Ilya Repin [Public domain]
This is one of the most impressive statements preserved in Holy Scripture, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him” (Job 13:15 KJV).
John Calvin wrote a whole sermon on this section of Job’s speech. In it he compares God to a wise and benevolent surgeon. The surgeon knows when and where to attack the disease – and when to wait and stay his hands. Calvin says:
“Let us not think it strange if He does not heal them at once; for the disease must first be made ripe, and then God can apply His hand, and find suitable remedies. Let us know, then, that God knows what is good and proper for us, and let us wait for Him in patience.”
C.S. Lewis too, was fascinated by this passage. He wrote:
“Suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.”
Like Job, Lewis held onto his belief that because God was Sovereign and because he was good, there must be an ultimately benevolent purpose to whatever sorrows and suffering he ordains. This was no cause for glibness in the face of affliction for Lewis, far from it. He went on to say: “The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness.”
Job seems more perfectly aligned with Lewis than with Calvin in terms of his appreciation of this doctrine. For him it was a truth to cling to, but also one to tremble before. The implications are staggering. It must mean that there is something seriously wrong with us that we do not truly perceive. It must mean that healing will be long, slow, arduous and exhausting. But it will be – it must be – for our good.
Do you believe that?
Do you trust God that much?
That is really what the text is asking.
Do you believe that God’s intentions toward you are ultimately good though immediately painful?
Can you say with Job: “Yea, though he slay me, yet will I trust him”?
Because sooner or later, that is the test of faith that every man, woman and child in this fallen and broken world must face.
Pastor Paul Carter
To listen to the most recent episodes of Pastor Paul’s Into The Word devotional podcast on the TGC Canada website see here. You can also find it on iTunes. To access the entire library of available episodes see here.
 John Calvin, Sermons From Job, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), 70.
 C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, (Lond: Faber and Faber, 2013), 37.
 Ibid., 37.