|JOB'S SCHOOL OF SUFFERING
Eddie & Alice Smith
I AM REVEALED
Jan 01 2012
Don't pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.
Corrie Ten Boom
The crisp, cold morning air stings our lungs as we struggle to traverse the stony, briar-filled path toward the mountain's
summit. The sun's rays are just beginning to peek over the horizon when suddenly the silence is pierced by a cry of
agony. It's not a cry of pain. It's a cry of prayer. Even now we can almost hear Job praying.
The unknown author of the ancient Book of Job begins the book by introducing us to Job, the main character. Job was
a blameless and upright man who feared God and hated evil (Job 1:1). He is said to have been the greatest man
among the people of the East.
Job was an intercessory advocate for his children. Early each morning, Job would go to God on their behalf. Faithfully,
he sacrificed burnt offerings for them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts"
(verse 5). In effect, he was fervently interceding in prayer, pleading their cases before the very throne of God as a
defense attorney might plead their cases in court.
We don't find the word advocate in the Old Testament. We do, however, find instances of advocacy. For example,
Abraham interceded with God for the city of Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33); Samuel stood in the gap for the children of
Israel (I Samuel 7:8-9). Other examples of advocacy can be found in Jeremiah 14:7-9, 13, 19-22; Ezekiel 8; and Amos 7:
One day, as the angels presented themselves to the Lord, Satan entered Judge Jehovah's courtroom with them. The
Lord asked Satan where he had been. He explained that he had been "roaming through the earth and going back and
forth in it" (Job 1:7). Here, in Satan's own words, is his admission that he, unlike God, is not omnipresent.
Of course, God knew what Satan had been up to. Thousands of years later, the apostle Peter would explain "Be self-
controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (I Peter 5:
8). As a hungry lion scans the herd, looking for the weak and the lame, Satan was scouring the earth for someone to
victimize. God was well aware of his tactics.
The Judge, always the master strategist, was laying a subtle trap for His archenemy when He asked Satan, "Have you
considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and
shuns evil" (Job 1:8).
God knows His enemy's strengths and weaknesses. Satan's greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. He is
called "the accuser" (Revelation 12:10). Immediately, he began to accuse Job. Satan unjustly questioned Job's
integrity. He accused Job of selfishness by suggesting that Job loved and served God only because of God's blessings:
house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have
increased in the land. But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your
face." (Job 1:9-11, NRSV)
In the length of three short Bible verses, Job, an effective and faithful defense attorney for his own children, becomes
Job the defendant! It's a complete role reversal. Prepare yourself for a similar experience. There are times when we
will be faithfully praying for friends who are going through trials, and then, without warning, we are the ones on trial!
Overnight, we are in need of advocacy ourselves! Let's learn from the experience of Job.
You may recall that God allowed Satan certain liberties with Job - short of taking his life. He lost his children, his wealth,
his health, and his friends. Job experienced a serious trial. Most of our trials are like Sunday school picnics by
comparison. According to God's sovereign design, Job was to become an example to men and women throughout
history. Job, it could be argued, suffered more than anyone other than our Savior. But Job did not lose his commitment
to the God he loved!
Once we see how trials become our friends, we shouldn't falter in our commitment to the Lord, either. As traveling
musicians, we used to sing "I've Got Confidence," André Crouch's catchy song about Job. The song talks about how
Job lost his possessions and his health. His seven sons and three daughters were killed in a freakish windstorm (Job 1:
19). His wife lost her confidence in the Lord and any respect she had for her husband. Mrs. Job, seeing her husband
so distressed, eventually encouraged him to forget his integrity, to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9).
But one of the greatest losses to Job was the loss of relationships. Perhaps you have heard the expression "Job's
Job's friends became a burden rather than a blessing. Those who should have been sensitive to his need and
supportive in their actions only added to his burden. Interestingly, each of them represents a type of friend that no one
wants when going through trial.
