Job 42: God restored his fortune — and then doubled it all.
Some people, probably the same ones who question Elihu’s contribution to the book of Job, question the conclusion of the book. They think it’s possibly an after-the-fact addition made by someone who felt the book was incomplete without Job’s restoration. Happily, as a devotional writer, I don’t have to take a stand on that. Instead, I can simply read and respond. I do understand where they’re coming from though. The main question, “will a man serve God for nothing” has been answered. The secondary issue, the question of human suffering, hasn’t been answered. Rather I’ve been taken in an unexpected direction to an unexpected conclusion. To finish the story with Job getting everything back does nothing to help us with either of the two primary issues raised in Job’s story. But again, I’m thinking devotionally here and not dealing so much with this sticky issue. So, what’s going on here? I believe that the reason Job is fully restored is that everything is taken from him for unnatural reasons. His loss of family, wealth, and health don’t “just happen.” They happen because Satan is given permission to take them from him. Once the test is over, that permission is withdrawn and God acts to return things to how they were. In other words, these are extraordinary circumstances all the way around. Most of the bad things that happen to us aren’t a result of Satan’s meddling in our lives. After all, it rains on the just and the unjust. We may be tested by such things, but they aren’t Satan-designed tests. Instead, they’re just life. That means that I can’t read the ending of the book of Job and conclude that if I handle my current difficulty of life okay I’ll get it all back, maybe double! When life “happens” and the plug is pulled simply because I live in a world where bad things happen to people, there’s no guarantee that, if I handle it well, it will all come back to me.
Take Away: This is an extraordinary story and we have to be careful to not take the more outstanding elements of it and conclude that that’s how things always are.