Job 3: The Architecture of a Suffering Man
November 3, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Job is a righteous man, but he is by no means unrealistic. He has been through an unconscionable degree of suffering. Job does not pretend. He does not put on a brave face and fake it. In this chapter 3, he pours out his feelings, the real trauma of his situation. He “cursed the day of his birth.” He wishes he had never been born. His pain is such that he honestly thinks that it would have been better if he had never existed at all. At least then he would not have had to experience such anguish. What advantage is there in being alive if his life leads to such agony? Why would he wish to see the light of day if it is filled with the bitterness of evil darkness? On and on through this chapter, Job then describes his feelings of bitter despair at his very own life. The chapter is written with poetic genius—for not only is it well crafted, it is filled with raw emotion at the same time.
Job has more questions than answers:
“Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” (3:23).
And by the end of this chapter, the dire nature of his situation is made painfully clear to the reader. “Sighing has become my daily food”; he has lost his appetite and instead all he can consume is more groaning. “What I feared has come upon me”; his very worst nightmare has come true. In short,
“I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil” (3:26).
We are presented here with the anatomy of suffering. Not only is there pain, there is also confusion. And doubt. And ongoing pain about the pain, suffering about the suffering—unable to rest, unable to eat properly, no sense of stillness and quiet. Job is evidently at the end of his rope.
Perhaps someone reading this devotional feels similarly to Job. Is it encouraging to you that a “righteous man,” even someone who has a book of the Bible named after him, could feel similarly? In some Christian circles, we interpret the admonition to “rejoice always” as if there is something wrong if we mourn. It is not so; there is a kind of joy that a Christian has in any situation, but that does not mean that at the same time there cannot also be real pain and anguish. Do not make the suffering worse by adding onto it the illegitimate guilt of a fake piety.
As we go through this book, we are not presented with answers—not straight away, and even at the end, the answer is not what we would expect. But all suffering can find its answer at the cross of Jesus who suffered for us, bled, died—and rose again, and in whom we have the victory.
But we are not there yet, nor is Job. The Book of Job in some ways is best preached as one sermon: for you need to hear the end of the book (and indeed its fulfillment in Christ) to be able to understand the beginning of the book. But even on its own, this chapter 3 of Job stands as a comfort to the one who is suffering. You are not alone. God knows. He hears your cry. Even Job suffered.
And from the standpoint of the New Testament, we know that we have a Savior who suffered as we have, who suffered for us, that one day we might live with him forever where there will be no more crying or pain, for the older things will have passed away and all will be new.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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