We continue with Job today and dig even deeper into Job’s gut-wrenching pain. I have felt pain that hurt so badly I thought it would surely kill me, or at least leave just a shell of a person when it was all said and done; but it never did. Every time, I have grown out of that pain and every time I emerged stronger for the struggle. However, I am thankful to have never encountered such devastation as Job did. I’ve never come close. To have everything and everyone around you, even your own health, completely devastated, all at once, is really too much for me to even wrap my mind around, but through reading Job’s struggles with the Lord and all he had to say in response to the devastation, I get a much better picture of what this all-encompassing pain must feel like. As Job said, “No wonder my words have been impetuous” (6:3).
Day Five: Job, chapters 6-9
The book of Job is written in long dialog form, which makes me sometimes get hung-up on who’s talking at the time. But today’s reading is primarily spoken by Job, himself.
“Oh, that I might have my request,
that God would grant what I hope for,
that God would be willing to crush me,
to let loose His hand and cut me off!”
Can’t you just imagine that desiring God to just end your life then and there would be the honest plea? So many of us can hardly keep standing through the most minor of setbacks, and just say, “I’d rather just die.” With suicide rates soaring, particularly among the youth of our nation, it seems that all too many take their lives in their own hands. When the going gets tough, that’s when we must remember to lean on God all the more.
“A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams” (6:14-15).
I’m sure Job wished with every word and bit of accusation that came from his friends mouths that they would return to quietly sitting around him in quiet support. Instead, after that quiet time, they opened their mouths loud and accused Job of being a sinful person, under the strong arm punishment of God.
As Job’s friend, Bildad the Shuhite said, “Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless” (8:13).
Really? Job forgot God? Job not only offered offerings for himself, even though he was blameless and upright, but he made sin offerings on behalf of others, as well. Job forgot God? Can’t you just see the expression on Job’s face when his friend was speaking these words to him? I know exactly how my own face would be scrunched and how angry I would be getting if, in the middle of it all, my friends were doing their best to make me feel worse instead of better.
Job realized that his friends were of no help to him, rather he was going to have to find a way to talk with God, Himself. He calls out to God, in great anguish, “Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong” (6:24).
I can just hear Job calling out to the skies, searching the clouds for an answer, staring through exhausted eyes and getting no relief from the pain of his bodily sores and his heart sickness.
“But now be so kind as to look at me. Would I lie to your face? Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider for my integrity is at stake. Is there any wickedness on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice?” (6:28-30)
There have been times in my life that I am in such pain that I can’t even put words together in which to pray. I can’t even gather my thoughts enough to make cohesive sentences. I have gotten into my car, and just screamed out. Not in anger, but in pain. More of a guttural yell. It’s like a convergence of all words. Only God knows all that I need. Only God knows where the cracks and breaks and holes are in my soul. And only God can discern what my cries out for Him mean, and sometimes the pain is so hard to bear on my own that literally crying out, LOUDLY, to Him truly is my only hope of relief. Sometimes I go away from that moment feeling lighter; other times I only feel hoarse; but every time I sink so low that I don’t even have the words, He has healed me and brought me up out of that pit.
Job says to God, “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (7:11).
Don’t we know that sometimes crying out truly is our only option? I can only imagine that Job only had one option, too: to go to God. His family was gone. His friends were no help. I can see how Job would feel his only option was to cry out in despair and wonder why his life was so important that he was getting all of this attention. My own mind would be saying, “Can’t you go test someone else, now?”
“What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment?” (7:17-18)
Isn’t it humbling when Job said, “How can a mortal be righteous before God?” (9:2)
Isn’t it true! We have a sinful nature. From birth we are testing boundaries and seeing which rules we can bend. Only God is truly righteous, and only God has the all-encompassing power over all. Our mortal minds cannot come close to even an understanding of God, all we can do is dig deep and try to have as close a relationship as our own sin-natures will allow. Because the truth of the matter is that God loves and adores us no matter what we think of Him or how much honor we give Him. It is only our own selfishness that stands in the way of a deeper relationship with Him. “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (9:10).
Job is at that point, crying out with every bit of voice left in him, begging for a chance to understand why he feels so alone and why God is testing him so:
“He is not a man like me that I might answer him,
that we might confront each other in court.
If only there were someone to arbitrate between us,
to lay his hand upon us both,
someone to remove God’s rod from me,
so that his terror would frighten me no more.
Then I would speak up without fear of him,
but as it now stands with me, I cannot.”
That is where we end today’s scripture reading. We are crying out to God, “Please help us understand!” Dear friends, Job is looking different than I have ever seen him before. I hope his story is opening up to you as well. Job is no longer this far-removed story from the Bible, but he is you and me with all of his human fears and pain.
Tomorrow’s reading: Job, chapters 10-13
Make it a great day,