Let's look at Job's friends. Perhaps in them we will learn the behaviors to avoid when our friends are suffering trials.
We can develop an earnest desire to become effective prayer advocates when others have walked away.
ELIPHAZ - JOB'S RELIGIOUS FRIEND
When Job needed loving, practical friends to assist and support him in his hour of need, his friend Eliphaz took the
opportunity to be "super spiritual." A person with a religious spirit is always looking for an opportunity to assert himself
over you to "pull religious rank."
As Job suffered the loss of every earthly possession and experienced the agony of having excruciatingly painful boils
cover his entire body, Eliphaz took pride in the occasion to bring correction to Job. He said:
with you. You've offered counsel and encouragement to a lot of troubled people in the past. And you've been
the first to support those who have stumbled. But now you're stumbling. And it's obvious that you're discouraged
and dismayed regarding the trouble that has come to you. Job, I know that you think you're a righteous man. But
let me ask you a question: When have you ever heard of an innocent man being destroyed? Job, God spoke to
me in a vision about you. He said, "Eliphaz, can a mere mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be
purer than his Maker?" (Adapted from Job 4:12-17)
others. Eliphaz did this. He told Job, "A word was secretly brought to me" (verse 12, emphasis added). He gloated
over his private revelation by saying, "My thoughts from the visions of the night came on me deep in my sleep."
Unfortunately, Eliphaz was out of touch with the reality of Job's intense suffering. The unsettling truth about friends who
manifest the "I can hear God better than you" syndrome is that many of them have never personally experienced a
genuine breaking from God. People with a religious spirit speak out of their soulishness and not from true brokenness.
What was the result? Eliphaz's "religious spirit" was showing! Job didn't need religion. He needed relationship. He
needed a listening ear, not a sermon. Job needed an intercessor, not an instructor. Eliphaz thought he was serving
God, when, in fact, he was an unknowing pawn of Satan. When called to the witness stand to defend Job, he became a
star witness for the prosecution instead. He brought more - not less - despair and discouragement to Job.
When we are suffering, may God deliver us from religious friends. Decide right now that when your friends are
suffering, you will relate to them with compassion and empathy.
People are still looking for relationships with God and others today. The editor of a New York City magazine
experienced what may be her most unusual interview when she called me one afternoon. She asked, "Is this Revered
"No, it's not," I teased dryly.
"I'm sorry. I was calling to interview Eddie Smith," she continued.
"That's me," I answered. "What can I do for you?"
"Well," she said, "I'm a bit confused. I understood that you are a minister.
"I am a minister," I admitted.
"Can one be a minister and not be a 'reverend'?" she asked.
"Sure," I answered as I continued the play on words. "I just told you, I am."
"Why are you not a 'reverend'?" she inquired.
"It's easy," I clarified. "I revere no man and ask no one to revere me."
A bit taken aback, she continued, "And just what religion are you?"
"I don't have a religion," I admitted, knowing she'd be even more confused.
"What?" she answered. "You are a reverend without a religion?"
"No. I'm not a reverend without a religion," I said.
"Why don't you have a religion?" she pressed.
"Because God hates religion," I calmly explained.
"Why, I thought religion was God's idea!" she said.
"No, ma'am," I explained. "God's idea is relationship."
There was a long poignant pause in the conversation. Then she broke the silence, saying sincerely, "Eddie, I wish you
had a church in New York. I think I'd love to attend it."
Many people in our fast-paced, high-tech world are desperately looking for a relationship with God, not just religion.
This is especially true when they are faced with life's adversities.
BILDAD - JOB'S IDEALISTIC FRIEND
An idealist is one who adheres to philosophical theories of perfection, excellence, and concepts of flawless morality.
This may sound good, but real life isn't quite this pristine. When suffering life's trials, we need neither religious, holier-
than-thou friends to scold us nor idealistic friends like Bildad to rebuke us. Hearing Job's explanation, Bildad replied,
"Job, what you are saying about your situation is nothing but 'hot air.' Let's be honest, Job. God doesn't pervert
justice. You know that your children died because of their sin. So, I think it's high time you plead with God for your own
life. If you are the righteous man you think you are, He will restore your health and other losses. If history teaches us
anything, it teaches us that God won't reject the righteous or bless the wicked" (adapted from Job 8).
