|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
Meditation No. 18
Meditation Title: Incomplete Vision
Job 7:6,7 My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.
I have observed something to do with our weather: when it has been raining solidly for two weeks, you just can't imagine it stopping and tomorrow being sunny. I've also noticed a similar perception to do with our life circumstances. I remember a couple of Christians who had some neighbours who were totally hostile to them. This hostility carried on for years and they gave up believing it could ever be any different, and then one day suddenly the wife from next door paused up on the way down the path and spoke to one of my friends quite civilly and pleasantly. Suddenly it seemed, the ice was broken. In each situation we find ourselves confronted by circumstances that just go on and on and which, we feel, can never end. The apparent impossibility of it all, and the ongoingness of it, shuts down our thinking and our vision is limited, so we stop believing.
This is actually a very important thing to understand because it is something that many people struggle with, probably not being aware of what is happening. The person whose father beat them and abused them as a child, is locked into negative thinking when they think of God as a Father. They cannot comprehend the concept of a loving heavenly Father because of what their memories tell them. They have an incomplete vision. The person who has been through a harsh life, often feels negative towards God, not understanding that He yearned to help them. Instead they look back over the years and deny God can be a God of love. In these various ways we operate under an incomplete or limited vision of reality. We only see part of it.
Anguish crushes, distorts and twists our understanding and we lose contact with reality. What Job feels is not reality, but it is because of the terrible anguish he is going through. Listen: Does not man have hard service on earth? Are not his days like those of a hired man? (7:1) Notice that key word, hard'? That reminds us of the third man in Jesus' parable of the talents, Then the man who had received the one talent came. `Master,' he said, `I knew that you are a hard man. (Mt 25:24). It's a hard world because He's a hard God, is the mentality (wrong mentality) of some. In the midst of pain and anguish we only see a hard world and forget the good times, the times of the happy family, of the good harvest and the great achievements.
He continues, Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired man waiting eagerly for his wages, so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. (v.2,3) He compares himself with a slave longing for the day's drudgery to end, or the hired man waiting until the moment when the work finishes and he can receive his pay. He sees his present experience as an ongoing, unending period that is futile and hopeless, filled with ongoing misery. It just goes on and on: When I lie down I think, `How long before I get up?' The night drags on, and I toss till dawn. (v.4) There's an experience many of us can empathise with, the night(s) when we've found ourselves fully awake and then the night just seems to drag on and on and on until eventually, after an eternity, dawn comes.
But it's worse than that: My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering. (v.5). It's not sleeplessness that is his concern (if only that was all it was!) but this awful physical state of itching, irritation and pain that cannot be escaped. It is a horrible ongoing experience, My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. (v.6). The days come and go, come and go, almost as a blur and he wonders will there ever be an end, and if there is, it is one without hope. That's what this ongoing anguish does for you; it drains away all hope!
Then he cries out directly to the Lord: Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath. (v.7a). It's like he says, Lord, why are you bothering with me, for my life is so fleeting, I'll soon be gone, and he concludes, my eyes will never see happiness again. (v.7b). In the midst of the anguish it seems that this is all it can ever be. Indeed there is no hope of anything more, ever again. This life is transient, so fleeting, he thinks, The eye that now sees me will see me no longer; you will look for me, but I will be no more. As a cloud vanishes and is gone. (v.8,9a). Fleeting and hopeless and no future: so he who goes down to the grave does not return. He will never come to his house again; his place will know him no more. (v.9b,10) That's it! The end!
If we've never been in this place, perhaps we find it difficult to grasp the awfulness of it. Read again Job's words that we have recorded and commented upon here. In the midst of this terrible anguish, life seems a terribly hard experience (and that is all there is!) and so he just longs for it to come to an end, but the end he has in mind is not a recovery, not a restoration; it is merely death. (He doesn't have the privilege of hope, of there being a good outcome). This life on one hand seems to drag on and on and on, and yet on the other it just seems so transient. As the end approaches, all he can see is death and then he will be gone.
This is indeed an incomplete vision! As the apostle Paul faced death again and again, he concluded, our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Phil 3:20,21). But that is the eternal future. For the present he was able to go on and say, I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13) and my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19). This was a man who could testify, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (2 Cor 6:4-10). This man walked a different path to Job yet it was often a path of anguish, but this man knew a Saviour who provided for him in the midst of the anguish. May we be the same!