For 36 chapters in the book of Job, the suffering patriarch erupts in a molten river of intense emotion, basically protesting, “God, my life is excruciating right now, and I don’t like it. In fact, I wish I had never been born.” As such, we get a window into the heart and mind of a godly man who suffers untold agony. We may not be able physically to feel what Job is feeling at the moment, but we can certainly appreciate the weightiness of his tortured questions. “Where are you in this horrific mess, God? And why won’t you stop it? I’m not happy with you right now. What’s going on?”
As the drama unfolds, we find Job either praying to God out loud, responding to his three friends who admonish him, or talking to nobody in particular—just writhing in pain and bewailing his very existence. We can only conclude from all the ink used in these sacred chapters that when God’s people struggle in profound ways, God knows, and God cares. Our misery is never off his radar. That seems like small comfort, though, when the pain endures.
One thing that often startles people about these chapters is how Job explodes with honest, blunt, and raw expressions about how he feels. Some of his statements don’t seem very pious. They don’t seem to match what we might think a godly person might say in such a situation. And yet, God doesn’t seem to be too terribly upset by that. We might expect by the end of the book that Job would get a divine scolding: “Hey Job, you overdid it. You said things you shouldn’t have said. You should have had a more hopeful outlook. You should have had a more positive confession.”
But no, God essentially says, “Job, you were right. It’s your pickle-faced friends who didn’t express their true feelings but instead quoted all the religious clichés of the day who were way off base.” That may be surprising to us, but it’s an important reminder that in the midst of our flailing faith, God is right there with us. As Job himself said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27).
God did stand upon the earth in the person of Jesus Christ. And when he did, he suffered greatly. His final statement from the cross was, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Like Jesus—and Job—God’s people can do the same today.
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