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.

The Time to Shut Up and Look Up

1 And Job again took up his discourse, and said:

“Oh, that I were as in the months of old,
    as in the days when God watched over me,
when his lamp shone upon my head,
    and by his light I walked through darkness,
as I was in my prime,
    when the friendship of God was upon my tent,
when the Almighty was yet with me,
    when my children were all around me,
when my steps were washed with butter,
    and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!
When I went out to the gate of the city,
    when I prepared my seat in the square,
the young men saw me and withdrew,
    and the aged rose and stood;
the princes refrained from talking
    and laid their hand on their mouth;
10 the voice of the nobles was hushed,
    and their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth.
11 When the ear heard, it called me blessed,
    and when the eye saw, it approved,
12 because I delivered the poor who cried for help,
    and the fatherless who had none to help him.
13 The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me,
    and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
    my justice was like a robe and a turban.
15 I was eyes to the blind
    and feet to the lame.
16 I was a father to the needy,
    and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.
17 I broke the fangs of the unrighteous
    and made him drop his prey from his teeth.
18 Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest,
    and I shall multiply my days as the sand,
19 my roots spread out to the waters,
    with the dew all night on my branches,
20 my glory fresh with me,
    and my bow ever new in my hand.’

21 “Men listened to me and waited
    and kept silence for my counsel.
22 After I spoke they did not speak again,
    and my word dropped upon them.
23 They waited for me as for the rain,
    and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain.
24 I smiled on them when they had no confidence,
    and the light of my face they did not cast down.
25 I chose their way and sat as chief,
    and I lived like a king among his troops,
    like one who comforts mourners.Job 29:1-25 ESV

Chapters 28 and 29 provide an interesting contrast. Both are the words of Job, but they reflect two extremely different views or outlooks. In chapter 28, Job asks and answers the question, “Do people know where to find wisdom?”

According to Job, wisdom is found with God.

“God alone understands the way to wisdom;
    he knows where it can be found…
…he saw wisdom and evaluated it.
    He set it in place and examined it thoroughly.
And this is what he says to all humanity:
‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;
    to forsake evil is real understanding.’” – Job 28:23 27-28 NLT

In chapter 28, Job asserts that only God knows where wisdom can be found, because He is its source. The problem that Job’s friends faced was a lack of wisdom, understanding, and a knowledge of the ways of God. None of them truly understood what was going on, including Job. They could only guess as to what was the cause of his distress. Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz blamed it on some hidden sin in his life. Job blamed it on God’s abandonment of him. But they each lacked wisdom. Job seemed to know that, which is what is reflected in his speech in chapter 28. He seemed to understand that the fear of God is where he would find the answer to all his questions.

But then there’s chapter 29. In this speech Job suddenly reflects a perspective that is common to all men. He took his eyes off of God and focused on himself. Depending on the translation you are reading, there are upwards of 40 uses of the personal pronouns “I,” “me,” or “my” in the speech. Job uses the word “I” 20 times, the word “me” 12 times, and the word “my” 16 times.

You might put it this way: Job suffers from a serious “I” problem. He can’t keep his eyes off of himself and the problems that plague his current situation. This leads to another dangerous disability. Job begins to exhibit the tell-tale symptoms of the-good-old-days syndrom. Weighed down by the burdens of his present life, he chooses to find solace in the past. He begins to dwell on how things used to be, when his life was good.

Without realizing it, Job begins to brag about all his accomplishments. He envisions himself as a kind of super saint who rescued all the helpless, always fought for the underdog, and was revered and respected by his community.

The young stepped aside when they saw me,
    and even the aged rose in respect at my coming.
The princes stood in silence
    and put their hands over their mouths.
The highest officials of the city stood quietly,
    holding their tongues in respect. – Job 29:8-10 NLT

While there is probably a semblance of truth in Job’s words, his memory has painted an idealized vision of his past. Of course, compared to his current situation, everything in the rear view mirror looks bigger and better, and he longs to return to those halcyon days.

Now, I don’t particularly blame Job, but in all his myopic obsession with his idealized past, he seems to lose his fear of the Lord. Like his friends, he starts to draw some unwise conclusions. His speech wrongly infers that God is no longer watching over him. He seems to believe that God is no longer his friend and has somehow abandoned him. Yet, these conclusions are all based on his circumstances. He still maintains his innocence, but he blames his condition on God.

Job wanted his honor back. After being constantly berated by his three friends, Job longed to be respected again. He wanted to remind everyone about all the good he used to do. He missed the respect he used to garner for all his good deeds and acts of kindness.

“All who heard me praised me.
    All who saw me spoke well of me.
For I assisted the poor in their need
    and the orphans who required help.
I helped those without hope, and they blessed me.
    And I caused the widows’ hearts to sing for joy.” – Job 29:11-13 NLT

There’s no doubt that Job had lost a lot, and I don’t blame him for wanting to see his circumstances reversed. But when he turned his attention to himself, he took his eyes off of God. Reminiscing was not going to change anything and it was not going to provide him with any answers to his questions or comfort for his pain. That would only come when he turned his attention to God. It’s as if Job needed to go back and read his words recorded in chapter 28. In his heart, Job knew that God had all the answers he was looking for. He alone could provide the comfort Job was seeking.

Yet, whenever we become myopic and focus on ourselves, we lose sight of God. It is at those moments that we must turn to Him, fear Him, and seek Him. Job could have used a dose of Solomon’s insight.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones. – Proverbs 3:5-8 NLT

In chapter 29, Job leaves God completely out of the picture. He makes it all about himself, reminiscing about all his accomplishments, attributes, and well-deserved accolades. It’s almost as if Job is giving testimony in a trial and acting as his own character witness. No one else seems to be stepping up in his defense, so Job decides to do it himself.

But Job would have been better off listening to the words of God that he quoted in the previous chapter.

“…this is what he says to all humanity:
‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;
    to forsake evil is real understanding.’” – Job 28:28 NLT

Job needed to shut up and look up. He needed to end his futile phase of belly button gazing and turn His eyes to the Lord. It’s too bad that Job didn’t have a friend like David, a fellow sufferer who could have given him just the right time-tested advice.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
    He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
    Pour out your heart to him,
    for God is our refuge. – Psalm 62:5-8 NLT

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.

The Danger of Making God In Your Own Image

17 “How often is it that the lamp of the wicked is put out?
    That their calamity comes upon them?
    That God distributes pains in his anger?
18 That they are like straw before the wind,
    and like chaff that the storm carries away?
19 You say, ‘God stores up their iniquity for their children.’
    Let him pay it out to them, that they may know it.
20 Let their own eyes see their destruction,
    and let them drink of the wrath of the Almighty.
21 For what do they care for their houses after them,
    when the number of their months is cut off?
22 Will any teach God knowledge,
    seeing that he judges those who are on high?
23 One dies in his full vigor,
    being wholly at ease and secure,
24 his pails full of milk
    and the marrow of his bones moist.
25 Another dies in bitterness of soul,
    never having tasted of prosperity.
26 They lie down alike in the dust,
    and the worms cover them.

