Satan would have none of it.
The Lord had said to him, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’ But Satan thought he knew better. He had Job all figured out: ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.’ The goodness that the Lord admired in Job was only skin deep, so Satan accused. Job was only careful to keep in with God simply because it paid to do so.
What is more, Satan would prove it! ‘Stretch out your hand,’ he said to God, ‘and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’ But Job didn’t curse God. When God permitted Satan to afflict him so fearfully, his response amazingly was to give praise to God. And though he certainly had his struggles afterwards, Job kept clinging to God until his time of trial was over.
It is a beautiful picture of what grace can do. Job’s holiness wasn’t rooted in mere self-interest, as Satan cynically alleged. He was what he was because God had changed his heart. And if in the same way God has changed our hearts, the result will be the same. Let our temporal blessings all be taken away and we will still love God.
Henry Venn (1724-1797) told his children one day that he would take them that evening to see ‘one of the most interesting sights in the world.’ I give the story in the words of his son—
‘They were anxious to know what it was, but he deferred gratifying their curiosity until he had brought them to the scene itself. He led them to a miserable place, whose ruinous walls and broken windows spoke of extreme poverty and need. ‘Now’, he said, ‘my dear children, can anyone that lives in such a wretched place as this still be happy? But that is not all; a poor young man lies upon a miserable straw bed inside, dying of disease at the age of only nineteen, consumed with constant fever and afflicted with nine painful ulcers.’
He then led them into the cottage and, addressing the poor dying young man, said, ‘Abraham Midwood, I have brought my children here to show them that it is possible to be happy in a state of disease, poverty and need; and now, please tell them if it is true.’
The dying young man, with a smile of kindness and godliness, immediately replied, ‘Oh, yes Sir! I would not change my state with that of the richest person on earth, who was without the views which I possess. Blessed be God! I have a good hope through Christ of being admitted into those blessed regions where Lazarus now dwells, having long forgotten all his sorrows and misery. Sir, that is nothing to bear while the presence of God cheers my soul and while I can have access to Him through prayer and faith in Jesus. Indeed, sir, I am truly happy, and I trust to be happy and blessed through eternity. I thank God every hour, who has brought me from a state of darkness into His marvelous light, and has given me to enjoy the unsearchable riches of His grace.’ Venn’s son then adds, ‘The impression made by this discourse upon his young hearers will never be erased’. (Letters of Henry Venn, pp. 33-40)
What had the children seen? What Satan apparently did not believe possible, that a believer can be stripped of all the good things of this life and still bless the Lord. But such is the power of grace. Believers have known it in every age. We may trust the Lord that it will be equally sufficient for us.
– David Campbell