|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
1-10 roughly cover Ch.1-4
11-20 roughly cover Ch.4-7
21-30 roughly cover Ch.8-11
31-40 roughly cover Ch.12-15
41-50 roughly cover Ch.16-21
51-60 cover Ch.22-33
61-68 cover Ch.34-42
Meditation No. 52
Meditation Title: Where is He?
Job 23:3,4 If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.
I have noticed that Jesus approved at the saints ‘bothering' God, as seen in his parable of the persistent widow (Lk 18:1-5). Job wants to ‘bother' God but just can't seem to make contact with him. That is the gist of chapter 23. He starts out, “Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.” (v.1,2) He would have thought that, seeing his anguish, the Lord would have drawn near, but the burden upon him remains just as heavy. Thus we come to our verses today when he makes this statement, that if only he could find God he would bring his situation before Him. If only he could find Him, “I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say.” (v.5). i.e. then at least I would be able to get His side of all this! “Would he oppose me with great power? No, he would not press charges against me.” (v.6) i.e. if I were able to get to see Him I'm sure He wouldn't slap me down, I'm sure He wouldn't condemn me! Why? Because I am sure of His righteous judgment: “There an upright man could present his case before him, and I would be delivered forever from my judge,” (v.7) and I am sure He would acquit me of wrong doing!
Yet, I can't find him: “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.” (v.8,9) i.e. He's nowhere to be found! Wherever I turn there is no sense of His presence, is what we might say. But then comes a remarkable testimony of awareness with a confidence in his own responses in what has been happening: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” (v.10-12) i.e. yet I trust in Him, that He knows what is happening to me and when He's finished with me I'll come out victorious for I have kept to His way and His word.
Rather like David in the psalms, Job concludes this section by an affirmation of the Lord's sovereignty: “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases. He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store.” (v.13,14) Yes, He is at work in all this and, no doubt, has still more to do. But that isn't a comfortable thought! “That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me.” (v.15,16) This is a terrible experience and if the Lord has yet more to do in it, that is not something to be accepted easily. He concludes with a word of determination: “Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.” (v.17)
As we look back over this chapter now, there are a couple of things that stand out. First, times of anguish come and it seems that we are utterly alone in them. As James was wont to say (Jas 1:2-4,12), we are to see such times as tests and Job affirms that here. But there is a specific feature of these sorts of tests, and that is that the Lord seems to have vanished. We seem to be utterly alone and however much we cry it, it seems some while before He seems to make His presence felt again. It is almost as if He says, “I want you to see that you can stand with the resources I have given you. I want you to remain faithful even though it seems that nothing else of my reality is real.” As David once wrote, “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psa 30:5) There may appear a ‘night' of anguish, but the morning will eventually come.
The second thing to note is that such times ARE SERIOUSLY DIFFICULT and, if we are honest, we find the thought of God disciplining, training and testing us to be something that is really scary. Now that is reality! Everything about us shies away from pain and difficulty and worry and anxiety. Normally those emotions act as a protecting force to keep us away from danger, but sometimes, the Lord in His love for us, disciplines us and that is far from pleasant (Heb 12:5,6,11). Beware the superficial Christianity that preaches that life will always be wonderful and everything will always go well. It won't! We live in a Fallen World and things go wrong. We live in a hostile world and have an enemy who wars against us. We are redeemed sinners that God is sanctifying. Now the truth is that the Lord IS always with us, even when we don't feel His presence (Heb 13:5) and He is always working on our behalf (Rom 8:28). It may not feel like it, but that is the truth and part of God's training is to bring us to the place when we can declare these truths, which ARE true, even when we don't feel them. Beware of letting feelings reign! Learn of Job.