I’m going to admit it publicly. I have never read the book of Job. I haven’t. You should admit it too. I think most Christians have read the Cliff notes. I have never read every single word. I was supposed to in college when I went to a Bible school. I’m sure I wrote a good paper on it. But the truth is when I started reading it recently I was a little bit shocked really. I had a really cloudy view of what was really going on.
And I think that if all of us actually read the thing, we would all pretty much collectively SHUT THE HECK UP when we suffer or try to console those suffering. We as a Church would know that pretty much anything you are going to say – all the things we DO tend to say in times of extreme sadness and pain and brokenness – are in a word – LAME. For all the wisdom we try to muster and the excuses and the admonishments we deal out, we are just heaping coals and judgment on our heads, betraying our own ignorance of the very character of God.
I admit also that I skipped to the end. I’ll go back I promise. But I got to the last couple parts and realized that there was a 4th friend – I always thought there were 3 – and that he was the youngest and turned out the wisest of them all, even Job. His focus? God. What a novel idea! His speech centered around the sovereignty of God and His creation and how they were all quick to judge others and not acknowledge that God allows suffering in the world for our good, to make us stronger and more relient on Him.
If we never suffered, would we ever turn to Him? It’s a question we must ask ourselves. When things go well for us, do we fall flat on our faces in self pity and longing and grief? Maybe we should. Maybe when things are good we should mourn and when things are bad we should celebrate. Maybe the best thing we can do in the midst of agony is to go sit at the beach and think about the sea creatures in the fathoms below – because that’s what God told Job. He said, look at this crazy stupid creature I made, the “wriggling serpent” as Isaiah calls him. It’s ridiculous and the most fantastic thing you will ever know, and I made it and I tell it what to do. You don’t. And to that Job said, basically, I don’t know !@##$. But I know You.
My husband’s testimony of the past few years includes this hauntingly beautiful moment. If I were to make a movie of his life, which I might… maybe… haha… it would include this moment of Rob coming to this part in Job where God says “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” It’s like the ultimate “owned” moment. Like God could have said, wait, are you still talking? Job himself even says, I opened my mouth like an idiot and now I will put my hand over my mouth because I am that dumb to think I have something to say.
We are so very small and frail. We have such little understanding. Even the wisest of us has only humility and flees all arrogance. It truly amazes me that God loves us, that He watches over us, that He does anything at all for us. And oh what He does!
It makes me sad and physically weak to think of all we go through, what I personally have faced and more so what my husband has been through in his life. It breaks my heart to think of his pain and sorrow. But the encouragement of course is that he stayed the course, that he came to that place in Job, that he repented and gave these sufferings to His Creator. And while I still hate the pain and hardship he went through, I cannot help, in some way, to celebrate it. That sounds cruel and heartless. I know Rob knows that’s not how I mean it and I hope you do too. But all that we face and triumph over brings us ever closer to the character of God, to knowing Him intimately and to know that He is good. And so I can’t help but be a little bit “happy” in some ways for all the things that make Rob who he is today. And I can’t help but be grateful that all those things led him to me, as did the road of my life to him.
And then the amazing grace of our suffering Savior – the ultimate example of suffering for a cause – comes slapping us upside our heads. This for you. Remember. Whatever you have gone through, whatever experience and emotion you have felt, he went through it before you, and he leads the way. And like a sea creature, Jesus will in that final day slay all of our pain and all our sadness and all of our earthly groans for ever more. Come quickly.