationality. At that time, even if we might encounter things that are especially incompatible with our conceptions and imaginations, we will be able to behave rationally in trials as Job did, stand witness for God and finally gain His praise and blessings.