Handling Adversity

Step into the time tunnel with me and let’s travel together back to Uz (not like the wizard of, but like the land of). Wherever it was, Uz had a citizen who had the respect of everyone, because he was blameless, upright, God-fearing, and clean living. He had 10 children, lots of livestock, plenty of land, a houseful of servants, and a substantial stack of cash. No one would deny that he was “the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:3), for he had earned that reputation through years of hard work and honest dealings with others. His name was Job, a synonym for integrity and godliness.

Within a matter of hours he was, to quote Shakespeare’s line from The Comedy of Errors:

A wretched soul, bruised with adversity.1

Without announcement, adversity fell upon Job like an avalanche of jagged rocks. He lost his livestock, crops, land, servants, and—if you can believe it—all 10 children. Soon thereafter he lost his health, his last human hope of earning a living. I plead with you to stop reading, close your eyes for 60 seconds, and identify with that good man who was crushed beneath the weight of adversity.

The book that bears his name records an entry Job made in his journal soon after the rocks stopped falling. With a quivering hand he wrote:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (1:21)

Following this incredible statement, God added:

Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. (1:22)

Right about now, I’m shaking my head. I’m asking myself, “How in the world could he handle so calmly such a series of ordeals mixed with grief?” Think of the aftermath: bankruptcy, pain, 10 fresh graves . . . and the loneliness of those empty rooms. Yet we read that he worshiped God; he did not sin, nor did he blame his Maker.

The logical questions are: Why didn’t he? How could he keep from it? What kept him from bitterness or even thoughts of suicide? At the risk of oversimplifying the situation, I suggest three basic answers which I have discovered from searching through the book that bears his name.

First, Job claimed God’s loving sovereignty. He believed that the Lord who gave had every right to take away (1:21). In his own words he stated such:

“Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (2:10)

He looked up, claiming his Lord’s right to rule over his life. Who was the fool that said God has no right to add sand to our clay or marks to our vessel or fire to His workmanship? Who dared lift his clay fist heavenward and question the Potter’s plan? Not Job! To him, God’s sovereignty was interwoven with His love.

Second, Job counted on God’s promise of resurrection. Do you remember his immortal words:

“I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last . . .
. . . I shall see God.” (Job 19:25–26)

He looked ahead, counting on his Lord’s promise to make all things bright and beautiful in the life beyond. He knew that at that time all pain, death, sorrow, tears, and adversity would be removed. Knowing that “hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5), he endured today by envisioning tomorrow.

Third, Job confessed his own lack of understanding. What a relief this brings! He didn’t feel obligated to explain why. Listen to his honest admission:

“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. . . .
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful [too deep] for me, which I did not know. . . .
‘I will ask You, and You instruct me.’” (Job 42:2–4)

He looked within, confessing his inability to put it all together. He rested his adversity with God, not feeling forced to answer why.

Perhaps you are beginning to get bruised by falling rocks . . . maybe the avalanche has fallen . . . maybe not. Adversity may seem 10,000 miles away . . . as remote as the land of Uz. That’s the way Job felt a few minutes before he lost it all.

Review these thoughts as you turn out the lights tonight, my friend . . . just in case. Some pottery gets pretty fragile sitting in the sunshine day after day.

  1. William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, 2.1.34, in William Shakespeare: The Complete Works (New York: Dorset Press, 1988), 169.

Copyright © 2010 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc.

Posted in Bible Characters, Sexual Abuse, Special Needs and tagged , .

Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where he is able to do what he loves most—teach the Bible to willing hearts. His focus on practical Bible application has been heard on the Insight for Living radio broadcast since 1979.