Have the Endurance of Job Today
THE endurance of Job has long been proverbial. Do you have that kind of endurance? In this wicked old world, unless you want to become a quitter, you certainly will need it. How can you acquire it?
A great aid is to heed the counsel of the disciple James: “Brothers, take as a pattern of the suffering of evil and the exercising of patience the prophets, who spoke in the name of Jehovah. Look! We pronounce happy those who have endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome Jehovah gave, that Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.”—Jas. 5:10, 11.
Perhaps you are thinking, ‘Yes, but Job never really lived. Any allegorical or fictitious character can endure.’ But not so. Surely James would not insult our intelligence by telling us to imitate a character who never lived, would he? The fact that the Bible points to Job’s righteousness and links it with the righteousness of Noah and Daniel leaves no doubt that Job actually did live: “Had these three men proved to be in the midst of it, Noah, Daniel and Job, they themselves because of their righteousness would deliver [but] their soul.”—Ezek. 14:14.
“Endurance” has been defined as “ability to withstand hardship,” “the capacity for continuance under stress or affliction.” Certainly Job manifested endurance, and so most fittingly James sets him up as an example for us. In his day Job was “the greatest of all the Orientals.” He enjoyed good health, had a large and happy family, had great material possessions, was held in high esteem, and, above all, as a man of integrity, had the approbation of Jehovah, there being, in fact, not another man that could compare with him in this respect.—Job 1:1-8; 29:1-25.
And then, overnight, as it were, Job suffered a series of catastrophes that robbed or appeared to rob him of all these blessings. Blow upon blow rained upon his unprotected head, misfortune upon misfortune that he had no reason to expect.
But did Job get discouraged and quit? Did he follow his wife’s counsel, “Curse God and die”? No, he did not. He endured. And not only did he endure these things, but he held on to his integrity in spite of eight speeches made by those supposed friends of his who turned out to be his enemies, hypocrites in fact. “A true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress.” But these three turned on Job with questions such as this: “Is not your own badness too much already, and will there be no end to your errors?”—Job 2:9; Prov. 17:17; Job 22:5.
The record goes on to show that Jehovah God rewarded Job for his endurance, even as James notes, and, though having lived some thirty-five centuries ago, Job stands as a good example for all lovers of righteousness today; especially when these find themselves beset with similar hardship. Loss of one’s material possessions, of loved ones, of health and of friends are still the common lot of man.—Job 42:10-17.
What will enable you to endure these evils without becoming resentful, bitter or discouraged? Faith in God and in his promises. Job had such faith. In spite of all his suffering he “did not sin or ascribe anything improper to God.” He kept trusting God ‘even though God would slay him.’ Faith will enable you to endure, to continue “steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” Besides, has not God promised that in his due time, which is now very near, all suffering, all sorrow, pain and death will end? Having faith in such promises of God will give you hope, and hope will help you to endure.—Job 1:22; 13:15; Heb. 11:27; Rev. 21:4.
Prayer is another great aid to endurance. Job’s words show that his attitude was one of prayer; he pleaded with God, presenting his case to him. So, should adversity come your way, you may pray to have what is needful. Is it illness you have to endure? You may pray for wisdom to cope with your affliction and strength to endure it. Is your hardship persecution? Here also you may pray, not only for strength to endure, but for your persecutors, even as Jesus commanded: “Pray for those persecuting you,” and as he himself did when saying: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”—Matt. 5:44; Luke 23:34.
Another aid to your enduring is a knowledge and understanding of God’s purposes. Job did not know why God permitted him to suffer, but we today, by reason of having the account of Job and God’s light upon it, know why God permits the righteous to suffer, namely, to prove to the Devil as well as to all creation that he can have creatures that will remain faithful to him come what may. Job kept integrity without knowing about this reason. Certainly knowledge of it should help all lovers of righteousness to endure.—Job 1:7-12; 2:2-8.
And, above all, love will help you to endure. Love for God will help you to put up with what he permits, not rebelling or even complaining about it. Love will cause you to trust God as Job trusted him, always obeying him, for “this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.” And love for your neighbor will also help you to endure, to put up with him, be that neighbor a member of your own family, a member of your congregation or a fellow worker at your place of employment. If you truly love your neighbor you will also want to be setting him a good example by enduring and helping him to endure. “Love is long-suffering and kind. . . . It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”—1 John 5:3; 1 Cor. 13:4, 7.
Yes, among the many things that will aid you to endure are faith, prayer, knowledge and understanding, and love. Endurance is the course of wisdom. There is peace, comfort and an inner joy from knowing that you are enduring, bearing up under adversity because it is the right thing to do. Such endurance assures you of future reward: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.”—Matt. 24:13; Rom. 5:3, 4.