Understanding Job

By Carrie Ward

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21

After a little more than two years of reading the Bible, the children and I arrived at the book of Job. When I say that Job was difficult, that might be an understatement. Job can be a hard book for adults to sift through, but reading this book to children was especially tough.

The book begins by describing Job’s remarkable wealth and his righteous character. Then suddenly we are transported to a scene in heaven and told of a significant conversation between the Lord and Satan. (A conversation not revealed to Job, by the way.) Satan is, at that point, allowed to test Job, and in this testing Job loses virtually all that he has. The first chapter concludes with Job’s amazing response to his situation.

Then we come to chapter two, where God allows Satan to test Job still further by attacking his health. When Job’s friends hear of all Job’s adversity, the Bible says, “they made an appointment to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.” When they arrive, they are so grieved by Job’s appearance that they take on the posture of mourning and sit with him on the ground for seven days and nights without saying a word.

So far it’s a riveting story, right? These first two chapters are completely captivating—the kind of reading that keeps you on the edge of your seat and wanting more.

Sure, but then comes thirty-five chapters (count ’em: thirty-five!) of extensive, extensive diatribes as Job and his friends discuss and discuss and discuss Job’s circumstances. Without a doubt, God gave us these thirty-five chapters, and there is much to be learned from this discussion. However, reading and searching for understanding of these chapters with small children can be incredibly arduous. Not too far into these thirty-five chapters, my daughter Maggie sighed and said, “Can we please read something else? He keeps saying the same thing over and over again.”

In an effort to keep my children’s attention and encourage them to press on, I began to tell them, “God is going to speak. Soon God is going to speak.” Of course, I started saying this about chapter 10. When does He finally speak? God speaks in chapter 38. Day after day, I would proclaim again, “Hang in there just a little while longer. God is going to speak.”

Then the day finally came when God was going to speak. We had, at long last, reached chapter 38. My children were mesmerized. They, along with Job, had been waiting for what seemed like forever for God to have His say, and now it was finally going to happen. I began with “Today is the day that God speaks.” There was complete silence. I actually had their undivided attention. Then I read the Lord’s answer to Job. All eyes were fixed on me as I read:

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! . . .

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? . . .

“Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place? . . .

“Have you entered into the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? . . .

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail?”

I was about two-thirds into the chapter when Benjamin, only two-and-a-half, quietly asked, “Can we sing ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’?”

For a moment I was speechless. Like a typical mom, I was about to cry. In his childlike way, he understood the passage! He understood that God does have the whole world in His hands, even Job with all his trouble.

Excerpted from Together: Growing Appetites for God

Originally posted 12.11.12 at