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Some thoughts on Job

This will not be the most polished piece I've ever put out, but it's some things I've been thinking about.

Many times when someone is going through a difficult season in their life, friends who have a faith-based worldview quote Job 13:15 to the beleaguered:  "Though He [God] slay me, yet will I trust Him..."  This is supposed to be a gentle reminder of Job's great faith in the God of the Universe.  

However, if you remember Job's story, he didn't have a lot going right in his life at this point.  In a ridiculously short period of time, Job lost it all: his wealth, his children (all of them), his health, his status in the community, and most of his friends.  To add insult to injury, these losses were not the result of something Job had done wrong.  There was no reasonable earthly explanation for all of the trouble that was heaped on Job's head.  Satan had gone to God, accusing God of making things too easy on Job, thereby securing Job's faith and trust.  Let things go wrong, Satan tells God, and Job will curse you like any other.  So God allows Satan to test Job by removing his blessings one by one - only Job's life was sacrosanct.  By the time Job's last three friends show up to "encourage" him by telling him that he MUST have sinned grievously for God to punish him like God has, all Job has left is his life and his wife (who in Job 2:9 told him that he should simply curse God and die).  Job is decidedly alone in his world - grieving, sick, destitute.  Job has it seriously rough.  Yet throughout the whole process, Job doesn't sin against God because of his trials.  That doesn't mean that Job doesn't question.  It doesn't mean that Job doesn't cry out in anguish and pain, asking why God is even allowing him to live.

Beginning in chapter 12, he responds to the last of his friends, and it goes on for some time.  Job basically tells his friends to shut up.  They've said their piece, and now they're going to listen.  He marvels out loud at the unknowable ways of God, and the fact that God is utterly sovreign - even the earth knows that, he says.  And he goes on to voice his faith in God and even to plead his case to God through the conversation with his friends.  "Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him," Job says.  Some translations replace "trust" with "hope."  But if you keep reading, Job isn't serenely taking it on the chin.  Job voices his resolve to trust God even unto his own death, but Job isn't necessarily okay with what's happening.  As his friends continue to come at him, Job's frustration mounts.  In chapter 14, Job even asks God to ease up on humanity (and by virtue, Job himself) - to cut us a break.  In fact, Job's debate with his friends goes on for 24 more chapters, and in those chapters, Job gets angry with his friends, with himself, and with his circumstances.  He cries out for understanding, and he rails against it all in the mother of all pity parties (not that he didn't deserve to have one by human standards).

Finally in chapter 38, God steps in and sets Job straight.  "Where were you?" God asks Job in regards to the beginning of the world.  God reminds Job that He is indeed the sovreign God and has always been so.  For four more chapters, God recounts His majesty, His love and His absolute preeminence.  In the middle of it, Job simply tells God that he is ready to be quiet and listen - to take in what God has to say.  And at the end, Job repentantly gives over his doubts and worships God.  He is restored to a right relationship with God, and eventually (when the time of testing has passed) God restores double to Job.

I guess I've said all that to say this:  It's easy to cling to words like "Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him," when things are going well.  But when we are in the midst of overwhelming crisis, when we have been in the center of the turmoil for more time than we can remember and we can't see a way out, sometimes our faith fails us.  We get weary in well-doing, especially when we feel we aren't being well-done-to.  We get sick and tired of trials that tax our physical, mental and spiritual strength.  We trust Him with our salvation, but we wonder what the heck He's doing with our life.  We WANT to speak like Job, but we don't have it in us right that moment or that day or even that week.  In those times, remember that Job didn't maintain His serenity the entire time either.  Job struggled with exhaustion, illness, grief and anger.  God finally had to step in and jerk Job up by his ears to remind him that God is in control of it all, even when Job didn't understand the reasoning.

If Job can falter and struggle, so can I.  And if God can restore Job, He'll restore me, too, even when my faith stumbles.

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