You have probably heard this phrase frequently. When someone seems to be able to tolerate what seems to be intolerable they are often told, “You have the patience of Job” Although I don’t consider myself a very patient person, I have been told that I have the patience of Job. Here’s the thing. I think we miss some of the elements of the patience of Job. We have the tendency to idealize that he never complained, never got angry. If that was the case, not even Job had the patience of Job.
Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. The key words for me in this statement, without getting angry or upset and the fact that there are no screams, lamps flying or inappropriate language doesn’t mean a person is not angry or upset.
I’ve read the book of Job a little over three times. There are passages where I pushed my bible to the side fearing that just the fact that I read some of his remarks towards God was going to make a thunder come down from the skies. Here are some examples but you have to read the book, there are a lot more:
- Job 3:11 “Why didn’t I die at birth, my first breath out of the womb my last?”
- Job 6: 8-9 “All I want is an answer to one prayer, a last request to be honored:
Let God step on me—squash me like a bug, and be done with me for good”
- Job 7: 11-16 ““And so I’m not keeping one bit of this quiet, I’m laying it all out on the table;
my complaining to high heaven is bitter, but honest. Are you going to put a muzzle on me,
the way you quiet the sea and still the storm? If I say, ‘I’m going to bed, then I’ll feel better.
A little nap will lift my spirits,’ you come and so scare me with nightmares
and frighten me with ghosts that I’d rather strangle in the bedclothes
than face this kind of life any longer. I hate this life! Who needs any more of this?
Let me alone! There’s nothing to my life—it’s nothing but smoke.”
- Job 9:21-24“Believe me, I’m blameless. I don’t understand what’s going on.
I hate my life! Since either way it ends up the same, I can only conclude
that God destroys the good right along with the bad. When calamity hits and brings sudden death, he folds his arms, aloof from the despair of the innocent. He lets the wicked take over running the world; he installs judges who can’t tell.”
- Job 10:1 “I can’t stand my life—I hate it! I’m putting it all out on the table, all the bitterness of my life—I’m holding back nothing.”
- Job 16:8-10 “God, you have wasted me totally—me and my family! You’ve shriveled me like a dried prune, showing the world that you’re against me. My gaunt face stares back at me from the mirror, a mute witness to your treatment of me. Your anger tears at me, your teeth rip me to shreds, your eyes burn holes in me—God, my enemy!”
- Job 17:6 “God, you’ve made me the talk of the town—people spit in my face”
- Job 21:4 “It’s not you I’m complaining to—it’s God. Is it any wonder I’m getting fed up with his silence?”
- Job 23:1“I’m not letting up—I’m standing my ground. My complaint is legitimate. God has no right to treat me like this— it isn’t fair!”
- Job 30:20-23 “I shout for help, God, and get nothing, no answer! I stand to face you in protest, and you give me a blank stare! You’ve turned into my tormenter—you slap me around, knock me about. You raised me up so I was riding high and then dropped me, and I crashed. I know you’re determined to kill me, to put me six feet under.”
So once again, if your image of the patience of Job is this quiet guy who took everything in longsuffering not getting ever upset, go read the book again, that was not in the one I read. I don’t know about you but I read a lot of griping and complaining. If someone is saying constantly that he hates his life that is someone who is upset.
I’m not saying this to down Job. He was patient and truly waited on God. He endured everything that happened to him, but he vented and complained quite often. Don’t ever feel that when you bring your sorrows to the Lord it means that you are not trusting God. When you feel the need to vent to God, don’t think that you can’t. If God is our everything, it means HE will also be THE ONE to whom we should go with our heartaches, anxieties and pain.
One of the things I admire about Job is that he always knew that his life depended on God. He knew he was feeble and that God was sovereign. He never cursed at God, he kept his faith through losing it all and he lost it all. He lost his wife, his sons, all his earthly possessions, his friends and even his health. When I say he lost it all, he lost it ALL; but his faith.
So at least in my case, I may have some of the patience of Job. I whine and whine and complaint knowing that God is there. I give it all to him, but I still say “God is not fair” and God says it’s true, I never said life was fair, but I am fair.
I don’t only want to have the patience of Job. I also want to have his faith and endurance to be able to Praise the Lord no matter what comes my way.
Food for thought.