Valley Experiences of Job

One of the most dramatic shifts from mountain to valley experience can be found in the life of Job. Within a short time, he lost his wealth, family and even health. None of these was due to any fault of Job. In fact, Job was a righteous man. So righteous that God boasts of him to Satan.

(Job 1:14-19 NIV)  a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, {15} and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” {16} While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” {17} While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” {18} While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, {19} when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

The first thing Job did was to come before God. When we are in the valley, we are often tempted to complain before men. But Job worshipped God.

(Job 1:20 NIV)  At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship…

It is very easy to worship God when you are in the mountain. But when Job went into the deepest valley of his life, he could still worship God. That is the true test of worship. Are you in the valley of your life? Why not worship God?

Worshipping God shifts our focus away from our problems and to God. It magnifies God to the point where our problems seem minor compared to the greatness of God. It reminds us of all the good things God had done for us in the past and put our situation in perspective. When we are in the valley, it is easy to come to the distorted conclusion that everything has gone wrong throughout our lives.

Job also submitted to the sovereignty of God. He acknowledged that God is God and it is His prerogative to do whatever He wants in our lives.

(Job 1:21 NIV)  and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

Later, when Job was inflicted with painful sores, he started to challenge the sovereignty of God.

(Job 3:1-3 NIV)  After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. {2} He said: {3} “May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, ‘A boy is born!’

When Job cursed the day of his birth, he is also challenging the will of God to have him born in the first place. Our valley experience can cause us to question God’s goodness and sovereignty. Later Job was rebuked for that.

When Job wished that he had never been born, he did it mindful of all the misfortune that had fallen on him. He might have forgotten the good that he had enjoyed prior to this. We may suppose that Job in his prosperity had many a time blessed God for the day of his birth, and reckoned it a happy day; yet now he brands it with all possible marks of infamy. When we are in the valley, do not let the valley experience cloud out our entire perspective. Remember to contemplate on our past blessings and give praise to God.

(Job 6:11 NIV)  “What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?

(Job 7:6 NIV)  “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope.

Job lost hope in the situation. That was why he wished God would take his life. He could not hope for the situation to turn out better and death seems to be the best choice. That is what drives people to suicide; they totally lost hope. When we are in the valley, it is so important not to lose hope and cling on to the promises of God that what we are going through will work out for good (Rom 8:28).

Job also lost the strength to go through the valley experience. It is indeed tiring when we are put in trials. We need to constantly ask God to strengthen us.

(Job 7:11 NIV)  “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Job did not bottle his grief within himself. He poured out his grief to God and told God how he felt about the situation. God wants us to be honest with Him. We cannot hide anything from Him in the first place.

In the midst of his suffering, Job sees God as being unfair. He sees the wicked prospering while he is suffering despite being a righteous man. Yet he understands that while the wicked may be at the mountain, their situation is only temporary and Job would have nothing to do with that kind of success.

(Job 21:7-18 NIV)  Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? {8} They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes. {9} Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not upon them. {10} Their bulls never fail to breed; their cows calve and do not miscarry. {11} They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about. {12} They sing to the music of tambourine and harp; they make merry to the sound of the flute. {13} They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace. {14} Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. {15} Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’ {16} But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked. {17} “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? How often does calamity come upon them, the fate God allots in his anger? {18} How often are they like straw before the wind, like chaff swept away by a gale?

One of the most difficult parts of Job’s valley experience is that he does not know why all this calamity is falling on him. When trials get tougher and tougher, it becomes harder and harder to yield to God’s sovereignty. Initially Job could say that what God gives He has the right to take away. Later he strives to know why God is doing all these things to harm him. Yet he got no answer from God.

(Job 23:3-5 NIV)  If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! {4} I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. {5} I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say.

(Job 24:8-9 NIV)  They are drenched by mountain rains and hug the rocks for lack of shelter. {9} The fatherless child is snatched from the breast; the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.

Somehow Job knows that his valley experience is a test and when he comes through, he will shine forth as gold. Many of our valley experiences are indeed tests to see whether we would still obey God when everything has gone wrong. That tests our most basic motivation. When we obey God only when things are going right, we are obeying God for our selfish purpose and not because we love Him and fear His name.

(Job 23:10-12 NIV)  But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.  {11} My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. {12} I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

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{cke_protected_3}{cke_protected_4} {cke_protected_5}Instead of answering Job’s question directly, God asks Job a series of questions that no human could possibly answer. Job responds by recognizing that God’s ways are best. During difficult times, we, too, must humbly remember our position before the eternal, holy, incomprehensible God.

(Job 38:3-5 NIV)  Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. {4} “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. {5} Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?

To acknowledge God’s sovereignty means that you accept the fact that God can do whatever He likes. He can do whatever He likes not because He has the right to be sadistic but because whatever He does is for our good anyway.

(Rom 8:28 NIV)  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

What God does in our life, we may not understand. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways.

(Isa 55:9 NIV)  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We need to submit to God’s sovereignty and trust that He knows what He is doing and that He only has plans to prosper us and not to harm us (Jer 29:11).

(Job 40:3-5 NIV)  Then Job answered the LORD: {4} “I am unworthy–how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. {5} I spoke once, but I have no answer– twice, but I will say no more.”

In response to God’s speech, Job humbles himself. Job’s material possessions and family are restored, and he receives even greater blessings than he had before. Those who persist in trusting God will be rewarded.

(Job 42:10-13 NIV)  After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. {11} All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. {12} The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. {13} And he also had seven sons and three daughters.