Job 31:24-40: Trust in the Midst of Pain
December 9, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
John 16:25-33, Revelation 6, Job 31:24-40, Amos 3-4
Job, in this second part of this chapter, now concludes the final part of his defense. You’ll remember that he has been accused by his so-called “comforters” of deserving the suffering that he is experiencing. They feel there can be no other explanation for his pain other than that he has done something to warrant it. But Job insists that that is not the case. He is innocent of any great evil, and what is happening to him is not his fault. They will not listen! And so Job continues again to make the argument that he has not done anything wrong. Once more, in this second part of the chapter, Job describes all the things that he could have done (using the conditional “if…”), but that he has not done. Therefore, he is suffering in a way that is not deserved, and indeed in a way that he cannot explain. This is the torture that faces Job. It is a triple whammy: not only is he suffering, he is being accused by his friends; and not only are both those things facing him, he is also unable to answer the central question, why it is that he is suffering.
This is, in some ways, now familiar territory in this Book of Job. We have heard much of this before, if again it is expressed in novel poetic language and with emotive brilliance. But there is a part here that stands out as especially significant. Job says this:
“(‘Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense—let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. I would give him an account of my every step; I would present it to him as to a ruler.)” (31:35-37).
It is presented in the translation as almost an aside, indicated by the use of brackets in the English text. But what a statement! He is longing that God would answer him. Will he? When we come to the end of the Book of Job, we will find that God does answer Job. And even before we come to that end of the book, we know, those of us who have read the New Testament, the centrality of the cross to the answer that Job is looking for.
If, then, you are in pain and feel like you are being asked to have the patience of Job in the midst of that pain; if this is your lot, and your difficulty; if perhaps, in addition, your friends do not understand you; or even blame you; if, further, you sense that God seems to be silent; well, if that is what you are going through, remember Job. Remember that he, righteous though he was, still suffered. Use some of his words as your own as you talk to God or speak to yourself about your own experience. Remember Job, and in particular, remember that one who fulfilled all that Job suffered and more. Remember Christ, remember his death for you and your sins. Remember the cross. And when you are tempted to finally despair, see him hung dead there for you, the crown of thorns and the nail-pierced side, and his cry “it is finished,” and take real comfort from the suffering God who gave himself for you. Know that he who did so much for you, how will he not also give you all things. And trust him to know the best time and the best way to answer your heart-felt cries to him in prayer.
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.
To receive God Centered Life devotionals directly in your inbox, as well as other resources, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page and click "subscribe."