Job 30: Where Is God in my Pain!
December 7, 2018
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
This is perhaps, in some ways, the most depressing chapter in the whole book. And that is saying something! Job is now continuing his complaints. He is mounting his defense against those who have attacked him in the midst of his suffering. As if his pain was not bad enough, his own friends and fellow human beings have argued with him that what has happened to him is all his fault. And now Job, in poetic and painfully brilliant language, distills the agony of it all into this gut-wrenching chapter.
In the first part of the chapter, Job rails against all the people who are mocking him. “But now they mock me, men younger than I.” He repeats the age disparity in verse 9, suggesting that the people who were younger than he was were particularly offensive. These whipper-snappers, knee-high-to-a-grasshopper, young’uns, were now wandering around telling him off! Plus, they were people who, in a previous life, he would have thought did not have the standing to be little more than his hired hands. Their “fathers he would have disdained to put with his sheep dogs.” Perhaps we see a little bit of pride from Job here? At any rate, we cannot fault him for long given the agony that he is going through. These people, so much lower down the social scale than he felt himself to be, were now vaunting over him and – even – spitting at him. “They do not hesitate to spit in my face.”
Being criticized is never a pleasant experience. Baseless criticism is less pleasant still. And when you receive undeserved criticism from people who themselves could be rightly criticized – well, it’s hard to bear, as Job was discovering! Perhaps you have experienced something like that. Perhaps you are experiencing it. Maybe you can find some solace in the fact that Job experienced it too. And one greater than Job and more righteous. He was reviled, yet did not return cursing. He was spat upon, but did not spit back. He was tempted in every as we are, and yet was without sin, and so is able to help us in our time of need. Trust in him. Trust in Jesus in your hours of darkness and when people turn on you. What Job was going through here was a brutal, almost animal-like, series of attacks. The “tribe” attacks. He’s being ganged up on. He’s being mobbed. The sharks sense blood and they are circling. Again, maybe you have experienced something like this. Office politics can be brutal, not to mention the real politics of government. Church politics, I’m saddened to say, can sometimes be vicious too, especially because the iron fist is hidden behind a silk glove of fake piety. But again, take solace, not just from the fact that Job went through it, but that Jesus was betrayed by the Pharisees, and in his strength, your weakness is made perfect.
The reason why I say that this is perhaps the most challenging chapter in the book is because of the second half of the chapter. Here Job makes it clear that he feels abandoned by God – or rather, to be more precise, attacked by God. “God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me.” “[God] throws me into the mud.” “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer.” All this means that, as he puts it:
My skin grows black and peels; my body burns with fever. My lyre is tuned to mourning, and my pipe to the sound of wailing (verses 30-31).
What do you when God does not answer your prayers? What do you do when you sense that your suffering is actually caused by God? Strange though it may seem, if you can become clear in your mind that even suffering is from the sovereign hand of God (in some mysterious way), then you can be confident that good will come to those who love God. This is because you know that God’s final purpose for your life is not pain or suffering. He who gave you his own Son, how will he not also give you all things? God did not send Jesus to die for you so that he could destroy you, but so that he could save you! Therefore, if this same God is in control of even your suffering, then you can be assured that he is also going to bring good even out of evil.
It is those who remove God from the realm of suffering who have so little reason for hope. If God is not involved in suffering, then he cannot be involved in hope either. But those who bow before the sovereign God, who say as Job did that God was involved in his own suffering, thereby can also say as Paul did, that “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” The reason why the cross is a place of hope is because it is all under God’s control, and the resurrection, therefore, and life and hope and joy in the morning, are all under God’s control too.
Perhaps you do feel like Job feels here in this second half of this chapter. Where is God in my pain! I empathize with that feeling. I too have sometimes felt as if God was not answering my prayers. But, hard as it is often is, I also know where to look when I wonder what God is doing. I look to the cross. For there I can see a God of love, who suffered and gave his life for me.
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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