Many Christians today have overlooked the powerful process of suffering and trials that God has designed to produce
godliness in each of our lives. Let's not forget that Timothy says, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer
persecution" (II Timothy 3:12, KJV). If we overlook that process, then when suffering befalls our friends, we will be apt to
assume it is God's judgment for sin. When trouble befalls us, we will be apt to be totally confused. (Read I Peter 1:7-9;
II Peter 1:3-10; 2:9; James 1:2-4.)
The Christian journey could be charted this way:
Serving Christ is the goal of many Christians. "After all," they say, "we're saved to serve." Wrong. Service is not God's
goal for our lives. Remember, Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's
business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you"
The Christian journey continues on:
God's goal for us is godliness! He is transforming us into His own image! Godly Christians have not bypassed
brokenness. And only a godly Christian can disciple others toward godliness.
An idealistic person tends to revert back to tradition. So Bildad says, "Ask the former generations and find out what
their fathers learned" (Job 8:8). Many idealists embrace the past moves of God while resisting His present activity. The
worst place in the world to be is the place where God was. Regarding Job's sufferings, Bildad had absolutely no
compassion due to his own defective self-image and his mistaken view of God. Since idealists think adversity is a sure
sign of misguided living, they can offer us little support.
Sometimes God, for His own reasons, allows an idealistic friend to add to our test. At times, we all need false and
idealistic concepts to be broken. Perhaps through an idealistic friend, we can see our blindness and resolve to fully
surrender our heart to God. (See Psalm 51:17.) Whatever happens during the trials of life, pay close attention so you
won't become bitter or angry. Allow the Lord to purify you, because without trials, there will be no triumphs.
ZOPHAR - JOB'S LEGALISTIC FRIEND
A person who lives a life of legalism adheres to a strict, literal, and excessively religious moral code. The New
Testament Pharisees were the legalists of their day. The Aramaic form of the Hebrew word parash for Pharisees means
"separated." The Pharisees were constantly monitoring themselves and others by the Levitical law. These
traditionalists burdened the people with special washings before eating bread and washing after they returned from the
market. Pharisees demanded fasting twice a week and extravagance with tithes. Yet, Jesus scolded them when He
said, "but you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness" (Matthew 23:23).
No doubt the whole spirit of their religion was summed up in self-righteousness, not in confession of sin or humility. This
was the kind of friend Job had in Zophar the legalist!
Zophar said, "Job, why do you think you are always right? Oh, how I wish that God would tell you the truth about your
situation. You're not as smart as you think you are, Job. Can you understand the mysteries of God? God's ways are
higher than the heavens, deeper than the grave, longer than the earth, and wider than the sea. So what can you
possibly know? Can you oppose God? He knows deceitful and evil men when He sees them. Job, a nitwit can no more
become wise than a donkey can become a man. If you repent and put away your sin, then God will remove your
shame" (adapted from Job 11:2-15).
With friends like these, who needs enemies? By being a legalist, Zophar passed a sentence of judgment on Job. A
legalist holds people to the letter of the law. Yet, James 2:10 tells us, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet
stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."
Apparently, there was no one to plead the case for Job. His wife and friends all testified against him in court! Thank
God this is not the case with Fiorello LaGuardia, New York's famed mayor, after whom the New York airport is named.
night court in the poorest ward of the city. He dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench. That
night a tattered old woman, charged with stealing a loaf of bread, was brought before him. She defended herself
by saying, "My daughter's husband has deserted her. She is sick and her children are starving.
punished to teacher other people a lesson."
