|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
Meditation No. 19
Meditation Title: Words from Hopelessness
Job 7:11 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.
We said the other day, that not only is the book of Job about the testing of Job, but it was also the testing of the friends AND it tests us. Jesus, in his teaching, indicated that how people responded to him, revealed the state of their hearts before God. How could any person with a good heart before God criticise Jesus when he did so much good, healing the sick, delivering the possessed and raising the dead. How could any righteous person criticise his teaching. No, the critics revealed the state of their hearts. It's the same for a person who criticises a beautiful piece of music and reveals they have no music in their soul, or the person who criticises a wonderful work of art, who shows they have no comprehension of beauty or art. No, we are revealed by our responses, and Job reveals our state of heart more than most people in the Bible.
If you have come to these readings and find yourself criticising Job, you simply tell me that you have led a sheltered life and have never been through trying circumstances. People who have been through the mill', people who have been crushed by the adversities of life, tend to be people of understanding, people of gentle spirit, people of compassion. If you have missed out on the anguishes of life, be thankful. Give thanks for the Lord's goodness that you have known. If you have walked the corridors of darkness, thank the Lord that He has brought you through, a tried and tested and purified person and feel for Job!
Remember Job has already expressed something of what he feels: life is just one long ongoing blur of pain with no hope of anything good at the end of it, just death. In other words, as we've noted previously, it has imposed on him a sense of utter hopelessness. So, can we understand, that it is because he feels hopeless (no sense of a future) that he speaks intemperately. At the beginning of our verse today is that crucial word, Therefore. It says that as a result of all that has gone before (which we've just looked at) he's not going to keep quiet, but he's going to let out all the anguish, pain and frustration that he feels inside. He is going to speak out of the anguish of my spirit, and because he feels there is a cause to be addressed, he says he will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Note the word complain'. When we have a complaint, we feel there is something wrong that needs putting right, and we do it by complaining to whoever it is who has the power to correct it. Obviously here, God has the power to do that! So he's going to talk to the Lord about it.
Let's see the beginning of his complaint: Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep, that you put me under guard? (v.12) Solomon spoke about the Lord who, gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, (Prov 8:28). The picture is of the Lord limiting the extent of the sea to give mankind land to live upon. Without restraint the oceans are dangerous and destructive. Similarly some of the great sea creatures are dangerous if unrestrained by the sea. Thus Job is complaining as if to say, Excuses me, but am I dangerous that I need reining in by suffering?
Then he continues as if to say, Yet, look at what you've made me. Was this necessary? (implied) : When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions. (v.13,14). He's saying, Look I am a physical wreck. When I feel so weak that I collapse on my bed and try to sleep, all that happens is that you seem to give me nightmares! There is no respite, awake or asleep! And the result? Anything is better than this! so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine. I despise my life; I would not live forever. (v.15,16a). This is what it's come to; this anguish is so great and there seems no possible end, he would rather someone came along and killed him.
Earlier on, in his initial lament, he cried out against the fact that it seemed that his life was being prolonged instead of being allowed to die, so now he concludes, Let me alone; my days have no meaning. (v.16b) From his terrible perspective he can see no point whatsoever to what is happening and so he wants the Lord to leave him alone and let him die but, as we observed previously, he has only partial vision, he can only see a part of the whole thing. He doesn't realise that all of heaven is looking on and watching to see if he will uphold the Lord's faith in him, because that is what this is all about. The Lord trusts Job to come through this well, just like us today, the church: through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. (Eph 3:10) The way we respond on earth to such trials, can bring glory to God as the heavenly watchers see God's grace in us.
Don't be surprised at how Job is responding because he is under the worst forms of suffering possible. Remember that even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane shied away from the ordeal in front of him: My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. (Mt 26:39). We are dealing with natural human responses here and, yes, today we can take comfort in the revelation that we now have that. my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19), but that doesn't mean that it's not an ordeal, and Job didn't have that revelation yet. No, Job only has half a picture the bad half and it seems hopeless. He can't see the end of the story where he will be completely restored.
That's the trouble, so often, we can't see the end of the episode through which we are going. If we could it might help considerably. The writer to the Hebrews referred to Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross. (Heb 12:2). Jesus totally trusted everything he knew about his Father, that the end of this was going to be great joy in heaven, which is why, in Gethsemane, he concluded that earlier prayer with, Yet not as I will, but as you will. (Mt 26:39). For us today, with the revelation we have, we must trust to the knowledge that God is love (1 Jn 4:8) and that, in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28 ). We have all these helps today. Job didn't have. Job is walking in virgin territory and it's difficult for him.