Gratitude is Good Medicine

1 “But now they laugh at me,
    men who are younger than I,
whose fathers I would have disdained
    to set with the dogs of my flock.
What could I gain from the strength of their hands,
    men whose vigor is gone?
Through want and hard hunger
    they gnaw the dry ground by night in waste and desolation;
they pick saltwort and the leaves of bushes,
    and the roots of the broom tree for their food.
They are driven out from human company;
    they shout after them as after a thief.
In the gullies of the torrents they must dwell,
    in holes of the earth and of the rocks.
Among the bushes they bray;
    under the nettles they huddle together.
A senseless, a nameless brood,
    they have been whipped out of the land.

“And now I have become their song;
    I am a byword to them.
10 They abhor me; they keep aloof from me;
    they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.
11 Because God has loosed my cord and humbled me,
    they have cast off restraint in my presence.
12 On my right hand the rabble rise;
    they push away my feet;
    they cast up against me their ways of destruction.
13 They break up my path;
    they promote my calamity;
    they need no one to help them.
14 As through a wide breach they come;
    amid the crash they roll on.
15 Terrors are turned upon me;
    my honor is pursued as by the wind,
    and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud.

16 “And now my soul is poured out within me;
    days of affliction have taken hold of me.
17 The night racks my bones,
    and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.
18 With great force my garment is disfigured;
    it binds me about like the collar of my tunic.
19 God has cast me into the mire,
    and I have become like dust and ashes.
20 I cry to you for help and you do not answer me;
    I stand, and you only look at me.
21 You have turned cruel to me;
    with the might of your hand you persecute me.
22 You lift me up on the wind; you make me ride on it,
    and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.
23 For I know that you will bring me to death
    and to the house appointed for all living.

24 “Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand,
    and in his disaster cry for help?
25 Did not I weep for him whose day was hard?
    Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
26 But when I hoped for good, evil came,
    and when I waited for light, darkness came.
27 My inward parts are in turmoil and never still;
    days of affliction come to meet me.
28 I go about darkened, but not by the sun;
    I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
29 I am a brother of jackals
    and a companion of ostriches.
30 My skin turns black and falls from me,
    and my bones burn with heat.
31 My lyre is turned to mourning,
    and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.Job 30:1-31 ESV

Job’s moment of reminiscence is followed by a painful realization that there’s no going back. All that he has lost is gone forever and, from what he can ascertain, it is all the handiwork of God. To make matters worse, Job feels as if God has emasculated him, leaving him defenseless against all those who would do him harm or further damage his reputation. He describes himself as being surrounded by a host of individuals, both young and old, who seem determined to grind his life and name into the mud.

“I am mocked by people younger than I,
    by young men whose fathers are not worthy to run with my sheepdogs. – Job 30:1 NLT

“…they mock me with vulgar songs!
    They taunt me!
They despise me and won’t come near me,
    except to spit in my face. – Job 30:9-10 NLT

And Job holds God responsible for the relentless attacks of these despicable people.

God has cut my bowstring.
    He has humbled me,
    so they have thrown off all restraint. – Job 30:11 NLT

Part of the frustration he feels is his inability to be able to defend himself. It is as if God has sent him into battle without a reliable weapon or ammunition. He is easy prey to all those who mean to do him harm, and the number of his enemies increases daily. Job describes himself as being surrounded and overwhelmed with no one to come to his aid or defense. He is convinced that God has abandoned him.

They block my road
    and do everything they can to destroy me.
They know I have no one to help me. – Job 30:13 NLT

According to Job’s estimation, he has suffered a litany of indignities at the hands of his oppressors. They mock and taunt him. They treat him with disrespect, avoiding him like the plague and only coming close in order to spit in his face. His enemies lay traps for him and attack him when he is weak and defenseless. The effects of all this mistreatment is a deep depression and a growing sense of despondency and defeat. Job has nowhere to turn and no one he can count on to come to his aid.

He even describes God as joining in the abuse, having grabbed him by the collar and cast him into the mud. His enemies kick him while he’s down but it is God who put him in that vulnerable position. The middle portion of this speech reveals the depth of Job’s despair as he levels his charges against God.