Ten dollars or ten days in jail."
threw it into his hat with these famous words: "Here's the ten-dollar fine, which I now remit, and furthermore, I'm
going to fine everyone in the courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that
her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant."
bewildered old grandmother who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren. Making forced
donations were a red-faced storekeeper, seventy petty criminals and a few New York policemen."
Interestingly, in this story, the old woman's judge became her defense attorney. And so it is with us. Jesus Christ
reflects Judge Jehovah's heart as He defends us continually in heaven's court (Hebrews 7:25). So we too should pray
for each other in the hour of trial.
Let's not allow ourselves to become "Job's friends." When our friends are going through trials, let's not be a religious
Eliphaz, an idealistic Bildad, or a legalistic, know-it-all Zophar who is out of touch with their own pain. Let's agree to be
spiritual defense attorneys, those who come alongside to bring carefully prayed-over and gently presented godly
counsel, loving support, and encouragement.
NEWS HEADLINES: DEFENDANT BECOMES DEFENDER!
The day came when the gavel dropped in heaven's court, and Job was pronounced "not guilty." Satan had lost the
case against Job. Job did not, as Satan charged, reject God as a result of his trial. The tables were completely turned.
When God finished the work He was doing in Job, He promoted him from the role of suffering defendant to that of
defense attorney once again. "After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Elipaz the Temanite, 'I am angry
with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has'" (Job 42:7).
What a turnaround!
Job's friends had failed to defend him in his trial. They had criticized, mocked, and accused him. His friends had not
understood the process of trial. Under Satan's cross-examination in court, they inadvertently served as witnesses for
the prosecution. In so doing, they had even falsely accused God. Now the court's judgment weighted heavily upon
them. Judge Jehovah was about to pass sentence on them.
Then our merciful Judge Jehovah gave Job's friends these surprising instructions:
My servant Job will pray for you, and accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have
not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. (Job 42:8)
them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer" (verse 9).
No television drama can compare with this story line! Do you see it? "My servant Job will pray for you." Wow! The
Judge gave Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar a court-appointed attorney - Job! As their attorney, Job was to plead their
cases in prayer. And Job was no novice! Having defended his children and stood trial himself, Job the intercessor
defended his children and stood trial himself, Job the intercessor would not be praying detached, unfeeling, lifeless,
Friend, the trials you have suffered, when understood in the context of God's overall purposes and properly applied,
can be used to a kingdom advantage as you intercede for others who are standing trial today.
For job's friends, the best part was that their victory was guaranteed before their case even came to trial! That's right...
guaranteed! Judge Jehovah said to Job's wayward friends, "I will accept his [Job's] prayer and not deal with you
according to your folly." Wow!
We received a credit card offer in the mail one day. On it were written these words: "Guaranteed Acceptance." Can
you imagine God telling you to ask Him for anything and promising in advance to give it to you? We would say that God
had confidence in Job!
Some might think that a judge's decisions are always made in the courtroom. At least, that's the way television judges
make it appear. In many cases, as in this case, the judge decides the matter in his private chamber, in conference with
the opposing attorneys. The courtroom experience is simply to announce the decision publicly. Remember, Christian,
as we enter into the Judge's private chambers to pray, God rules.
As the following story illustrates, when God rules from heaven, there will be a discernible, measurable manifestation of
His decision "in the streets."
For years, the city of Hong Kong, China, had a district that was marked by violence, drugs, strife, fear, poverty,
alienation, and discrimination. It was the Pillar Point refugee camp at Tuen Mun. The camp was little more than a
miserable prison for the refugee families - mostly Vietnamese - incarcerated there.
In the spring of 1999 several hundred Hong Kong pastors and intercessors attended the spiritual warfare and spiritual
mapping conference that I (Alice) taught. Following the conference, Eddie and I led a team of select pastors and
intercessors to research and pray on site at Pillar Point - the site where Hong Kong's first inhabitants worshiped the
stone goddess, the queen of heaven. The team repented on behalf of those first inhabitants who had worshiped
demonic gods, for the harsh treatment of the Vietnamese refugees, and for the sins committed at the Tuen Mun camp.