27 “Behold, I know your thoughts
    and your schemes to wrong me.
28 For you say, ‘Where is the house of the prince?
    Where is the tent in which the wicked lived?’
29 Have you not asked those who travel the roads,
    and do you not accept their testimony
30 that the evil man is spared in the day of calamity,
    that he is rescued in the day of wrath?
31 Who declares his way to his face,
    and who repays him for what he has done?
32 When he is carried to the grave,
    watch is kept over his tomb.
33 The clods of the valley are sweet to him;
    all mankind follows after him,
    and those who go before him are innumerable.
34 How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?
    There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.” – Job 21:17-34 ESV

Job continues to confront the overly simplistic and theologically stilted reasonings of his three friends. He argues that their assessment of his situation was based on faulty conclusions that fail to line up with reality. If God is punishing Job for his wickedness, why doesn’t that kind of judgment seem to happen more often? Why don’t more wicked people endure the same kind of debilitating losses that Job did? His argument is that the facts don’t support their conclusion.

“…the light of the wicked never seems to be extinguished.
    Do they ever have trouble?
    Does God distribute sorrows to them in anger?
Are they driven before the wind like straw?
    Are they carried away by the storm like chaff?
    Not at all! – Job 21:17-18 NLT

Job could provide case study after case study to disprove his friends’ faulty thesis. The entire basis of their prosecution of him was based on a house of cards. It failed to stand up under cross-examination because it simply wasn’t true.

And, perceiving the counter-argument his friends will submit, Job immediately debunks the idea that God sometimes allows the wicked to prosper but pours out his judgment on their heirs.

“‘Well,’ you say, ‘at least God will punish their children!’
    But I say he should punish the ones who sin,
    so that they understand his judgment.
Let them see their destruction with their own eyes.
    Let them drink deeply of the anger of the Almighty.
For they will not care what happens to their family
    after they are dead. – Job 21:19-21 NLT

Job knew his friends well and could easily guess the strategy they would use in their counterargument. They couldn’t refute the evidence that Job raised, so they would be forced to make slight alterations to their position, in a stubborn attempt to save face and to keep from admitting they were wrong.

One of the concepts Job keeps returning to is the sovereignty of God. He believes that God is in control of all things and nothing escapes His divine will or authority. For Job, the day-to-day events that make up human life are the purview of God Almighty. He alone can determine the fate of humanity and manage the occurrence and outcome of every event. From our limited perspective, it all appears so haphazard and random.

One person dies in prosperity,
    completely comfortable and secure,
the picture of good health,
    vigorous and fit.
Another person dies in bitter poverty,
    never having tasted the good life.
But both are buried in the same dust,
    both eaten by the same maggots. – Job 21:23-26 NLT

Yet, Job would argue that God is behind it all, and we have no right to judge Him or to accuse Him of the mismanagement of our affairs. Without realizing it, Job was expressing the opinion of God as recorded by the prophet Isaiah.

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’” – Isaiah 45:9 NLT

“Do you question what I do for my children?
    Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
I am the one who made the earth
    and created people to live on it.
With my hands I stretched out the heavens.
    All the stars are at my command. – Job 21:11-12 NLT

The apostle Paul borrowed from the writings of Isaiah to drive home the concept of God’s sovereignty to the believers living in Rome.

Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. – Romans 9:20-22 NLT

As finite human beings, it is impossible for us to fully grasp the ways of God. Because we can’t see the bigger picture, we view everything from our myopic perspective and end up drawing faulty conclusions that fail to take into account the power and providence of God. Job’s friends were making false assumptions based on a flawed understanding of God’s sovereignty. Without knowing it, they had diminished God’s glory by placing Him in a simplistic box of their own making. In their arrogance and eagerness to explain the inexplicable, they had recreated the Creator in their own image. In their effort to explain Job’s circumstances, they had unwittingly extinguished God’s glory.

The following quote from J.C. Ryle, the great 19th-century author and pastor, provides a timely warning against remaking God in our own image.

“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who as a heaven for every body, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.” – Rev. J.C. Ryle. “For Those Who Are Not Christ’s”

Job somehow knew that his friends were misinterpreting the facts and drawing inaccurate conclusions because they misunderstood the ways of God. He wasn’t claiming to have all the answers or boasting about his superior understanding of God. He just knew better than to question how God works. He might not like how things turn out in this life but he was willing to accept the fact that God was in control. And from what he could tell, things weren’t always black and white or cut and dried.

“Evil people are spared in times of calamity
    and are allowed to escape disaster.
No one criticizes them openly
    or pays them back for what they have done.” – Job 21:30-31 NLT

So, what right did his friends have to bombard him with their “empty clichés” (Job 21:34 NLT) and pious-sounding platitudes about God’s judgment? They had no idea what they were talking about. Job had witnessed the funerals of countless individuals whose lives were marked by wickedness, but their memorials were still well-attended and filled with statements of praise and condolences. So, he was not willing to accept his friends’ over-simplistic explanation of his suffering because it oversimplified the glory and goodness of God.

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.

The Hope of Resurrection

1 “Man who is born of a woman
    is few of days and full of trouble.
He comes out like a flower and withers;
    he flees like a shadow and continues not.
And do you open your eyes on such a one
    and bring me into judgment with you?
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
    There is not one.
Since his days are determined,
    and the number of his months is with you,
    and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,
look away from him and leave him alone,
    that he may enjoy, like a hired hand, his day.

“For there is hope for a tree,
    if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
    and that its shoots will not cease.
Though its root grow old in the earth,
    and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
    and put out branches like a young plant.
10 But a man dies and is laid low;
    man breathes his last, and where is he?
11 As waters fail from a lake
    and a river wastes away and dries up,
12 so a man lies down and rises not again;
    till the heavens are no more he will not awake
    or be roused out of his sleep.
13 Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
    that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
    that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
    All the days of my service I would wait,
    till my renewal should come.
15 You would call, and I would answer you;
    you would long for the work of your hands.
16 For then you would number my steps;
    you would not keep watch over my sin;
17 my transgression would be sealed up in a bag,
    and you would cover over my iniquity.

18 “But the mountain falls and crumbles away,
    and the rock is removed from its place;
19 the waters wear away the stones;
    the torrents wash away the soil of the earth;
    so you destroy the hope of man.
20 You prevail forever against him, and he passes;
    you change his countenance, and send him away.
21 His sons come to honor, and he does not know it;
    they are brought low, and he perceives it not.
22 He feels only the pain of his own body,
    and he mourns only for himself.” – Job 14:1-22 ESV

Job has reached the far-from-optimistic conclusion that life is short and then you die. Through the pain-clouded lens of his own life, he has determined that the time span from birth to death is a relatively short one and the period in between is filled with troubles of all kinds. But his dour assessment does not provide an accurate reflection of his own life. Up until recently, he had enjoyed a trouble-free existence, complete with wealth, good health, and a vibrant family life. He had been a respected member of the community and was considered “the greatest of all the people of the east” (Job 1:3 ESV). But then tragedy struck. In a series of bizarre disasters, Job endured the loss of his fortune, the deaths of his ten children, and the failure of his health. And the sheer emotional weight of these unexpected and unexplained losses led Job to reach his inaccurate but very heartfelt conclusion.