“I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer.
    I stand before you, but you don’t even look.
You have become cruel toward me.
    You use your power to persecute me.
You throw me into the whirlwind
    and destroy me in the storm.
And I know you are sending me to my death—
    the destination of all who live. – Job 30:20-23 NLT

He accuses God of neglect. No matter how often or hard Job has cried to God, his pleas have been met with indifference. It is now to the point where he feels as if God gone from being disinterested in his plight to being an active participant in his pain and suffering. He accuses God of being אַכְזָר (‘aḵzār), a Hebrew word that means “to act harshly” and implies cruel treatment to the point of death. In other words, he is convinced that God is out to kill him. He even suggests that God is sending him to his death.

At this point, Job can’t comprehend why all of this is happening to him. He recalls the many times when he was the friend of the helpless and hopeless. In his former life, when he was healthy, happy, and whole, he would “weep for those in trouble” and he “grieved for the needy” (Job 30:25 NLT). Isn’t that the right thing to do, he asks. Wouldn’t a righteous God expect His people to treat one another with love and care, not cruelty and harshness?

But when Job looks for good, all he finds is evil. When he could use a bit of help and hope, all he gets is a steady diet of mockery, cruelty, and false accusations – even from the hand of God. And this state of affairs has left him in a deep pit of despair.

“My heart is troubled and restless.
    Days of suffering torment me.
I walk in gloom, without sunlight.
    I stand in the public square and cry for help.” – Job 30:27-28 NLT

It’s interesting to note that in chapter 29, Job spent a great deal of time recalling and lamenting his former glory days. His memory took him back to the good old days when things were so much better. But while he look back longingly and remembers those trouble-free days, at no point does he thank God for making it all possible. This oversight on Job’s part is glaring when you consider the words he spoke after the first news of disaster struck his life in the opening chapter.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21 ESV

Job had just received the devastating news that he had lost all his flocks and herds as well as all ten of his adult children. Yet, he was able to bless God. But now, we find him throwing himself a pity party and bemoaning his lonely and ill-fated life. He doesn’t thank God for all the amazing benefits he enjoyed during the vast majority of his life. Instead, he wallows in the memory of his former state and complains about the less-than-enjoyable nature of his current circumstances. It was an unknown psalmist called Asaph who recorded the following words from God:

“Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God,
    and keep the vows you made to the Most High.
Then call on me when you are in trouble,
    and I will rescue you,
    and you will give me glory.” – Psalm 50:14-15 NLT

God went on to say, “…giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23 NLT). Job was so busy deluging God with his complaints and declarations of mistreatment, that he forgot to thank God for all the wonderful blessings he had enjoyed. God had blessed him with life, health, financial prosperity, a large family, and a good reputation. Job had not earned or deserved any of those things. Now that they were gone, he longed to have them back but he failed to thank the One who had made them possible in the first place.

While Job had a rock-solid memory regarding his former life, he couldn’t seem to remember the words he spoke when his health first failed.

Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” – Job 2:10 NLT

Job suffered from selective memory loss. As time passed, he became less and less willing to accept anything bad from the hand of God. He didn’t like the cards he had been dealt and was anxious to see God remedy the situation as soon as possible. Job was running out of patience and hope, and it seemed that his well of gratitude had run dry as well.

For all his reminiscing, Job struggled with forgetfulness that produced in him an unhealthy ungratefulness. God would have Job repent and remember just how blessed his life had been.

“Repent, all of you who forget me,
    or I will tear you apart,
    and no one will help you.
But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
    If you keep to my path,
    I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” – Psalm 50:22-23 NLT

Job didn’t need any more lectures from his friends, but God didn’t need any advice or criticism from Job either. They say gratitude is good medicine and the apostle Paul would have wholeheartedly agreed.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT

Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. – Colossians 3:16-17 NLT

Gratitude has a way of changing one’s attitude. If Job could learn to give thanks as readily as he complained, his outlook on life would undergo a dramatic change. But his near-sighted focus on his circumstances left him with a distorted view of God and a disgruntled outlook on life and eternity.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

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.