Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Enigma of Job #2

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man! I will question you, and you will answer ME! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?!” (Job 38:3-4a)

Poor Job. In the middle of his demands to talk to God face to face and plead his case of innocence, God actually showed up. Can you imagine? If God actually showed up every time I demanded answers from Him... *shudder* ...I don't even want to think about it. And boy, was God ever angry.

Don't get Him wrong: it wasn't Job's lamenting of, "This hurts! I can't do this! Please take the pain away!" that got to God. We're invited to "by prayer and supplication make our requests known to God" (Philippians 4:6b). No, it was the whining of, "I don't deserve this," and "God's wrong for doing this to me," that necessitated an intervention. We can see Job's point, can't we? His suffering was the product of a bet between God and Satan. How much less deserving can you get that that? I've been driven to that same point once or twice. It's a natural(ly sinful) place for our hearts and minds to go when we're bombarded with bad luck, hardships, and suffering: WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS??? NOTHING!!!, everything? Job's assumption that he was blameless was a sin. No one is righteous apart from Christ. Me? Oh, I'm certainly not assuming I'm anywhere near blameless, believe me, but am I really this much to blame? Well, yeah. On the one hand, we all deserve suffering, and to what degree is notwithstanding: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 2:23). But on the other and more important hand, what we deserve isn't the point. And thank God for that. God is not punishing us. He doesn't work that way because Jesus died for the sin of the world and the sins of everyone in it. God wasn't punishing Job. On the contrary, Job got a much-needed chance to repent, and repent he did. He realized that he needed a savior just as much as the next guy (see The Enigma of Job #1). But that wasn't the only point to Job's suffering.

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon 
Do you think Job—all covered in boils and ashes and being yelled at by God—ever dreamed he'd be in the Bible? But he is. He's part of that beautiful Means of Grace and a comfort throughout the ages. And of course, there is Jesus: the number one point to all suffering everywhere. Yes, Jesus died for Job, too. (We can get into the whole retro-activity of the crucifixion, which occurred both within time and outside of time some other... er time). That means Jesus took on Job's suffering, and Job then participated in a small part of Jesus' suffering in his trials.

I don't know what our individual lessons are or if there are any. I really don't, but I do know that God promises our suffering isn't for nothing. No, none of us will end up in the Bible: that's already been written from beginning to end. But God knows what comfort, what hope, what peace we can bring when people look at us in our sorry states and we simply point to the cross, and we know it too. So, maybe the chance to repent isn't the point for you. Maybe your suffering has nothing to do with you. Maybe your hardship is for the sake of someone else altogether, for a purpose greater than you can even imagine.

Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day is Psalm 119:169b
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
"Give me understanding -------> 5 count inhale
according to Your Word." -------> 5 count exhale

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