Because of all that had happened in his life, Job was having a difficult time remembering the “good old days.” His memory was clouded by his pain. His ability to recall the many years of blessing had been greatly diminished by the severity of his most recent losses. He was living in the moment and evaluating the success of his entire life through tear-stained eyes and a broken heart. We may judge his view as myopic and self-centered but his words were coming from a place of pain. That is what led him to be so brutally blunt with God.

You have decided the length of our lives.
    You know how many months we will live,
    and we are not given a minute longer.
So leave us alone and let us rest!
    We are like hired hands, so let us finish our work in peace. – Job 14:5-6 NLT

His unabashed honesty with God makes us uncomfortable. We can’t imagine getting away with that kind of in-your-face approach to God. Yet, there have probably been times when we have thought what Job dared to say. On those occasions, we felt the desire to shake our fists in the face of God and declare our dissatisfaction with His handling of our lives. But lacking the boldness of Job, we just kept our thoughts to ourselves and weathered the storm.

But Job wasn’t willing to back down or shut up. He felt like he had been backed into a corner and was being falsely attacked by his friends. His integrity was under assault. Not only had he lost everything near and dear to him, but he was being systematically robbed of his reputation. Still reeling from his most recent losses, Job was having to sit back and listen as his name was dragged through the mud by his supposed friends. And it was all too much for him to bear. That’s what drove him to take his case to God. That’s what emboldened him to say things that make us gasp in shock.

“I wish you would hide me in the grave
    and forget me there until your anger has passed.
    But mark your calendar to think of me again! – Job 14:13 NLT

Job was asking God to kill him. He would rather die than continue to endure the sorrow and suffering that marked his earthly existence. He saw no light at the end of the tunnel. There was no silver lining to the dark cloud that had settled over his life. He had lost all hope and was desperately pleading with God to intervene; to do something, anything to relieve his pain. Even death would be preferable to more despair.

In his monologue, Job reveals a rather embryonic and as-yet-incomplete understanding of the afterlife. He seems to believe in a life after death but is not quite sure what it entails. His mention of Sheol is a reference to the grave. He knows his life will end in death but is not certain of what will happen next. He hints at a belief in some kind of resurrection or release from Sheol or the grave.

“Can the dead live again?
    If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle,
    and I would eagerly await the release of death.” – Job 14:14 NLT

If he could be certain of life after death, he would have reason to hope. But for Job, death was like a door that opened into an unknown realm. He didn’t know what was beyond the threshold of death, so all he could do was focus his attention on this life. And from his vantage point, the future was far from bright.

Job wanted to believe in a resurrection from the dead. The concept was comforting and encouraging.

“You would call and I would answer,
    and you would yearn for me, your handiwork.
For then you would guard my steps,
    instead of watching for my sins.
My sins would be sealed in a pouch,
    and you would cover my guilt.” – Job 14:15-17 NLT

He envisioned God calling him from the grave and restoring him to life. He imagined his past sins being forgiven and forgotten by God as he began his new resurrected life in the presence of God. But then his pessimism kicks back in and he reverts to his old tried-and-true, dark-and-gloomy view of life.

“But instead, as mountains fall and crumble
    and as rocks fall from a cliff,
as water wears away the stones
    and floods wash away the soil,
    so you destroy people’s hope. – Job 14:18-19 NLT

Job couldn’t bring himself to see past the present. His world was relegated to the here and now, which kept him from believing in any kind of hereafter. With his myopic outlook on life, he couldn’t imagine a better tomorrow or the possibility of a blessed eternal state.

This poor man had reached rock bottom. He was depressed, distressed, disappointed, and totally devoid of all hope. His final statement in this morbid monologue reflects the depth of his despair.

“You always overpower them, and they pass from the scene.
    You disfigure them in death and send them away.
They never know if their children grow up in honor
    or sink to insignificance.
They suffer painfully;
    their life is full of trouble.” – Job 14:20-22 NLT

As far as Job could tell, death was a dead end. He had no assurance of a future resurrection, so he assumed the worst. For Job, death was a black hole from which he would lose all touch with this world. From his gloomy perspective, Job assumes that the dead can’t look back and see what happens to their loved ones. From their vantage point in Sheol, the dead don’t have access to this world. They can’t watch their grandchildren grow up. They don’t have the hope of looking back and seeing their loved ones carry on after their deaths. This sullen outlook about the future led Job to view his current circumstances with even greater despair.

Job saw the grave as his only escape from the pain of this life but, at the same time, it filled him with fear because he didn’t know what lay beyond death’s door. Job didn’t know what the apostle Paul knew. He wasn’t privy to the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ. He was living on the other side of the cross. But as New Testament believers, we can find hope, assurance, and peace in the words that Paul penned.

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 NLT

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.

The Unparalleled Patience of God

1 “Behold, my eye has seen all this,
    my ear has heard and understood it.
What you know, I also know;
    I am not inferior to you.
But I would speak to the Almighty,
    and I desire to argue my case with God.
As for you, you whitewash with lies;
    worthless physicians are you all.
Oh that you would keep silent,
    and it would be your wisdom!
Hear now my argument
    and listen to the pleadings of my lips.
Will you speak falsely for God
    and speak deceitfully for him?
Will you show partiality toward him?
    Will you plead the case for God?
Will it be well with you when he searches you out?
    Or can you deceive him, as one deceives a man?
10 He will surely rebuke you
    if in secret you show partiality.
11 Will not his majesty terrify you,
    and the dread of him fall upon you?
12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
    your defenses are defenses of clay.

13 “Let me have silence, and I will speak,
    and let come on me what may.
14 Why should I take my flesh in my teeth
    and put my life in my hand?
15 Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
    yet I will argue my ways to his face.
16 This will be my salvation,
    that the godless shall not come before him.
17 Keep listening to my words,
    and let my declaration be in your ears.
18 Behold, I have prepared my case;
    I know that I shall be in the right.
19 Who is there who will contend with me?
    For then I would be silent and die.
20 Only grant me two things,
    then I will not hide myself from your face:
21 withdraw your hand far from me,
    and let not dread of you terrify me.
22 Then call, and I will answer;
    or let me speak, and you reply to me.
23 How many are my iniquities and my sins?
    Make me know my transgression and my sin.
24 Why do you hide your face
    and count me as your enemy?
25 Will you frighten a driven leaf
    and pursue dry chaff?
26 For you write bitter things against me
    and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth.
27 You put my feet in the stocks
    and watch all my paths;
    you set a limit for the soles of my feet.
28 Man wastes away like a rotten thing,
    like a garment that is moth-eaten.– Job 13:1-28 ESV

Job is just getting started. Warming to his topic, Job lets Zophar know that his impassioned speech provided no new information. His friend had produced no new details or insights into his circumstances that would persuade Job to change his mind. And he was more insistent than ever about demanding answers from God.

