Rockledge Florida, USA
A close friend asked me what I think of the Old Testament scriptural passage found in Job 3:25:
“For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.”
At first glance, it seems like a simple case of self-fulfilling prophecy: What we fear, we make come true by giving it so much thought that our thoughts lead us to actions and choices that have consequences that bring to pass the very thing we feared or wished to avoid.
However, knowing something of the character and faithfulness of Job, and having some sense of the Lord’s purpose to which Job was foreordained, I cannot dismiss this particular case as mere self-fulfilling prophecy. It seems Job had some foreknowledge regarding the degree of adversity his mission in life would entail.
I believe Job had such a close personal relationship with Heavenly Father that Job was aware early in his life that there would come upon him a season of life in which he would face unimaginable adversity. I believe he was anxious and concerned about it, but understood he would have to face it to accomplish his mission in life.
He may have known, on an intellectual level, that he would be called upon to pass through terrible trials, but when he actually experienced those trials, the reality of them afflicted him far more than the anxiety and concern he felt in anticipation of them.
I do not believe it was fear, as in fright, that brought about his trials. I do not believe that Job brought upon himself, through any negative thoughts or sins or fears, the multitude of trials that came upon him. It was not self-fulfilling prophecy.
Notice Job 3:23:
“Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?”
It seems to me that Job’s question included a personal observation that the Lord had given him light (understanding and intelligence) even though Job felt hedged in, stifled, and hidden from the course and prosperity and health and fellowship and renown he had once enjoyed and still desired.
That light, understanding, and intelligence (testimony), may have included a patriarchal blessing that helped Job remain firmly rooted in faith. Though, in his anguish, he cursed the day of his birth, he never cursed God, and he never gave up or surrendered himself to the adversary.
Even Jesus Christ knew the purpose for which He was born, and surely felt great anxiousness (as in anxiously engaged, not frightened) regarding that which He knew he would have to endure. Even Christ said to the Father:
“O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)
Both Jesus Christ and Job came to the realization that the only way their sufferings could have an end was to endure them well.
Consider the semantics of the word fear. Fear as used in the scriptures does not always mean afraid or frightened. It can mean reverence, deep respect, awe, and obedience to God.
Tremble, also, does not always mean shaking with fright. It can mean a person trembles under the powerful influence of the Holy Ghost. I have personally felt that kind of trembling, and it has nothing to do with being frightened. It is caused by the Holy Ghost filling us with energy and confidence and firm resolve regarding a specific task or an act of expressing or demonstrating truth, usually while experiencing extreme difficulty, adversity, or opposition (see Mosiah 2:30).
Notice Job 3:26:
“I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.”
To me, this indicates Job was making another observation: He knew he had spent his life valiantly living the gospel. At no time was he cowering in safety. He was out doing the Lord’s work. He was a ship who left the shelter of the harbor and sailed out into the storms of life to face the gale and the hail, having faith to prevail.
He was not resting on his laurels, thinking all is well in Zion. He was not silent. He opened his mouth to teach truth, to express gratitude to God, and to exclaim the feelings of his heart.
Yet he understood that living righteously did not, and would not, prevent the pain and suffering and loss and trauma and anguish that was to be part of his mortal mission. He understood that his faith and diligence and obedience to God would not exempt him from trouble. He did all things the Lord required of him, with perfect faith, yet trouble came.
That is the great lesson Job taught us for our day. We can and must remain valiant, even knowing that trouble will come. Our personal testimonies, good works and faithfulness and positive outlook will help bear us up through troubled times; yet trouble comes.
After we have endured sufficiently in the Lord’s eyes, in his timing, not ours, we will be completely healed, made whole, and blessed beyond anything we have previously imagined or experienced.