1 Then Job answered and said:
2 “Today also my complaint is bitter;
my hand is heavy on account of my groaning.
3 Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
that I might come even to his seat!
4 I would lay my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
5 I would know what he would answer me
and understand what he would say to me.
6 Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?
No; he would pay attention to me.
7 There an upright man could argue with him,
and I would be acquitted forever by my judge.
8 “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
and backward, but I do not perceive him;
9 on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
11 My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
12 I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
13 But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does.
14 For he will complete what he appoints for me,
and many such things are in his mind.
15 Therefore I am terrified at his presence;
when I consider, I am in dread of him.
16 God has made my heart faint;
the Almighty has terrified me;
17 yet I am not silenced because of the darkness,
nor because thick darkness covers my face.” – Job 23:1-17 ESV
Let’s face it. We can’t always understand what God is doing. His ways are sometimes mysterious and even frustrating. Like Job, we look for Him, but can’t seem to find Him anywhere. It’s as if He is hidden from our sight. But Job makes a profound statement that should bring us assurance and comfort: “But he knows the way that I take” (Job 23:10 ESV). In other words, Job was confident that God knew exactly where he was and where he was going. That phrase could be translated, “He knows where to look for me.”
Amid all his troubles, Job still believed that God was fully aware of all that was going on in his life. Despite the assumptions of his friends, Job was confident that had not lost sight of him, even for a moment. God had not gotten distracted or turned His back on His beleaguered servant. At no point in this sad story was God caught off guard or shocked by some unexpected change in Job’s circumstances. No, God was right with Job every step of the way.
Of course, there were times when Job felt a growing distance between himself and God. It was only natural for him to question God’s presence when everything was caving in around him. And yet, Job seemed to know that God was always near.
“I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him. But he knows where I am going. And when he has tested me like gold in a fire, he will pronounce me innocent. For I have stayed in God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.”– Job 23:9-11 NLT
Job found encouragement in the knowledge that God was faithful, if not always visible. He was watching and, for some inexplicable reason, waiting to step in and rescue Job. Despite the test in which he found himself, Job knew that God would eventually vindicate him and pronounce him innocent. While Job’s three friends were convinced of his guilt, he knew that God would come to his defense and set the record straight. Job inherently knew that God had a plan for his life, and that plan included all that was happening at the moment. He didn’t fully understand or like his circumstances, but Job knew there was a divine purpose behind it all.
So, Job continues to claim his innocence. He declares that he has remained faithful to God and has treasured His words. But then he states, “Nevertheless, his mind concerning me remains unchanged, and who can turn him from his purposes? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny” (Job 23:13-14 NLT).
Job seems to understand that this is not all about his guilt or innocence. It is about the sovereign will of God for his life. God controls his destiny. What He has set out to do, He will do. Nothing Job does will change that. You can detect a little frustration in Job’s statement, and I don’t blame him. I have been there more often than I would care to admit. I have found myself frustrated by God’s plan for my life. Like Job, I know God is in control, and so I get frustrated that He can’t come up with a better scenario for my life than the one He has chosen. Sure, I know I contribute to my own problems by bad decisions and outright sin, but sometimes it just seems like things take a turn for the worse and I didn’t particularly do anything to “deserve” it. But that’s when I have to remind myself that God’s ways are perfect. And His love for me is flawless. He has the best in store for me. I am His child. He is my Father, And I can trust Him.
There are going to be days of darkness. Difficulties will come. Job knew that. In fact, he was in the middle of it.
“Darkness is all around me; thick, impenetrable darkness is everywhere.” – Job 23:17 NLT).
Emotionally speaking, Job couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. He couldn’t see his God either but he knew that God was in control. That was his hope in the midst of his hopelessness. And it should be ours as well. Our God is both powerful and merciful. He sees us. Not only that, He loves us, and we are safely ensconced in the plan He has for us – no matter how the circumstances may appear.
When I find myself in a difficult situation with questions running through my mind and doubts racing through my heart, may the following prayer come to my lips:
Father, Your plan for me is perfect, but sometimes it is so hard to see, let alone understand. I feel like you are not there sometimes. I feel like I can’t find you. But You remind me that You can always see me. You never take Your eyes off of me. You hold me in the palm of Your hand. You love me and are looking out for me. Help me see You in the midst of my trials. Help me trust You in the middle of my scariest moments. I know you don’t have to explain Your ways to me, but help me to trust them. Amen.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.