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 is 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 only hope and help – God Himself. His friends, with their poor bedside manners, 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, “O God, grant me these two things, and then I will be able to face you. Remove your heavy hand from me, and don’t terrify me with your awesome presence.” (Job 13:20-21 NLT).

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 speech. He just tells God exactly what’s 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 the honest and heartfelt expression of our frustration. In fact, I believe God would rather have us be honest with Him than watch us cover up our fears and frustrations with religious-sounding platitudes that we don’t believe or understand.

In the middle of a trial in which 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, and He wants us to share with Him what is on our hearts. He can handle our honesty, but He can’t stand our poor attempts at false faithfulness. If we can give God a heartfelt, “I trust You!,” so be it. But we often 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, frustration, doubt, and disenchantment. But the writer of Psalms 119 knew he could turn to God and openly express his feelings.

I have chosen to be faithful;
    I have determined to live by your regulations.
I cling to your laws.
    Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!
I will pursue your commands,
    for you expand my understanding.

Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
    I will keep them to the end.Psalms 119:30-33 NLT

Job’s world had been rocked. His entire belief system was in shambles because everything he thought he knew about God had been turned upside down. And his friends were proving to be unreliable sources of comfort or wise counsel. They were painting blurry and indecipherable images of God that only intensified Job’s confusion and pain. He had become so disenchanted with their input that he pleaded with them to cease and desist.

“Be silent now and leave me alone.
    Let me speak, and I will face the consequences.
Why should I put myself in mortal danger
    and take my life in my own hands?
God might kill me, but I have no other hope.
    I am going to argue my case with him.” – Job 14:13-15 NLT

To put it bluntly, Job wanted his friends to shut up and God to show up. He was more than willing to take his chances with God, and he would even risk having God expose whatever sin he had committed.

Tell me, what have I done wrong?
    Show me my rebellion and my sin. – Job 13:23 NLT

In essence, Job is demanding a court date with God. He wanted the opportunity to defend himself before the only one who had the power to convict or acquit him. From Job’s point of view, God had no grounds for punishing him. He believed himself to be innocent and unworthy of all the judgments he had received. Something was wrong. A mistake had been made. And he couldn’t help but ask, “Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me as your enemy?” (Job 13:24 NLT).

As far as Job could tell, the only indictments God could level against him were from the past. He even seems to accuse God of cherry-picking from his past and dredging up old transgressions that had long ago been forgiven and forgotten.

“You write bitter accusations against me
    and bring up all the sins of my youth. – Job 13:26 NLT

In a way, Job was complaining that he had been declared guilty by God and was being forced to prove his own innocence. But he was frustrated about the lack of access to the courtroom of God. There had been plenty of witnesses called by the prosecution, but Job was still waiting for his opportunity to stand before the Judge of the universe and defend himself.

Job was calling on God, but his words were rife with bold accusations and unsubstantiated assumptions. He had come to the right source, but he was doing so in a less-than-righteous manner. But as time will reveal, God was more than willing to let Job vent his frustration and level his charges. The Almighty was not intimidated by Job’s harsh words or easily offended by his brutal honesty. God understood that Job’s caustic comments were flowing from the deep well of his grief and confusion. And, for the time being, God was willing to allow Job the freedom to speak bluntly and rather disrespectfully. Job’s words didn’t shock God and the accusatory manner of this down-and-out servant didn’t bring down the wrath of God. God knew Job needed to vent and He was willing to wait Job had said all he had to say.

In time, Job would learn the invaluable lesson found in the following psalm of David.

The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
    nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
    he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
    is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. – Psalm 103:8-11 NLT

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.

Consider the Source

1 Then Job answered and said:

“No doubt you are the people,
    and wisdom will die with you.
But I have understanding as well as you;
    I am not inferior to you.
    Who does not know such things as these?
I am a laughingstock to my friends;
    I, who called to God and he answered me,
    a just and blameless man, am a laughingstock.
In the thought of one who is at ease there is contempt for misfortune;
    it is ready for those whose feet slip.
The tents of robbers are at peace,
    and those who provoke God are secure,
    who bring their god in their hand.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
    the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
    and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every living thing
    and the breath of all mankind.
11 Does not the ear test words
    as the palate tastes food?
12 Wisdom is with the aged,
    and understanding in length of days.

13 “With God are wisdom and might;
    he has counsel and understanding.
14 If he tears down, none can rebuild;
    if he shuts a man in, none can open.
15 If he withholds the waters, they dry up;
    if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land.
16 With him are strength and sound wisdom;
    the deceived and the deceiver are his.
17 He leads counselors away stripped,
    and judges he makes fools.
18 He looses the bonds of kings
    and binds a waistcloth on their hips.
19 He leads priests away stripped
    and overthrows the mighty.
20 He deprives of speech those who are trusted
    and takes away the discernment of the elders.
21 He pours contempt on princes
    and loosens the belt of the strong.
22 He uncovers the deeps out of darkness
    and brings deep darkness to light.
23 He makes nations great, and he destroys them;
    he enlarges nations, and leads them away.
24 He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth
    and makes them wander in a trackless waste.
25 They grope in the dark without light,
    and he makes them stagger like a drunken man.” – Job 12:1-25 ESV

Job has just had to listen to a third “friend” share his unsympathetic assessment of his circumstances, and he can’t keep from responding. He probably knew his friends meant well, but he was in no mood to listen to more of these arm-chair quarterbacks as they pontificated about his plight.

For Job, the idea that God was somehow responsible for his condition was a no-brainer. Whether or not God was behind his difficult circumstances was not the issue. He firmly believed that God was in control and so, ultimately, God was responsible. God could have prevented the disasters and the disease that had impacted Job’s life, but He had chosen not to. 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’s belief in the sovereignty of God was unshakeable.

“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

So, Job knew that God alone could provide the answer as to why he was suffering, and he was fully convinced that it had nothing to do with his sin. Yet Job’s friends had reached a different conclusion. They kept blaming his condition on his sinfulness but couldn’t tell him exactly what he had done to deserve such harsh judgment from God.

Job was convinced of his own innocence and he was certain that God would have to agree. Which means there had to be another reason for his suffering. All he wanted was the chance to ask God face-to-face. So, he pushed back hard on Zophar’s counsel and sarcastically questioned his friends’ over-confident assertions regarding his guilt.

“You people really know everything, don’t you?
    And when you die, wisdom will die with you!
Well, I know a few things myself—
    and you’re no better than I am.
    Who doesn’t know these things you’ve been saying? – Job 12:2-3 NLT

He wasn’t going to argue with their thoughts concerning God’s omnipotence and omniscience. It was their cocky assurance regarding his guilt that drove him crazy. They were actually mocking him for attempting to demand an explanation from God. From their perspective, God owed him nothing and he was wasting his breath and his time pleading for God to come to his defense. That day was never going to come. But that didn’t keep Job from declaring his frustration with God’s apparent disinterest in his plight. He saw the wicked receiving better treatment from God, while he was kept in the dark and denied a response to his pleas for acquittal and restoration.

