|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
|Meditation No. 7|
|Meditation Title: Options|
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
Job 2:7-10 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
The book of Job is a difficult book on at least two levels. First of all, once you pass these first two chapters it settles down to a long series of difficult dialogues and monologues and they are difficult in that they are a mixture of truth, half truth and non-truth and once we get there our exercise is to try to discern which is what. If you're not sure of what I mean you either haven't read those chapters or you've never read any commentaries on them and seen the variety of ways it is possible to look at them. I personally believe we are about to move towards some of the most difficult writing in the Bible. The second level of difficulty in Job is that it presents us with some serious and uncomfortable challenges. Our verses above bring one of the major challenges that this book must bring to us.
So we've gone through the God-interviewing-Satan bit in heaven again and as a result Satan has permission to extend his attack on Job's life to include attacking his body. Perhaps we shouldn't rush past this too quickly. Job gets covered with sores from head to toe and the record said Satan did it. Satan had God's delegated authority to inflict Job with this. Now when I look around this modern world I see an amazing amount of affliction. I hear scientists trying to explain why we are suffering so many allergies, blaming them on things we put into the food chain and so on, yet I wonder, just wonder, is this part of the package of stuff that God allows Satan to bring against ungodly societies of the West to bring them to their senses and to seek Him? When we find ourselves afflicted, what is our first reaction, I wonder.
Initially, I suggest, our reactions can be godly or ungodly, and by that I mean we can refer it to God or not. Ungodly here simply means we leave God completely out of the equation. But we can also be ungodly in another way and Job's wife reveals that. Job and his wife show us two options – and we can choose how we will respond! Job is in a dire state, covered from head to toe in boils or scabs or sores. It is incredibly painful and he also itches and so, in a place of mourning, a place of ashes which were used for mourning, he scrapes at himself in desperation. He is an unpleasant mess and he has every reason to be upset. His wife understands the issues. You can believe in Satan and you can believe in chance or misfortune, but if you believe in God, He has got to be the Ultimate Power, the One who can do what He likes, and if He wanted He could have stopped this happening!
Yes, that is the stopping place with all this, from our standpoint. If God is all-powerful then He could have stopped this happening to me! Why didn't He? Yes, Job's wife understands that and so she chides Job. For goodness sake, she demands, why are you so intent on holding on to this so-called integrity of yours. You are wrong. God could have stopped this. God could stop it now. For goodness sake, be real, speak out what you feel, curse Him and get it over with quickly. He's obviously got it in for you! I wonder how much of that Satan put into her mind? It's not only a physical attack going on here, it's also a mental attack. Get Job to curse God; that is Satan's intention.
I believe the same thing was happening on the Cross with Jesus. The battle that went on there was whether Jesus could remain the sinless Lamb of God in the face of the terrible pain and anguish. But it was more than that. Psalm 22 is a Messianic psalm that more than any other catches something of the unseen battle that was raging: “Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me." (Psa 22:12,13) I believe this describes the demonic hoards who railed at him and challenged him to curse God in his anguish, just like Job's wife did with Job. When you are in deep pain and everything seems to be going wrong and you are in deep anguish, this is the peak of the battle when the enemy comes and whispers to you, “It's all God's fault! Curse Him!” That is one option that is open to us if we want to side with the enemy who is already afflicting us.
But we see the other option in Job: Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? Job has got the right perspective. It's like he says, “Look, we're very happy to take all the good things God gave. If, in His wisdom, He feels that this is the best thing for us at the moment, then so be it.” That is really what is implied in what we have in the record. Faith is responding positively when God speaks and guides us. Trust is responding positively when God says nothing and we appear alone. Trust says that I will be secure in what I know of the Lord. I know He loves me and He always works for my best. I don't know what He's doing at the moment allowing this to happen to me, but I so trust in His love for me that I will get His grace to cope with it for as long as He allows it.
Christian history is full of testimonies of God's people who have lived this out in the face of persecution and general opposition. There was an important little ingredient in what we've just been saying, that needs highlighting. It is the reference to God's grace. Grace in this context is simply God's resource that enables us to cope. At the very minimum it is His presence.
I know of a couple who walked faithfully with God and then went through a Job time and everything seemed to go wrong. As it got worse and worse, and as I prayed for them, it seemed like they were having everything taken away from them and all that was left, it seemed, was existing in a pitch black room of darkness. Yet in that pitch blackness they became aware that they were not alone. HE was there with them in the darkness. I have also known of someone suffering mental illness so that reality itself was challenged, and yet in the midst of that chaos and confusion, there came a sense that HE was there. In both cases that was all that was needed. I am not alone. HE is here and HE understands and is with me. That was enough. Of course there are those many other times when it doesn't get as bad as that and we simply find that somehow there is some faint resource within that holds us, that keeps us, and sees us through. It is His grace.
So, when all hell seems to fall upon us, we have two options, to be like Job's wife, or to be like Job. As we make that decision, a major battle is either being won or lost. I wonder how many victorious battle medals you will find you have when you eventually get to heaven?