We stood in the gap to pray.
Several days of violence erupted in the camp on the evening we left Hong Kong to return home to the United States.
The upheaval shook every level of government, even the policy makers. The Hong Kong prayer team saw this as a
sign that God had heard and was going to answer them.
At midnight on May 31, 2000, almost a year from the date that we prayer-walked Pillar Point, the refugee camp at Tuen
Mun was closed, putting an end to this dark chapter in Hong Kong's recent history. We can look with expectancy for
spiritual and physical change in Hong Kong.
Our Father is the God of peace, not violence...of life, not death. We pleaded the case and the conditions of the
Vietnamese people before the Father. The result was better living conditions for them. The refugees have been given
government allowances and housing within the city of Hong Kong. The cases we effectively plead in heaven's court will
result with physical manifestations.
JOB PASSES THE TEST
But exactly when was it that Job's circumstances changed? When did his personal victory come? Was it while Satan
was stripping him of everything? No. Was it while he was complaining and debating with God? No. Three things were
required in order for Job's situation to be resolved.
1. Job had to see and understand God in a new way.
Devastating adversity drove this devoted man to a deeper commitment to God. When adversity visits us, we have a
choice. We can either allow the problem to move us closer to God, or we can resist and run. Job chose God. In spite
of his obvious misfortune, rather than question God's integrity and faithfulness, Job wisely cast himself on the mercy of
the court. And once Job saw the glory of God, he was heard to say, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have
seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6).
The Lord wants to reveal himself to us in our trials too. Job, the defendant in this case, had turned the corner, passed
the test, and completed the process God had designed. He had proven, once and for all, that no one's personal loss
need destroy his relationship with God. (See Romans 8:38-39.) Job had proven what David also discovered - that
distress can actually strengthen us if we remain true to the Lord (Psalm 4:1).
2. Job had to see himself in a new light.
This dilemma caused Job to lose all confidence in the flesh. It is apparent from the text that this righteous man Job,
more righteous than any of his peers, had an unacceptable level of self-esteem. Once he saw God as He really is,
rather than the way he'd previously assumed God to be, Job acknowledged, "I despise myself and repent..." (Job 42:6).
God's humiliation of Job resulted in a new level of humility.
The Lord doesn't want to humiliate us, but He will if we refuse to humble ourselves, because He resists the proud and
gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). So, like Job, we can refuse to allow the trial to finish its work in us, or, more
wisely, we can look for God's purposes in our trials and embrace them wholeheartedly that we might be changed. We
are not suggesting self-pity, but self-purity. When we are as committed to being personally transformed as we are to
having our problems solved, God can demonstrate His miraculous power in our lives.
3. Job learned to see his relationship with others in a new way.
It was Jesus who taught us, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and
with all your strength...Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31).
As long as Job remained the self-absorbed defendant, primarily concerned with his own need, he was a victim. It was
only when he became a God-conscious, God-ordained, anointed defender of others that he experienced his own
victory! "And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends" (Job 42:10, KJV).
Yes, Job's captivity was turned when he prayed for his friends. When Job focused on God and others, his own captivity
Have you noticed how some of the best ministers to the suffering are those who once experienced suffering
themselves? Many drug counselors once struggled against chemical addition themselves or shared the pain and tears
of an addicted friend or family member. Many who were formerly abused work with the abused. God uses life's
tragedies as building blocks when we love Him, submit to His purposes, and place them in His hands. The apostle Paul
wrote, "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" (Romans 8:28). In II Corinthians 5:17 he wrote, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the
old has gone, the new has come!"
Some of us, perhaps even you, are trying to escape the pain of our past. We are trying to bury the hurtful things that
we have experienced. We have not understood the ways of God. The gospel message is this: God makes the old new
and then He weaves together all that we have experienced into the tapestry of our lives, and the result is that we
become a beautiful work of art in His hands.