“…robbers are left in peace,
    and those who provoke God live in safety—
    though God keeps them in his power. – Job 12:6 NLT

All he was asking for was a fair shake. Even the animals, birds, and fish enjoyed were the unwitting and undeserving beneficiaries of God’s grace, so why was he denied the right to a response and the hope of a fair trial?

“…the life of every living thing is in his hand,
    and the breath of every human being.” – Job 12:10 NLT

As far as he could tell, the rest of nature seemed to get a fair shake from the Creator, while he was left to suffer in insufferable silence. Job was hoping for vindication, but was willing to settle for a little justification from God for his plight. Job didn’t think his friends were stupid, but he also didn’t think they had a monopoly on wisdom. That was the purview of God.

Wisdom belongs to the aged,
    and understanding to the old.

“But true wisdom and power are found in God;
    counsel and understanding are his.” – Job 12:12-13 NLT

His friends could continue to regale him with all their earthly wit and wisdom but he wouldn’t be satisfied until he heard directly from the source of all wisdom: God Almighty. Compared to God, every other counselor is nothing but a hapless fool spouting man-made platitudes and helpless homilies.

“Yes, strength and wisdom are his;
    deceivers and deceived are both in his power.
He leads counselors away, stripped of good judgment;
    wise judges become fools.” – Job 12:16-17 NLT

From Job’s perspective, listening to his three friends was a royal waste of time because they were clueless as to what was really going on. They couldn’t provide any real insight into his circumstances because their point of view was hampered by their earth-bound perspectives. And Job warned them that God would ultimately expose them as frauds rather than faithful friends.

“He silences the trusted adviser
    and removes the insight of the elders.” – Job 12:20 NLT

When exposed to the penetrating light of God’s wisdom, their wonderful words of advice would whither like weeds in the hot midday sun. Job truly believed that he would one day be vindicated by God and his friends would learn just how wrong they had been.

He strips kings of understanding
    and leaves them wandering in a pathless wasteland.
They grope in the darkness without a light.
    He makes them stagger like drunkards.” – Job 12:24-25 NLT

But Job maintained his confidence in the goodness of God, and expressed his firm belief that God’s light would eventually shine on his life again and make sense of all the madness.

“He uncovers mysteries hidden in darkness;
    he brings light to the deepest gloom. – Job 12:22 NLT

But in the meantime, Job maintained his right to state his case before the Judge of the universe. All he was asking for was a fair trial. He was willing to accept whatever sentence God might mete out, but what he couldn’t take was God’s continued silence.

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.

Light in the Darkness

1 “I loathe my life;
I will give free utterance to my complaint;
    I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
I will say to God, Do not condemn me;
    let me know why you contend against me.
Does it seem good to you to oppress,
    to despise the work of your hands
    and favor the designs of the wicked?
Have you eyes of flesh?
    Do you see as man sees?
Are your days as the days of man,
    or your years as a man’s years,
that you seek out my iniquity
    and search for my sin,
although you know that I am not guilty,
    and there is none to deliver out of your hand?
Your hands fashioned and made me,
    and now you have destroyed me altogether.
Remember that you have made me like clay;
    and will you return me to the dust?
10 Did you not pour me out like milk
    and curdle me like cheese?
11 You clothed me with skin and flesh,
    and knit me together with bones and sinews.
12 You have granted me life and steadfast love,
    and your care has preserved my spirit.
13 Yet these things you hid in your heart;
    I know that this was your purpose.
14 If I sin, you watch me
    and do not acquit me of my iniquity.
15 If I am guilty, woe to me!
    If I am in the right, I cannot lift up my head,
for I am filled with disgrace
    and look on my affliction.
16 And were my head lifted up, you would hunt me like a lion
    and again work wonders against me.
17 You renew your witnesses against me
    and increase your vexation toward me;
    you bring fresh troops against me.

18 “Why did you bring me out from the womb?
    Would that I had died before any eye had seen me
19 and were as though I had not been,
    carried from the womb to the grave.
20 Are not my days few?
    Then cease, and leave me alone, that I may find a little cheer
21 before I go—and I shall not return—
    to the land of darkness and deep shadow,
22 the land of gloom like thick darkness,
    like deep shadow without any order,
    where light is as thick darkness.” – Job 10:1-22 ESV

Job continues his diatribe against God, refusing to hold back his resentment for the way the Almighty has treated him. From his perspective, he has nothing to fear from being brutally honest with God. His life can’t get much worse and if God has determined him to be guilty, there is little he can do about it. So, Job pulls out all the stops and levels a barrage of complaints against the One whom he has determined to be responsible for his unfortunate and undeserved circumstances.

Embittered by his unbearable suffering and loss, Job lashes out at God and demands that He explain Himself.

“Don’t simply condemn me—
    tell me the charge you are bringing against me.
What do you gain by oppressing me?” – Job 10:2-3 NLT

Job was convinced that God was responsible for his circumstances but wanted to know what he had done to deserve such treatment. He felt that God owed him an explanation for all that had transpired and was not going to shut up until God spoke up.

In his pain and confusion, Job couldn’t resist the temptation to accuse God of injustice. As a child of God, he felt that he was being treated unfairly. After all, he could look around and see the ungodly getting away with all kinds of wickedness as if God had turned a blind eye. Yet, he seemed to believe that his status as a son of God was supposed to provide him with some kind of immunity from suffering and pain.

The recent events in Job’s life had been totally unexpected. He had no way of understanding the severity of the losses he had endured. None of it fit into the paradigm he held of God and his understanding of human existence. As a follower of Yahweh, Job believed himself to be on the winning side. He understood himself to be the work of God’s own hands and destined for blessings in this life – as long as he remained faithful. His theology led him to believe that God owed him the good life for having led a godly life, and his entire focus was fixated on the time between the womb and the tomb.

Job knew that he had a birth date and fully expected that he had a rapidly approaching death date. But he had a difficult time conceiving of anything beyond that point. In all his rantings and ravings, Job displays no concept of an afterlife. His words reveal a belief that everything that happens to a man must take place between the two bookends of birth and death. There is nothing before or after.

I have only a few days left, so leave me alone,
    that I may have a moment of comfort
before I leave—never to return—
    for the land of darkness and utter gloom.
It is a land as dark as midnight,
    a land of gloom and confusion,
    where even the light is dark as midnight.’”  – Job 10:20-22 NLT

And that gloomy perspective led Job to regret that he was ever born. His ontology was based on a faulty understanding of how the world works. Because he lived in a temporal state, he couldn’t fathom a concept like eternity. He saw nothing existing beyond the grave, simply describing it as a land of darkness, gloom, and doom. So, if the rest of his earthly life was going to be filled with nothing but trouble, he decided that death would be better than living. Non-existence would be preferable to the existential crisis in which he found himself.

Job couldn’t help but state the obvious: God was responsible for his very existence, and it looked like God was intent on bringing his life to an untimely and ignominious end.

