Of course, we know that God can “handle” it . . . really the title of this post was just to grab your attention. It would probably be more accurate to entitle it “Can You Handle God’s Response to Your Grumbling?” At least, that’s the question I would ask Job as he pours out his misery to the Almighty, because it will be 31 more chapters before Job gets that response from God. But when He’s good and ready, God speaks loud and clear to Job.
As I work my way through the book of Job, I’m jotting down a few thoughts here. If you missed my post last month, where I share some of what I’m getting out of this study, you can click here to read. Today, I’m looking at Job’s complaint in chapter 7, where he’s hopeless and confused, can you relate? Maybe not hopelessness rising to the level of Job’s, but on a lesser scale?
Listen to how he pours out his heart to God:
[box]Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Am I the sea, or a sea monster, that you set a guard over me?
When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,’ then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones. I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are a breath (Job 7:11–16).[/box]
I can’t imagine ever telling God to “Leave me alone” but I’ve never been stretched to the point Job was. I don’t recommend grumbling, but lamenting is exactly what Job needed to do. He needed to honestly express to God why He was struggling. Job’s struggle, and what he voiced in his perplexed state, actually affirms that his understanding of God (at that time) was framed by a logical, but limited, worldview. He honored God, chapter one clearly conveys that, but his limited perspective was based on the idea that because God is good (and also all powerful), He will not bring affliction to those whom He loves. I think a lot of us live with that perspective, it seems to make sense, especially if we lived in a “Cross-less” world. But that’s where the rub comes.
God graciously chose Job (yes, I said graciously) to experience a level of pain and suffering that few are invited to walk. This extended season of intense affliction wasn’t meant to destroy Job, but it allowed him to enter into a greater understanding of God and also allowed his journey to display God’s worth (for thousands of years!).
Job’s story flies in the face of the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel ~
Before his world was turned upside down, Job had an understanding of God that was simple: Honor God, live a blameless life, and get rewarded by God. Even though that was his theology, I don’t believe he was attempting to “use” God. I say that only based on what God said about Job.
God is the one who initiated all of this when he asked “Have you considered my servant, Job?” God praised Job as a man who is “blameless and upright . . . who fears God and turns away from evil.” When Satan challenged God’s assessment of Job with the accusation that Job only serves God for the good blessings He heaps on him, God responded with the confidence of a Father that knows his child’s loyalty. He allows Job’s loyalty to be proven.
We have a front row seat, as Job wrangles with a new way of viewing God . . . “Could a good God actually bring the crushing blows of affliction down on one He loves, one who has committed no sin worthy of this amount of wrath?”
The answer is—yes. He most notably did that with His own Son.
Job provides us with a picture, in a sense, of bearing “undeserved” affliction as Christ did. We see a glimpse of the gospel story throughout Job’s grappling.
Job is a believer; the deepest pain he endures is that it seems to him he has fallen under the judgment of God. And he discovers, as do we, that the kindest and most well-meant religious or philosophical counsel can ultimately provide no comfort. Only the truth of the cross can do that, for only the cross reveals redemptive suffering, and only the cross prepares believers to walk in the way of the cross . . . (Job: The Wisdom of the Cross by Christopher Ash).
I’ll let you chew on that a bit.
We will never go to the cross to pay for the sins of the world, but we go to the cross daily as we lay down our lives for the sake of the gospel—in mostly small, but sometimes large, ways. Walking the “way of the cross” provides others a glimpse into the value of knowing God.
As we face suffering, and everyone in this fallen world does, and we walk through the path of affliction with a heart that remains devoted to God . . . it gives the lost world a glimpse into God’s value. They get the message that, no matter what happens to me—God is worthy of my worship—no matter what!
Only here will we have opportunity to lift up the pure worship given while under assault.
Job grappled with the suffering, he complained, lamented, and wanted to die just to find some relief. But eventually Job came face to face with the wonder of God. But in chapter 7 he doesn’t know that, he just sees the injustice of his pain. Job didn’t understand or see the story God was writing in his life, and yet what an amazing story it became!
You and I don’t see the scope and expanse of our stories, either. God never ceases to amaze me. He is faithful, He is good, He is omnipotent, but He does not always work in ways that are easy to understand. He is incredible in His ability to take the worst points of suffering and bring redemption and even a greater knowing of His heart.
Are you struggling today? How can we pray for you?