For your information, and before I continue my study of “Job, God’s comeback Kid,” let me refer you to a study which someone was kind enough to call to my attention. As I’ve said before, my purpose here is to focus on the Scripture as prayerfully and as thoughtfully as I know how. I try not to approach it governed by my own conclusions or influenced by someone else’s opinions. I’m not looking for “proof texts.” I am also in quest of lessons I need to learn and apply to a guy named donkimrey! After I’ve done that, my intention is to visit desiringGod by John and Abraham Piper and learn from him. You don’t have to wait for me.
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him, but I will maintain mine own ways before Him.” Job 13:15
The main thrust in the book of Job seems, obviously the problem of suffering. While Job is trying just to keep his head above water, his wife added to his misery with her suggestion: “Why don’t you just curse God and die?! From my standpoint, that sounds like a clear suggestion that Job commit suicide.
Next, he has four “friends” who drop in and help him grieve. That was nice. After a period of time, though, Job begins to emerge from his grief, still stunned by his loss. He tries to verbalize his grief. And it is at that point one of the friends, Eliphaz tells Job he’s the reason for his own suffering. Now, try that one on for size! After lecturing Job on his view of suffering, he tells Job “My advice to you is this: Go to God and confess your sins” (Job 5:8). Then he says self-righteously, ”for your own good, listen to my counsel” (Job 5:27).
If you read his speech, you’ll have to say some of it is true. But the sweeping conclusions he draws, and the harsh judgment he levels at Job, not only doesn’t help ease Job’s pain. It probably hurts worse than the boils. Ever had boils? They hurt, and they’re ugly. Ever had one on your nose? A pimple on your chin before a date was not only painful. It was embarrassing! Ever had one where you sit?! Job had them all over, head to toe and they kept hurting constantly and were humiliating. You must be aware that in such a case you have to deal with the constant pain, PLUS they would erupt with ugly ooze (how can I say that politely?l!) at the most inopportune times.
In grade school I had a classmate who had ‘carbuncles,’ all over him. I mean everywhere! His mother was unmarried, and sort of the ‘butt’ of a lot of small town trash talk. Out of self~defense, he became mean and scared daylights out of me. He’d just try to pick fights. The other kids avoided him. He once tore into a male teacher in class! That was only one of the many times he got expelled. When he was in tenth grade(the second time,) he became a Christian and made a confession of faith during the same revival meeting that brought me to Christ. After that, he became and remains one of my best friends and to this day.
It seems to me I drifted a bit off the point at this point, but the memory of that young friend helps me better understand the predicament in which Job found himself. Bad enough it was to have the painful, ugly sores oozing pus continuously. But bad matters were made much worse when well intentioned, but ignorant friend made sweeping judgments and tried to pour hot guilt upon him to add to the physical pain.
As I read the narrative, it seems to me these guys were just waiting for a chance to unload on Job. Every time Job says something, one of them comes back with another ‘cheap shot.’
There are many matters in the book of Job which can be considered for my profit. The mystery of suffering, obviously, is one of them. I’ll probably touch on them briefly and share some conclusions I’ve drawn from my own experience, reading, and observaton.
What I’m looking for in this study, though, specifically, is to find out how in the world Job kept or recovered his equilibrium and emerged with his sanity intact and went on to a new, great, fulfilled life. He could have given up, you know, and we would have had little reason to blame him. If he’d done that, of course we would not have his example of tough, patient, courageous and unwavering faith. His wife suggested that he probably should cut loose and curse God and die. Right then and there! By his own hand! If that isn’t a suggestion that he commit suicide, I don’t know what would be. Could YOU have passed such a test?
How could ANYONE be knocked down, smashed flat, and still recover? Some of the means by which he survived are fairly obvious. Others are not quite so easily visible. We have to look. And listen, and think.
One of the reasons for his recovery is clearly the Faith by which he lived. We can tell that by some of the things he said, but we can also tell by how he acted. He made and kept his commitment to God. That was a tough determination on his part. His was not a ‘creampuff’ belief. Under the scalding, derisive scrutiny of those four friends who came calling, he braced up as they leveled self-righteous criticism in a barrage of words which seemed to stream continuously from their mouths.
Can you go a bit further with that conclusion and apply it to your own life? I can ask that, because it’s what I try to do when it seems as if I’m “running against the wind” and uphill at that!
God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student