“You formed me with your hands; you made me,
    yet now you completely destroy me.
Remember that you made me from dust—
    will you turn me back to dust so soon? – Job 10:8-9 NLT

Once again, Job displays a dramatically different understanding of God than that of David. Both men understood the reality of suffering and wrestled with God’s involvement in it. But David viewed his birth as a blessing and not a curse.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed. – Psalm 139:13-16 NLT

David saw the hand of God in every aspect of his life, including those less-than-pleasant moments when God’s love seemed distant and difficult to comprehend. David was surrounded by wicked people who were out to take his life. He was suffering abuse and undergoing difficult circumstances, but he was able to say, “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!” (Psalm 139:18-19 NLT).

What a contrast to the woe-is-me mentality of Job. This man, when faced with difficult life circumstances, was willing to admit that God had given him life but was quick to accuse God of having it out for him.

“You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love.
    My life was preserved by your care.

“Yet your real motive—
    your true intent—
was to watch me, and if I sinned,
    you would not forgive my guilt.” – Job 10:12-14 NLT

Sadly, Job’s view of God was anything but optimistic. Unlike David, he didn’t perceive God as having precious thoughts about him. Rather than counting God’s many blessings, Job was busy taking inventory of all his losses – and he was far from happy with the results.

“…I am filled with shame and misery.
And if I hold my head high, you hunt me like a lion
    and display your awesome power against me.
Again and again you witness against me.
    You pour out your growing anger on me
    and bring fresh armies against me. – Job 10:15-17 NLT

Job had come to fear rather than revere God. He viewed God as his enemy, not his advocate. When Job looked at the future, he saw nothing but gloom. He felt completely abandoned by God and destined to a dark and dismal fate. But when faced with the inevitable difficulties of life, David reached a far different conclusion

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
    but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you. – Psalm 139:7-12 NLT

As the apostle John wrote, “God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all” (1 John 1:5 NLT). He is not the author of light, but the eliminator of it. His light shines in the darkness. David understood that darkness was an inevitable part of living in a fallen world. He was well aware of the fact that life would have its highs and lows. But he was fully confident in God’s presence and providential care. His God was with him in the good times and the bad times. David refused to allow his circumstances to determine his concept of God. But Job still had much to learn about life and the love of God.

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.

The Stark Contrast of Two Suffering Saints

25 “My days are swifter than a runner;
    they flee away; they see no good.
26 They go by like skiffs of reed,
    like an eagle swooping on the prey.
27 If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint,
    I will put off my sad face, and be of good cheer,’
28 I become afraid of all my suffering,
    for I know you will not hold me innocent.
29 I shall be condemned;
    why then do I labor in vain?
30 If I wash myself with snow
    and cleanse my hands with lye,
31 yet you will plunge me into a pit,
    and my own clothes will abhor me.
32 For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him,
    that we should come to trial together.
33 There is no arbiter between us,
    who might lay his hand on us both.
34 Let him take his rod away from me,
    and let not dread of him terrify me.
35 Then I would speak without fear of him,
    for I am not so in myself.– Job 9:25-35 ESV

Job has reached the end of his rope. His persistent pain and sorrow have left him in a hopeless state with no sign of relief in sight. He can’t imagine a brighter tomorrow or any hope of a reversal of his misfortunes. The days come and go, “swifter than a runner” (Job 9:25 ESV), and leave Job in an increasingly more depressed and defeated state. To make matters worse, Job has determined that God is behind it all, and he believes there is nothing he can do about it.

“If I decided to forget my complaints,
    to put away my sad face and be cheerful,
I would still dread all the pain,
    for I know you will not find me innocent, O God.
Whatever happens, I will be found guilty. – Job 9:27-29 NLT

Even if Job could force himself to put on a happy face, he doesn’t believe his lot in life will change. A forced smile won’t change anything unless God is willing to pronounce him innocent, and Job doesn’t think that is going to happen. For whatever reason, Job has convinced himself that God is against him. His unresolved circumstances have forced him to conclude that the Creator of the universe has it in for him, and Job feels ill-equipped to defend himself before such an august and powerful judge. The die has been cast, the verdict has been determined, and there is nothing Job can do to alter the pre-ordained outcome of an omnipotent God. But is he right, or is there a chance that Job has misjudged the Judge of the universe?

Job pessimistically states, “Whatever happens, I will be found guilty. So what’s the use of trying?” (Job 9:29 NLT). Even if he could find someone to mediate his case before God, Job doesn’t believe the outcome will be any different. He can try to clean up his act, improve his disposition, and put on a happy face, but he honestly believes that God will not relent or renounce His guilty verdict.

Job’s sorrowful state and gloomy outlook are not unique to him. There are countless others who have reached similar conclusions when faced with comparable circumstances. It was King David who wrote:

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
    Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
    Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief. – Psalm 22:1-2 NLT

In a similar fashion, Heman the Ezrahite declared his dissatisfaction with God.

O Lord, God of my salvation,
    I cry out to you by day.
    I come to you at night.
Now hear my prayer;
    listen to my cry.
For my life is full of troubles,
    and death draws near.
I am as good as dead,
    like a strong man with no strength left.
They have left me among the dead,
    and I lie like a corpse in a grave.
I am forgotten,
    cut off from your care.
You have thrown me into the lowest pit,
    into the darkest depths.
Your anger weighs me down;
    with wave after wave you have engulfed me. – Psalm 88:1-7 NLT

Heman went on to accuse God of driving away all his friends, placing him in an inescapable trap, and repeatedly rejecting him. He found himself in a place of utter darkness and despair and could not understand why God would not respond to his cries for mercy and help. At no point in Heman’s psalm does he acknowledge the goodness and grace of God. But King David is different.

David’s grief is just as palpable and his despair is unrelenting and virtually unresolvable. Yet, he manages to catch glimpses of the goodness of God amid all the sorrow and pain. He is able to look back on his life and remember the many times that God had poured out His undeserved blessings.

Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
    and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
    You have been my God from the moment I was born. – Psalm 22:9-10 NLT

David understood his birth to be a gift from God. He had been raised by a godly mother who introduced him to Yahweh at an early age and, for that, David was grateful. His pain was real and his sense of despair and desperation was great, but David remained persistent in his belief that God would hear and deliver him.

O Lord, do not stay far away!
    You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
Save me from the sword;
    spare my precious life from these dogs.
Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
    and from the horns of these wild oxen. – Psalm 22:19-21 NLT

David doesn’t declare his innocence or accuse God of injustice. He simply appeals to God’s mercy and grace, and he promises to praise God among the assembly when deliverance inevitably comes.

I will praise you in the great assembly.
    I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you. – Psalm 22:25 NLT

Though David’s suffering was no less intense than that of Job and Heman, his outlook on God was markedly different. His pain was just as real and his despair was just as intense, but he remained hopeful. He maintained His trust in the goodness of God. Even with all that was going on in his life, he was able to speak in optimistic and hopeful terms regarding God.

