|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
Meditation No. 27
Meditation Title: Be Honest!
Job 10:1 I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.
As a Christian pastor I sometimes struggle at coping with people. It is not the people who are loud or angry or bitter or hostile. No, they are not the problem; it is the Christians who cannot be real. These are the Christians who are ALWAYS ‘fine'! They always have a testimony of how wonderful God has been to them. They also tend to be a bit brash. And they never tell about their doubts and fears because “Christians shouldn't have doubts and fears.” It is only when the disasters of life fall, that their superficial exterior is cracked and the real shows through. Now before we go on to look at Job, I think I am required to say to those who feel hurt by these words that, yes, I do believe in victorious Christian living but it is more the “glory in earthen vessels” (2 Cor 4:7). Jesus came full of grace and truth, and we are to be a people of truth, not afraid to face how we really are. How are we really? Frail but glorious children of God who on a bad day can feel very frail, weak and even alone – and that is not a sin!
When we continue to look at what Job is feeling, we need to remind ourselves yet again that at the end of the book the Lord did not chide him for speaking badly against Him. That is important to hang on to. For some of us who feel somewhat insecure in God's love for us, we may struggle with this and we prefer to point fingers when someone doesn't measure up to our expectations. The only thing is that the Lord doesn't have the same approach because He knows the future as well as the present and He knows how it will turn out and how we will work out. Perhaps this is why He doesn't deal with us harshly, as some of us expect Him to do.
There are many who have the James and John mentality, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Lk 9:54 ), “But Jesus turned and rebuked them.” (v.55) Jesus is more concerned to help us change than he is to destroy us. Perhaps he remembers his Father's words, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezek 18:23). Father and Son much prefer us to be changed and saved rather than destroyed. They are working to change us. They understand what we are like. It is only those who are utterly set in their ways, like Pharaoh in Exodus (and we won't know who they are) and who the Lord knows will not change, that He removes. Even then, I am sure there are other reasons why the Lord takes His children home prematurely sometimes. So let's see where Job has got to.
As we start chapter 10 we find him reiterating what he feels about his life and we have to say again, by way of reminder, that if you've never been in this state, you would do well to hold in any negative comments about him. He is desperate which is why he comes out with what, in any other circumstances, would be a very silly comment: “therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.” Because he is past caring, he's just going to speak out. Now if you are insecure in God's love, you may read with horror Job's words and you may look for a lightning bolt that you expect to come and strike him down! But God understands His kids. That's got to be a major underlying lesson that comes through in these studies. When little children come home from school, the wise mother knows that they are cranky because they have low blood sugar levels, and so rather than chide them, simply seeks to get some calories into them. If someone is nasty to us about us, we may be sufficiently insecure about ourselves that we get stressed, but God is too big to do that. He is utterly secure in Himself and doesn't have to feel defensive about silly words from some of His children in bad places. He understands and has compassion!
So listen to where Job dares to go in this “I don't care” attitude. He pours out a whole load of accusatory questions. “I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me.” (v.2). Why doesn't God answer him here? Because He hasn't got a whole load of charges against Job, so He just lets His son pour it all out.
“Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?” (v.3). No son, this is breaking my heart and so I certainly don't smile over what is happening to you, but I'll wait until you get here to tell you about that and you can watch with me how my Son is going to anguish over my people when he goes down in human form.
“Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees?” (v.4). Well actually in this moment in history, no, son, but in the wider history yes, so that I do actually know it now, because we are going to step into human flesh and live out some thirty three years on earth, but you wouldn't understand that at this moment if I told you, so I won't.
“Are your days like those of a mortal or your years like those of a man, that you must search out my faults and probe after my sin.” (v.5,6) No, son, I don't have to be picky and pick up on other people's faults. Those are the actions of the insecure and hurting and I am neither of these, but you won't understand that yet, so forgive me if I don't reply!
“Though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand?” (v.7) You speak truth, son, for indeed I do know you are not guilty and indeed you are helpless in these circumstances which I have allowed, but hang in there because they won't last forever, but I can't say that to you at the moment, because part of it is coping with not knowing that.
Is that how the Lord might have been thinking as He listened to Job? Perhaps, perhaps not, but from what Scripture tells us of the Lord, I suspect they may not be far from the truth. You see it is a strange and mind-bending truth that God operates in the present, it seems, but knows everything in the future. So at this moment He is listening to Job ranting on, but He peeks into the future and He sees Job's humble responses at the end of the book, and so in His love, He remains silent, does nothing but just feels with Job.
Does all this excuse Job? Well why do you want to assess and judge him? God is not judging him, (that is clear later in the book), so why should we? Is Job being silly? In any other circumstances, possibly, but in the living hell he is experiencing, perhaps not, and if you're still not sure, ask the Lord to take you in your imagination into what it must be like, to have had everything you own snatched away, everyone you love (except a nagging wife!) snatched away, and then dumped on with some terrible disease that disfigures you, causes you intense pain and discomfort. If you can think into that, then think about how you would like the Lord to deal with you, as you mutter (yes you will, you do when the weather is bad or you get a cold!) and grumble and far worse. In the place of ‘I'm past caring' you will say silly things. Afterwards, you will be incredibly glad that God's love just coped with you and felt with you and did nothing more! You need the revelation? Pray for it!