It’s been said that Job may be the oldest book in the Bible. It could also be argued that Job is the most frightening book of the Bible. As most adults don’t make the book of Job a part of their regular devotions, it’s hard to imagine why it would be a good idea to teach it to the children entrusted to our care.
Do they really need to know about a man who saw all of his children die and all of his possessions lost in one fell swoop? And that the “swoop” was actually authorized by God?
That doesn’t even take into account the “loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7) that Job also endured. Is there really anything in this story for children?
2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is profitable for teaching and training in righteousness. Those of us who are tasked with equipping children in the faith, “training them in righteousness,” don’t need to shy away from the book of Job.
We can trust that our sovereign God included Job’s story for a reason, and that there’s something all of us—even children—can and should learn from it. Because kids can learn from the difficult parts of the Bible—just like the can any other passage.
Here are 6 things to teach kids about the book of Job.
1. God’s ways are not our ways.
This is a good place to start with almost any lesson about God.
One of the first truths of Scripture we want kids to know is Isaiah 55:8-9. God doesn’t think like we do. His ways are much higher than ours—as high as heaven is from the earth. Even the smartest person in the world could never begin to understand everything about God.
A lot of times His ways are going to seem confusing and mysterious, but we can be sure that He has told us everything we need to know about Himself.
He’s told us everything we need to know, but His thoughts are much higher than ours, and we aren’t capable of completely understanding His ways. With that foundation in place, we can help kids better grasp the book of Job.
2. God has authority over Satan.
The opening scenes in the book of Job, chapters 1 and 2, are especially difficult. God singles out Job as a blameless and upright man, seemingly setting him up to be tormented by Satan, the accuser. The major focus of God’s interaction with Satan, however, should be on Satan’s subservience.
Kids, and sometimes even adults, can tend to picture God and Satan as well-matched opponents. We want kids to know that’s not true.
God is infinitely more powerful than Satan.
Teaching kids the book of Job is a good way to drive home that essential point. Satan had to ask permission of God to touch Job. Satan’s power is limited by God. That should give kids comfort and confidence.
3. Job was faithful to God, even when he didn’t understand God.
Most kids will probably admit that they’re more loving and obedient when their parents are giving them what they want. When their parents’ actions don’t make sense—when they feel like their parents are just making their lives hard for no reason—they’re more likely to grumble against mom or dad.
That may be how we treat God too. When things are going well, we’re happy to praise and thank Him. But when they’re not? In no time at all, we can get mad at God and turn our backs on Him.
Job shows us another way. His words were not always bright and cheery, but in the midst of some unimaginably horrible circumstances, he showed resilient faith.
When his wife prodded him to curse God and die, Job affirmed his faith in God and did not sin (2:9-10). Left with nothing, he continued to praise the name of the Lord (1:21). Badgered ceaselessly by his friends, he held fast to righteousness and integrity and refused to speak lies about God or anyone else (27:3-6).
Through the story of Job, we can teach kids that they don’t have to understand God to thank Him. Their lives can be difficult, and they can still give Him praise.
4. We can ask God our questions.
Using Job as an example, we can teach kids that being faithful to God doesn’t mean we need to be silent.
Job certainly wasn’t! He had many questions, and he brought them earnestly before the Lord. Job asked how a person could ever be declared innocent by God (9:2). He wanted to know if anyone “born of a woman”—basically, anyone human—could ever be pure (25:4).
Job wanted to know if a man could die and then live again (14:14). And he wanted to know why he’d even been born in the first place if so much suffering awaited him (3:11).
The book of Job teaches kids that it’s okay to ask God their questions. It teaches them that He’s big enough to handle anything they want to ask Him.
5. God may not answer in the way we expect.
In his final speech, recorded in chapter 31, Job’s questions all boiled down to a question we all ask at some point in our lives: “What have I done to deserve this?”
God never gave him an answer to that question. But God did show up, and instead of giving Job what he wanted, God gave him what he needed: a changed perspective.
What God gave Job was the message that He was God and Job was not. He laid out one piece of evidence after another—from the stars in the sky to the soaring hawk—to help Job see his place in the universe. This might be the simplest definition of what the Bible means by “fear the Lord.”
Help kids understand that to fear the Lord is to see ourselves in right perspective to God, to understand that He is the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and we are not. That understanding was a gift to Job.
In the end, the one who demanded an answer from God learned a greater lesson: “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (42:3).
This is a particularly important lesson for kids, many of whom are incessant question-askers. Not everything their parents do is going to make sense to them. There comes a time when they just have to say, “I trust that my mom knows best, and that she loves me.” They’ll have to do that with God too.
Job can help kids learn that God may not give us what we want, but He will always give us what we need.
6. God restores.
Older kids will know what restore means. Younger kids may need a little help understanding that restore means to bring back something that was lost or ruined.
An example might be helpful. If your lunch falls on the floor and the dog eats it, your parents will most likely make you a new lunch—they will restore it. What was destroyed will be made new.
In Job’s case, what was lost or ruined was his entire life. And God restored it with twice as much as he had before—something like getting two new lunches!
Kids need to know they have a God who cares about them. He sees what happens to them. He has the power to help them and to restore them—no matter what their circumstances.
No one wishes for a life like Job’s. But God’s Word includes Job’s story for a reason. The book of Job teaches kids (and adults) that we can trust God’s sovereignty.
He’s not going to let anything happen to us without a purpose, and His purpose is always good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). These are the big ideas we want kids to associate with the book of Job.