Praise the Lord, all you who fear him!
    Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
    Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
    He has not turned his back on them,
    but has listened to their cries for help. – Psalm 22:23-24 NLT

David was down but not defeated. He was suffering but was still willing to find solace in the goodness of God. He was able to maintain a hint of optimism in the midst of all the sorrow because he believed that God would ultimately deliver him. He maintained a strong belief in the faithfulness of God, so he would continue to cry out and wait for God’s deliverance. David had full assurance that God hears the cries of His children and responds, and it was that belief in God’s goodness that prompted David to write: “His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done” (Psalm 22:31 NLT).

Job will end up saying something that gives the impression of faith but it is actually a declaration of resignation.

God might kill me, but I have no other hope.
    I am going to argue my case with him. – Job 13:15 NLT

For Job, God was a last resort. He firmly believed that God might strike him dead, but he was willing to take that risk in order to defend his innocence. There is a stark difference between the theology of Job and that of David. One viewed God as his only source of hope and his ultimate executioner. The other viewed God as honorable, worthy of worship, and the ultimate source of his deliverance. David was down but not out. He was in despair but had not lost his faith in God. He cried out to God for help and promised to shout His praises when deliverance came.

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.

When Questioning God Becomes Playing God

13 “God will not turn back his anger;
    beneath him bowed the helpers of Rahab.
14 How then can I answer him,
    choosing my words with him?
15 Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him;
    I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.
16 If I summoned him and he answered me,
    I would not believe that he was listening to my voice.
17 For he crushes me with a tempest
    and multiplies my wounds without cause;
18 he will not let me get my breath,
    but fills me with bitterness.
19 If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty!
    If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?
20 Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me;
    though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.
21 I am blameless; I regard not myself;
    I loathe my life.
22 It is all one; therefore I say,
    ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
23 When disaster brings sudden death,
    he mocks at the calamity of the innocent.
24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked;
    he covers the faces of its judges—
    if it is not he, who then is it?– Job 9:13-24 ESV

Job clings tenaciously to his claim of innocence but knows that he will have a difficult time proving it in the divine court of law. He is faced with the formidable task of having to present his case before the Judge of the universe and, as far as he can see, his prospects of success are small. Taking the advice of Bildad, Job inquired of bygone ages and considered what the fathers searched out (Job 8:8). He took a look at history and came to the conclusion that God doesn’t always side with the righteous. His ways are not always predictable.

Job makes mention of Rahab, likely a reference to Leviathan, a mythic creature (Job 26:12) that the Jews associated with the sea. Rahab is most often used in Scripture as a reference to the sea and God’s power over it. The God who can control the oceans of the earth cannot be defeated by the rhetoric of mortal men. Job mournfully concludes, “…who am I, that I should try to answer God or even reason with him?” (Job 9:14 NLT).

The oceans bend to the will of God. The creatures of the earth must do His bidding. Nothing and no one can stand before Almighty God, so what hope does Job have of successfully stating his case and receiving justice? Even if he is right, he will be powerless before God. His words of self-defense will prove meaningless, leaving him with no other option than to plead for God’s mercy.

From Job’s perspective, God was the cause of all his troubles, and this conclusion led him to see no hope in arguing his case. As far as Job could see, God had made up His mind and He would not be swayed by some mortal’s pathetic pleas of innocence.

“For he attacks me with a storm
    and repeatedly wounds me without cause.
He will not let me catch my breath,
    but fills me instead with bitter sorrows.
If it’s a question of strength, he’s the strong one.
    If it’s a matter of justice, who dares to summon him to court? – Job 9:17-19 NLT

At this point in his life, Job’s conception of God had become marred by his circumstances. He saw God as the divine bully in the sky who was using His superior power to taunt a weaker and undeserving victim. Job’s theology had become warped by the recent events of his life. He was viewing God through eyes clouded by tears and a mind heavy with grief. Nothing made sense. God appeared to be uncaring, even callous. Job had reached the conclusion that the justice of God had less to do with righteousness and rightness than it did with His overwhelming power. Job had divorced God’s justice from His goodness. In his grief, Job had decided that the only difference between God and mortal men was His undiminished sovereignty and unaccountability. God answered to no one.

Because Job understood God to be just and right, it didn’t matter what he said. He could claim his innocence but it would do no good. Job could state his case but God would ultimately win any war of words and the divine verdict would be binding and non-negotiable. This pessimistic and defeatist mentality led Job to conclude, “Innocent or wicked, it is all the same to God. That’s why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked’” (Job 9:22 NLT).

But Job was wrong. His conclusions, though heartfelt and sincere, were inaccurate. His understanding of God was flawed, having been heavily influenced by his circumstances. The Scriptures paint a starkly different image of God.

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. – Psalm 18:30 ESV

He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is! – Deuteronomy 32:4 NLT

“God’s way is perfect.
    All the Lord’s promises prove true.
    He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
For who is God except the Lord?
    Who but our God is a solid rock? – 2 Samuel 22:31-32 NLT

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. – Psalm 84:11 NIV

This last verse is particularly pertinent because it reminds us of God’s previous assessment of Job. The Lord had declared His servant to be “a blameless and upright man” (Job 1:8 ESV). He viewed Job as faithful and a man of integrity. But God had allowed Satan to test Job’s allegiance. The Almighty permitted the enemy to take away all that was near and dear to Job, except his life. Satan had conjectured that Job would turn his back on God if all the blessings of life were removed. And, in a way, it almost seems as if Satan was right.

Job still acknowledges the presence and power of God. He has refrained from following his wife’s advice to curse God and die. But Job does not come across as a man who has a healthy relationship with His Creator. He doesn’t seem to view the ways of God as perfect and favorable. He doesn’t refer to God as his rock, sun, or shield. And while he readily admits that God is just, Job doesn’t describe Him as faithful or fair. In fact, Job’s assessment of God is anything but favorable or optimistic.

“When a plague sweeps through,
    he laughs at the death of the innocent.
The whole earth is in the hands of the wicked,
    and God blinds the eyes of the judges.
    If he’s not the one who does it, who is?” – Job 9:23-24 NLT

What makes this statement so significant is that it comes from the same lips that earlier declared, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10 ESV). Job no longer appears willing to “receive evil” from the hand of God. He has had enough and demands that his innocence be acknowledged and his suffering come to an end. In a way, Job reveals that he knows what is best and is determined to get his way, and the only thing standing in his way is God. Whether he realizes it or not, Job has decided to play god and, in doing so, he has declared war on Yahweh. He has decided that Yahweh is unfair and ultimately, unjust in His dealings with men. Without realizing it, Job has succumbed to the same tactic that Satan used to deceive Eve in the garden. He has bought into the enemy’s tempting offer of autonomy.

