Listen to or read this series, “Together: Growing Appetites for God,” where Carrie Ward and her family talk about their quest to read the entire Bible!
The first time we read the book of Job together, my kids were between roughly one to six years of age. We had been reading the Bible for a couple of years, so my children’s attention spans had increased and they were pretty attentive . . . for the first couple of chapters.
Job 1 and 2 are riveting. (If it’s been a while since you’ve read these chapters, I’d encourage you to stop and read them now.)
Chapter 2 ends with Job and his friends sitting silent for seven days. And then the talking begins.
Can we please read something else?
If you’re like me, when you hit Job 3 you start feeling like you’ve entered deep and turbulent waters. I know that all Scripture is God-breathed, and I know that God speaks throughout this middle section of Job; however, as I’m reading Job for the first time to four small children, I’m thinking, I’m having trouble paying attention, so I’m quite sure they are.
I kept telling my kids to hang in there because God is going to speak. Trouble is, He speaks in chapter 38. So we had to get through thirty-five chapters (!) of dialogue before God speaks.
Not too far into these chapters, my oldest daughter turned to me with a desperate look and said, “Can we please read something else? He keeps sayin’ the same thing over and over again.” (She was four at the time.)
We made it through Job and, in the end, God did speak, and it was a great day.
The second time we read Job, well, I hate to admit it, but it was pretty much just as difficult to read, except that we knew what was coming.
Recently we read Job for the third time. And this time it was a different experience.
Things we had never seen before
For one thing, I decided to change my approach. We read the first two chapters on one day. The next day we read chapter 3. Then when Job’s friends began to speak, I read each friend’s comments and Job’s reply. So for example, I read what Eliphaz said in chapter 4 and 5 together with Job’s response in chapters 6 and 7. Then the next day I read Bildad’s comments and Job’s reply and so on. I read all of Elihu’s (the younger man who speaks near the end) comments in one day. Then when we reached Job 38, I read the Lord’s response to Job and the conclusion of the book.
This time we all started to notice things we had never seen before.
The first observation is not real spiritual, but nevertheless it jumped out at us. Job is rather sarcastic. Now, I’m sure there is a better term for this (and I know Job had been through a lot), but when Job responds to his friends with “No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you” (Job 12:2 ESV), to us that sounded like sarcasm. On more than one occasion, one of my kids would blurt out, “I can’t believe he said that.”
We also we noticed how much Job speaks of creation. At one point, Job says about God, “He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7). My son looked at me and said, “How’d he know that?” After all, Job takes place in the time of Genesis. How did he know that the earth was hanging in space over nothing? (Remember, there was no Google Earth!) Not only that, but notice how the Lord responded to Job. From the most intimate scene to the most majestic, His response, from beginning to end, spotlights His creation. As bright and perceptive as Job might have been, God reminded Job that he didn’t know as much about creation as he (or we) thought he did.
Our last observation was, to us, the most important. We saw Christ in the book of Job. Job says things like “he who testifies for me is on high” and “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Then there’s this awesome moment when the Lord says to Job, “Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will he spend the night at your manger?” (Job 39:9) Now I know that the Lord is declaring his control over even this wild beast. (I read this in several commentaries.) Job certainly couldn’t make this wild ox behave like a tame one and feed in his manger. But the word “manger” immediately made us think of Christ’s birth.
On the final day of Job, I read the Lord’s response and the conclusion of the book. As the kids and I recounted the things we had read and learned from Job, my daughter (believe it or not, the same daughter that said, “Can we please read something else?”) said, “Aw, I’m kinda sorry that it’s over. I wish Job was longer.”
This is something worth our energy
This has been just a part of the joy of reading the Bible with my kids . . . I see their appetites for God and His Word growing. And it fuels my delight in God and His Word as well.
It takes time to read the Bible with my kids, and there are certainly a lot of confusing and challenging moments. But this is something worth my time . . . and yours. This is something worth our energy. This is something for which we need to sacrifice, so that the Word of God might fill the minds of our kids.
God, please establish your Word in their hearts. Give our kids a true hunger—a real appetite—for You.