Recently I prepared for a Sunday School lesson on the story of Job. I listened to a number of podcasts about the story. I looked over the Church’s materials and videos. I studied the NIV Study Bible and the Dictionary of the Bible. But I didn’t end up feeling I had the approach I wanted. I had listened to or read lots and lots of commentary. But I didn’t find much application.

How is our study of Job supposed to provide us with insights as we face trials in our own lives? How does the story of Job help us live more godly lives? Do we merely expect lots of unexplained suffering and 77 (by one count) impossible questions about “cosmology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy” from God? Or is there more to take away?

For me, the Job lesson comes home with an experience I had many years ago. As my wife Nancy and I desired to expand our family, we experienced many miscarriages. When we had the first few, Nancy and I sought medical help, prayed, got priesthood blessings, fasted, etc. We continued to have miscarriages. At one point I became desperate and told God to sort things out—or else. I was frustrated and I told Him so.

After wearing myself out with complaints and demands, a new thought came to me. I assume it was delivered by the Holy Spirit. The new thought was, what if I choose to see everything, including our miscarriages, through the lens of faith? What if I were to place my trust in Him and be grateful to Him for all aspects of my life—even including our miscarriages—without demanding resolution, explanation, or justification?

That change of thinking changed everything! The miscarriages continued—we had 20-something. But my enlarged faith brought tangible peace. It felt great to just trust Him! I knew that I was on the right path because I felt so peaceful and happy every time I thanked Him for His blessings—including our miscarriages.

“The process of God-directed purifying will, of necessity, be wrenching and painful at times. . . . In the midst of this refiner’s fire, rather than get angry with God, get close to God” (D. Todd Christofferson, Our Relationships with God, April 2022).

Getting close to God prepared me for other challenges that would come along—including a doctor telling me 35 years after our miscarriages that I had cancer. Instinctively I knew how to react the moment he told me. “If I live, I am in God’s hands. If I die, I am in God’s hands. Either way is okay with me.”

That is the lesson I take from Job. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name, the love, the redemptive purposes of the Lord.

Our dear friend Robyn, who suffers more health challenges than any three people we know, challenged Job’s expression. She said, God gives, but He does not take away. He just blesses in a different way. He gives comfort, peace, love, hope, and strength.

In our case, I knew God would either joyfully bless us with a child or would give us a sacred opportunity to be enfolded in His love as He designed an alternative path for us.

People face all kinds of challenges.

As I look back, I wonder how I was able to trust God in the face of an affliction that was overwhelming to us. I think the answer is that my parents taught us to trust Jesus from the time we were little. That was their constant refrain. They loved Him and it showed in how they acted in what they taught us.

Their teachings prepared my siblings and me to see the world through a specific lens—the lens of faith. We saw God blessing us. We trusted Him in our challenges. We thanked Him for His graciousness. Orson and Bernice taught us faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—a vibrant, tested, living faith.

Commonly, in times of crisis, we undertake an extended analysis as Job and his friends did. We demand resolution. Ideally, we want the situation fixed—remove the suffering and give me the outcome I desire. We also require explanation. Why me? What did I do to deserve this?  And if the situation continues, we may justify doubt. Where are you? How can I trust You if You refuse to intervene? Do You even care?  But God’s appearance to Job with dozens of unanswerable questions should teach us that it is not our job to hold God to an accounting. It is our job to love and trust Him. “All things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).

Some challenges will persist for a long time. We had 20+ miscarriages. It is worth noting that Nancy’s process through the miscarriages was a little different from mine. She says that she went to God and was reassured that He was in charge, and she was in His hands. Her answer came somewhat differently, but, in the end, she felt joy, peace, and assurance.

Shouldn’t God help us understand why we are suffering? My guess is that we cannot understand God’s purposes any more than Job could answer God’s 77 questions. We can trust Him. We can reason with Him in faith and submission. But, my guess is that we will not understand His purposes until we are with Him again. I suspect that when He shows us how He was with us, ministering to us, loving us, and blessing us through every trial, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that He has been wise, gracious, and loving.

When we demand explanations for every challenge in our lives, we may be as the man described by William James: “Just as a man who in a company of gentlemen made no advances, asked a warrant for every concession, and believed no one’s word without proof, would cut himself off by such churlishness from all the social rewards that a more trusting spirit would earn–so here, one who should shut himself up in snarling logicality and try to make the gods extort his recognition willy-nilly, or not get it at all might cut himself off forever from his only opportunity of making the gods’ acquaintance” (Fosdick, 1918, The Meaning of Faith, p. 9).

If we have cultivated a trusting, believing heart, and by being willing to throw ourselves on His merits, mercy, and grace, then, when crisis comes, we are ready for a mighty change of heart.

When we are willing to set aside our demands for explanation, justification, and compensation, He can come in and take up full occupancy of our souls. But only if we are willing to throw ourselves–including our thought processes–on His mercy.

This does not mean that we should tell others to be grateful for their challenges. That would be a major failure of compassion on our part. However, we can invite others to go to God with an open heart and ask for loving reassurance. Often we will not get explanations but we may well get reassurances: “You are in the palm of my hand. I love you. I will redeem you. Please trust me.”

When Joseph Smith begged God for relief while incarcerated in the Liberty jail, God reassured him that His divine purposes would not fail. Joseph did not soon get free of jail. And the Missourians did not get their comeuppance. But God taught Joseph glorious principles of truth and divine power. Joseph received a remarkable flood of light and goodness.

Would I recommend that people should rejoice in their challenges? In the right way and at the right time, I would say absolutely YES! So did Paul. He taught us to “glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience” (Romans 5:3). Paul also described the saint equipped with faith in Christ: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39).

Paul describes the perspective of a disciple. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor 4:8-9).

There is no question that we will suffer in this life. Yet, the core of Jesus’ message is that, when we suffer, we can let God be our comfort. That was God’s message to Job, to Joseph, to the pioneers, to Wally, and it is His message to you.

This reminds me of Brigham Young’s counsel to departing missionaries: “You must feel—if [your family] live, all right; if they die, all right; if I die, all right; if I live, all right; for we are the Lord’s, and we shall soon meet again” (DBY, 324).

This does not need to be tired resignation. This can be soul-filling assurance. We are the Lord’s! He has us in His hands! And we shall soon meet again! What a reassuring message! What reason for rejoicing!

Invitation: It is my objective as an author to combine the revealed truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the principles of human behavior that I studied as an academic. To those two great sources of truth, I add life experience to discover enduring truths about relationships. If that approach to learning is useful to you, I recommend my book on relationships, Discoveries: Essential Truths for Relationships. You may also be interested in my book on marriage, Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage, my books on parenting, Between Parent and Child (revised from Haim Ginott’s classic), and The Soft-Spoken Parent. You can find these books at LDS booksellers or Amazon.

Thanks to Barbara Keil for her insightful feedback on this article.

For a discussion of the 77 questions, see:…/job/1090-job-38-39-god-s-77-questions