“…your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” – Genesis 3:5 NLT

Job’s eyes had been “opened” by the lies of Satan and he believed that he knew what was best for himself. He decided that he was right and God was wrong. Without actually saying it, Job declared that his way would be better than God’s way. His brand of justice would be superior to that of God. His definition of right and wrong was the only one to consider and his preferred outcome was the only one he would accept. But Job had a lot to learn about the justice of God, and he would soon discover that his desperate desire to play god would not improve his circumstances. The solution to his problem was not the removal of all the problems from his life. What he needed most was a healthy understanding of the character of God.

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.

The Folly of a Faulty View of God

1 Then Job answered and said:

“Truly I know that it is so:
    But how can a man be in the right before God?
If one wished to contend with him,
    one could not answer him once in a thousand times.
He is wise in heart and mighty in strength
    —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?—
he who removes mountains, and they know it not,
    when he overturns them in his anger,
who shakes the earth out of its place,
    and its pillars tremble;
who commands the sun, and it does not rise;
    who seals up the stars;
who alone stretched out the heavens
    and trampled the waves of the sea;
who made the Bear and Orion,
    the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;
10 who does great things beyond searching out,
    and marvelous things beyond number.
11 Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not;
    he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
12 Behold, he snatches away; who can turn him back?
    Who will say to him, ‘What are you doing?’” – Job 9:1-12 ESV

Job was convinced of his own innocence but he wasn’t quite sure how to state his case before God Almighty. Bildad had brought up the topic of God’s justice and Job took no issue with his friend’s assessment. His only point of contention was with Bildad’s insistence that he “seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy” (Job 8:5 ESV). That all sounded well and good but how was a mere man to come before the God of the universe and hope to stand a chance of declaring his own innocence? Despite his strong belief in his innocence, Job asked, “…how can a person be declared innocent in God’s sight?” (Job 9:2 NLT).

Eliphaz had boldly proclaimed, “If I were you, I would go to God and present my case to him” (Job 5:8 NLT). But Job insists that Eliphaz’s confident assertion is easier said than done.

“Yes, I know all this is true in principle.
    But how can a person be declared innocent in God’s sight?
If someone wanted to take God to court,
    would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times?
For God is so wise and so mighty.
    Who has ever challenged him successfully? – Job 9:2-4 NLT

Job found it easy to confront and contradict his two friends, but to hope to stand before God and demand a fair trial was something he couldn’t fathom. He was more than confident debating Eliphaz and Bildad; after all, they were only human and were hampered by their unenlightened, earth-bound perspectives. But God is all-wise and all-knowing. As the sovereign God of the universe, He “is wise in heart and mighty in strength” (Job 9:4 ESV). How was Job supposed to come before God and hope to stand any chance of arguing his case with any success? He pessimistically concedes, “Who has ever challenged him successfully?” (Job 9:4 NLT).

In this doleful response to the counsel of his friends, Job reveals the extent of his reverence and awe for God. He displays a strong understanding of God’s sovereignty but it is tinged with a hint of resignation. For Job, God was a distant and disembodied deity who was to be feared. There is no sense of intimacy or personal friendship expressed in Job’s description of God. In his mind, God was the “unmoved mover,” a phrase coined by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. He wrote, “…there must be an immortal, unchanging being, ultimately responsible for all wholeness and orderliness in the sensible world” (Sach, Job. “Aristotle: Metaphysics”. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.).

Job’s concept of God was that of an invisible, all-powerful deity who created the universe and was fully capable of doing with it whatever He wanted to do.

“Without warning, he moves the mountains,
    overturning them in his anger.
He shakes the earth from its place,
    and its foundations tremble.
If he commands it, the sun won’t rise
    and the stars won’t shine. – Job 9:5-7 NLT

Job was awed by God’s power but not comforted by God’s presence in his life. He could not conceive of this great God giving him the time of day or listening to his pleas of innocence. Job couldn’t fathom why the One who hung the stars in the heavens and maintained the order of the entire universe would ever bother to care about someone as insignificant and unimportant as him.

Job’s humility is to be admired but it reveals a woeful understanding of the nature of God. His concept of God, while accurate, is incomplete. He has no idea just how much God loves and cares for him. Like his two friends, Job is blind to what is going on in the unseen realms. He is oblivious to the conversation that God had with Satan, in which the Almighty declared His pleasure with him.

“Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? – Job 1:8 ESV

“Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” – Job 2:3 ESV

Job seems to believe that his all-powerful God has no time for or interest in him. This “unmoved mover” is too busy caring for the universe to take note of some insignificant human living in the land of Uz. Job admits that God “does great things too marvelous to understand” (Job 9:10 ESV), but he concludes that God is too busy to deal with his petty problems or listen to his pleas for assistance.

Job displays an all-too-familiar concept of God that is shared by far too many believers today. This idea of a great God in the sky who has no time or interest in the billions of helpless, hopeless earth-bound creatures scurrying across the planet is alive and well today – even among professing believers. We may pray to this God, but we don’t actually believe He hears or will answer. We give lip service to His grace and goodness but live as if He is too distant or disinterested in what is going on in our lives to do anything about it. He may help others but He probably won’t help us. He keeps the lights of the universe on but He’s too busy to do anything about the darkness enveloping our lives. This pessimistic perception of God is all too prevalent in today’s world and fully embraced by many who would declare themselves to be faithful God followers.

And these very same people would wholeheartedly agree with the gloomy perception of Job.

“…when he comes near, I cannot see him.
    When he moves by, I do not see him go.
If he snatches someone in death, who can stop him?
    Who dares to ask, ‘What are you doing?’ – Job 9:11-12 NLT

But this one-dimensional view of God is unbiblical, inaccurate, and unhelpful. It paints a distorted view of God that is unmerited and diminishes His glory. The Scriptures paint a starkly different image of God.

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
    He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

The righteous person faces many troubles,
    but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. – Psalm 34:17-19 NLT

The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
    he is filled with kindness.
The Lord is close to all who call on him,
    yes, to all who call on him in truth.
He grants the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
The Lord protects all those who love him – Psalm 145:17-20 NLT

God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
    and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam.
    Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! – Psalm 46:1-3 NLT

Job didn’t have access to these truths. He had no Bible to open up and read about the goodness of God, so his entire understanding of God was based on his own experience. He was confined to judging God based on circumstantial evidence. In looking at his life, Job could remember a day when he was blessed by God. He had enjoyed good health, financial success, and the joy of a happy home life. His God was good and so was his life. But then, in a moment’s time, all that changed. He lost everything. The blessings were replaced with curses that were unbearable and inexplicable. He couldn’t understand what was going on but was firm in his belief that he had done nothing to deserve such a fate.

In hopeless resignation and spurred on by the unhelpful counsel of his two friends, Job began to draw unhealthy conclusions about God that would do more harm than good. He could only conceive of God as a righteous and unapproachable judge who had no patience or time to hear the petty complaints of a mere human. Job wanted to defend himself and testify to his own innocence but didn’t believe he would get a fair hearing. His faulty view of God left him in a state of resentment and frustration because he couldn’t imagine the “unmoved mover” being moved by his plight or persuaded by his pleas of innocence. And his growing resignation will result in an ever-increasing sense of despair that, left unchecked, will turn into disdain and doubt.

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.