What we are saying is this. Those painful past experiences you have suffered, things that you thought were
disqualifying factors in your life, are really your credentials for ministry.
As Job's suffering prepared him to intercede for his friends, and the pain and suffering of Jesus' earthly trial was used
by the Father to prepare Him to serve in our defense, so will God use our painful trials to prepare us for our role as
prayer defendants. God is preparing us to plead the cases of others in prayer. Personal trauma has indeed trained
SAMUEL THE LEPER
As I (Eddie) stepped outside the curio shop in Madras, India, the odorous blend of curry and cow dung hung heavily in
the Asian air. Alice and I were there with our team to minister. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a pitiful beggar
lying on a mat on the busy city sidewalk. People were walking around him, and bicycles and carts were dodging him. I
looked again. He was a pathetic sight. Both of his legs, one of his arms, and most of his hand and face were missing.
He was a leper.
I moved closer to him. And as I looked deeper into his dark brown eyes, I caught a glimpse of something familiar in his
countenance. He had a peaceful, satisfied look. I instructed my interpreter, "Ask this man his name, and see if he is a
Christian." We knelt beside the man, and they spoke briefly in Hindi.
"His name is Samuel," he reported. "And, yes, he is a believer!"
I asked if I could talk with Samuel. With the help of my interpreter, I introduced myself to Samuel and asked, "Brother,
where do you live?"
"I live with my sister, two blocks from here," Samuel answered as he smiled broadly.
"Are all of your needs met, Samuel?" I asked.
His face lit up as he assured me that they were. From the look on his face, you would have thought that his entire life
had known nothing but God's favor. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and dropped it into his
cup. He beamed with a sincere but surprised look of gratitude. I stood again and looked through the store window for
Alice and the rest of our team.
Unexpectedly, I suddenly felt a strong tug at my pants leg. It was Samuel. He had dragged his rubber pallet over to
where I was standing. Using his remaining hand, he tenaciously tried to get my attention. Unfortunately, my interpreter
had left. So, with sign language, I tried to tell him I couldn't understand him. Unrelenting, Samuel motioned for me to
kneel beside him again. I knelt. Then, the most remarkable thing occurred.
Samuel had noticed a small, plastic Velcro brace on my forearm. My arm wasn't injured, but because of the heavy
weight of our luggage, I was wearing the brace to prevent any muscle strain. As I knelt beside Samuel, he placed his
good hand with his three remaining fingers on my arm brace, closed his eyes, and began to pray fervently for my
healing in his Hindi language.
Alice and the team could hardly believe their eyes as they walked out into the sun. There I was, kneeling on the
sidewalk as a leper prayed for my healing. Alice captured that remarkable moment on film. That day, I learned a life-
changing lesson that I want to share with you.
You may be waiting until your problems are solved, your healing is manifested, you get a better job, or until you gain
more experience before you begin ministering to the needs of others. Samuel's life of suffering had caused him to be
sensitive to the needs of those around him. It would have been easy for him to overlook the apparent pain of someone
like me. He could have sought to excuse himself from ministering to me because, by comparison, I was wealthier and
healthier than he. Not Samuel. He had a different philosophy. Samuel figured, "If I have one good hand left, I can lay it
on somebody and pray!" Why don't you adopt Samuel's ministry perspective today? There are plenty of people who
need your hand laid on them in prayer. What are you waiting for?
Are you currently enrolled in "the school of suffering"? Perhaps you have been experiencing some Job-like trials of
your own. When will they end? That's really the wrong question. The question we should ask is, What will they
produce? And that, friend, is largely up to you. If you are facing trial today:
It could be that your captivity, like Job's, will be turned as your pray for your friends! Immerse yourself in their victory,
and you will likely discover your own! "So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning" (Job 42:12,
KJV). May this also be said of you!
In the next chapter, we will examine our representation in heaven's courtroom.
SPIRITUAL ADVOCATES, by Eddie and Alice Smith, Copyright 2008, Charisma House.
|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES