Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a sermon on Psalm 63:3 (“Your steadfast love is better than life”) paraphrased God’s posture toward the psalmist: “If you want my mercy, then let me gain the victory over you; if you want my life, than let me hate and destroy that which is evil in you; if you want my goodness, then let me take your life.” These words lay before the saint a radical paradigm shift to make. For good to come, the child of God must find his way to God’s perspective – even in the midst of suffering. The final lesson on counseling we can glean from Job concerns our attitude toward God in the midst of suffering. Over the course of the narrative, Job’s attitude toward God undergoes dynamic change, from an initial refusal to blame God (Job 1:22) to a growing suspicion of God’s injustice (Job 9:22b), culminating with a final capitulation in humble awe (Job 40:4). Though Job’s character evolves, a recurring theme in the book is the vital importance of correct thinking about God in the midst of suffering, all which lead us to our final principle on counseling from Job:
Principle #3: Good Counselors Encourage Right Thinking about God in the Midst of Suffering
Although the conversation between Job and his friends constitutes the vast majority of the book, one must consider the fallibility of each character’s verbal testimony. The development of the book points to the final reply by God as the infallible climax of the story, the testimony that judges all that has been previously said.
With this truth in mind, Job’s initial response to the loss of his children and all he possessed is instructive. Immediately after the occurrence of the tragedy, Job assumes a posture of humble shame and worships God (Job 1:20). In the midst of his loss, the central importance of his relationship with God is not forgotten. Continue reading Better Counseling through Job the Patriarch (Part 3)