The Patience of Job (Part 1 of 2)
I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine,
There’s gotta be a little rain sometimes.
—Lynn Anderson, Rose Garden
I sat at my desk re-reading the Document Control and Change Management Process Guide for the umpteenth time that afternoon. Even though the process manual was coming together nicely, I felt it was taking much too long to finish—every time I typed the last period, another flaw in the procedure would jump out from behind a paragraph and yell “boo.” I leaned forward, determined to clear up the lingering confusion. I sighed. I’d been polishing the document for at least a week, but it hadn’t yet taken a shine.
Chad, the owner of the company, looked up from his computer. I’d been working for him as a contract electronic designer for over three years, and recently he’d asked me if I’d be willing to take on more hours. He’d rebuilt the eight-year-old business from the ground up, a nascent phoenix rising from the ashes of the Great Recession. I’d accepted the increased workload without question, recognizing not only the opportunity to help Chad rebuild his company, but also the chance to witness God’s outpouring of supernatural provision.
“I need your opinion on something,” Chad said. He then asked for my input on one facet of his company vision. I welcomed the break, and after we’d chatted for a couple of minutes, the conversation turned toward one of my favorite subjects: trust. “To make this business work we’re going to have to find people we can trust. I trust you,” he assured, “but I’m still going to ask you a lot of questions.” Having worked in the defense industry for 27 years, I could relate—the Government overseers with whom I’d worked occasionally reminded us that their job was to “trust but verify.” Having stepped out in faith and obedience to write a book full time, I could relate even more. As King Solomon advised his son in Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV):
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
It’s all a God thing, as I like to say. But trust takes a bunch of patience, the patience of Job.
Despite the outward manifestation of God’s faithfulness over the years, trust and I are still awkward partners in this life’s dance. For the past couple of decades, trust in both God and myself has grown, not like a cottonwood—fast and weak, subject to cracking and breaking under extreme conditions—but like a pecan tree—slow, strong and resilient. And after years of lifting my branches toward heaven, I’m bearing fruit—a bumper crop—the first of many to come. I recognize that, yet …
As Chad and I talked, the subject of patience, especially in the financial realm, followed on the heels of trust. “It’s hard to be patient when all you see is red,” Chad reflected. “But we just need to stay the course.” Definitely easier said than done. If trust and I are still uneasy dance partners, patience and I are continuing sparring buddies. In my book, The Epiphany of Joy, I mentioned that I once asked God, “What’s my worst sin?”
“Impatience,” He answered immediately. The response came with no hesitation.
What’s that saying? “If you don’t like the answer, don’t ask the question.”
I carry around the infractions of my impatience like a well-worn but ever-growing rap sheet. I’ve wrecked cars because of my impatience. I’ve lost money—lots and lots of money—because of impatience. I’ve missed countless opportunities to grow and learn because of impatience. I’m impatient with the pace of God’s financial outpouring. I’m impatient with the rate of acceleration of my writing career. I’m impatient with myself. If the wages of sin is death, then the salary of impatience is regret. I’d do well to write the words of Charlotte Bronte across the chalkboard of my heart: “Remorse is the poison of life.”
We talk about the patience of Job, how he endured Satan’s relentless attacks against his family, property and health while never cursing God. We talk about how he endured the persistent and sometimes foolish judgment of his so-called friends and how he remained convinced that God’s wrath (in reality Satan’s tempting and God’s testing) was unfounded and unfair. But this story is really about the patience (and mercy) of God rather than the patience of Job. Job, though blameless in God’s eyes, was not without sin. The poor guy was in denial:
So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God.
—Job 32:1-2 NKJV
The sin Job didn’t recognize was his own self-righteousness. Only after God stepped in and wire brushed him did Job finally open his heart, repent and relinquish all to his Creator. And after Job did as God commanded—praying for his friends—God restored his wealth and his position: “And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10 NKJV).
Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes