Job 1:9-12 (NIV)
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
The scary thing is that Satan has to ask for permission to attack Job – and God gives it.
While Satan is the father of lies, lying to God would be pointless. Satan is right when he claims that God has put a hedge around Job. That hedge is keeping Job safe. Like a dog in a dog park, Satan looks like he’s running around free, but the fences are really in control.
But now, for His holy purposes, God has opened the gate and Satan is free to attack Job. The implications of this are pretty frightening. Is Satan always constrained by God? Are all his attacks expressly allowed by God?
Scripture says, “Yes.”
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” – Luke 22:31-32 (NIV)
That’s even scarier. Jesus is not only saying that Satan got permission to sift Simon as wheat, but that He prayed, not for Simon to be spared the trial, but for him to pass it.
The implications for the doctrine of God’s sovereignty are huge. Everything that happens – everything – is under His authority.
The implications for prayer are huge too. We tend to pray for trials to end quickly or to be avoided entirely. But if every trial is pre-authorized by God, shouldn’t we be praying differently?
While we all want to avoid suffering, but it’s pretty obvious that God’s agenda is something else. Jesus’ suffering on the cross makes that clear. That doesn’t mean we have to abandon our desire to avoid suffering in our prayers, but it does mean we should be mindful of other things.
If trials have a purpose, consider that when you pray. One typical prayer might be, “Lord, help me learn what you’re trying to teach me, so we can end this nightmare.” It’s even OK to scream, “Is there a point to this?!” Just be yourself and recognize that there is a point.
To download a free study guide containing the first six Job devotionals, plus some discussion questions, go here: