Honest to God
“Isn’t it clear that they all know and agree that GOD is sovereign, that he holds all things in his hand – Every living soul, yes, every breathing creature? Isn’t this all just common sense, as common as the sense of taste?“ – Job 12:9-11 MSG
For Job, the idea that God was somehow responsible for his condition was a no-brainer. Whether or not God had caused it was not the issue. God was in control and so, ultimately, God was responsible. He could have prevented the disasters and disease that had impacted the life of Job, but He hadn’t. Job fully understood the power and might of God. He knew that God was providentially in control over the affairs of all men – rich and poor, strong and weak, righteous and unrighteous. Job goes on to say, “True wisdom and real power belong to God; from him we learn how to live, and also what to live for. If he tears something down, it’s down for good; if he locks people up, they’re locked up for good. If he holds back the rain, there’s a drought; if he lets it loose, there’s a flood. Strength and success belong to God; both deceived and deceiver must answer to him” (Job 12:13-15 MSG). Job knew that God alone had the answer to why he was suffering. He was convinced that it had nothing to do with his sin. Job’s friends kept blaming his condition on his sinfulness, but couldn’t tell him what he had done to deserve it. Job knew he was innocent, and he knew God knew he was innocent. So there had to be another reason for his suffering. And all he wanted was the chance to ask God face to face, so he tells his friends, “I’m taking my case straight to God Almighty; I’ve had it with you – I’m going directly to God” (Job 13:3 MSG). He was done listening to them and he tells them so, “You graffiti my life with lies. You’re a bunch of pompous quacks! I wish you’d shut your mouths–silence is your only claim to wisdom” (Job 13:4-5 MSG).
Job wants to go directly to the source of his hope and help – God Himself. His friends have proven to have poor bedside manners. They have been more hurtful than helpful. Job knows they can’t answer his questions or solve his problem. So he turns to God and asks, “Please, God, I have two requests; grant them so I’ll know I count with you: First, lay off the afflictions; the terror is too much for me. Second, address me directly so I can answer you, or let me speak and then you answer me” (Job 13:20-21 MSG). I love Job’s brutal honesty. He doesn’t hide his request with fancy “thees” and “thous.” He doesn’t mask his frustration with flowery prose or pious-sounding prayer-speak. He just tells God exactly what is on his heart. He asks for relief and answers.
What a reminder that we have a God who is big enough to handle our toughest questions. He can handle our frustration and the honest expression of them. In fact, I think God would rather have us honest with Him than to cover up our fears and frustrations with religious-sounding platitudes that we don’t believe or understand. In the middle of a trial when things are going severely wrong and your frustration is mounting, I don’t think God wants to hear you say, “Oh, Mighty God, maker of all things and ruler over all mankind, thank you for putting me through all this pain and suffering. Thank you for all the hurt and the heartache! You are a good God!” God knows our hearts. He knows what we are thinking. He wants us to confess what is on our heart to Him. He can handle our honesty, but He can’t stand our poor attempts at fake faithfulness. If we can give God a heart-felt “I trust You!,” so be it. But too often we express words to God that we don’t feel or believe. Job was telling God exactly what he was feeling. And tough times tend to make us more honest. During trials, it is harder to keep up the fake veneer of faithfulness. Job’s faith was being tested and he was looking for answers, for proof. So he turned to God.
Psalm 119 could have been written by Job. It is full of honest expressions of fear and frustration, doubt and disenchantment. But the writer of Psalms 119 knew he could turn to God and openly express his feelings. “I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post your road signs at every curve and corner. I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me; GOD, don’t let me down! I’ll run the course you lay out for me if you’ll just show me how. GOD, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course” (Psalms 119:30-33 MSG). Where do you turn in the tough times? Do you turn to God? Do you tell Him what you’re feeling or do you try and cover it up with pious-sounding words and false expressions of praise? Be honest with Him. Tell Him what’s on your heart. Share your hurts. Open up about your doubts. He can handle it.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men