You Talk . . . I’ll Listen

There seems to be an increased clarity as I read through Job this year.

To be honest, in past years I’ve read through the story and there’s been kind of a fog between chapters 3 and 37. After the initial showdown between God and the devil in heaven and Job’s remarkable response to the calamity he suffers on earth, the back and forth debate between Job and his friends has often been less than clear and I’ve read through it only to get to the end and God’s whirlwind encounter with Job. But this year, more and more of the debate has jumped off the page at me, particularly Job’s diatribes. And Job’s response to suffering seems to have resulted in Job becoming the center of Job’s universe, even to the point of saying to God, “I’ll talk . . . You listen.”

“Behold, I have prepared my case; I know that I shall be in the right. Who is there who will contend with me? For then I would be silent and die. Only grant me two things, then I will not hide myself from Your face: withdraw Your hand far from me, and let not dread of You terrify me. Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and You reply to me.”    ~ Job to God      (Job 13:18-22 ESV)

Incredible! Job is so convinced of the injustice that has befallen him because he was a man who, by God’s own testimony, was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil,” that his vindication becomes his obsession. It seems that Job’s fight for his own righteousness reputation increases as the argument goes on. And if Job must increase, then you gotta know that God must decrease.

Almost comical, in a way.

“God,” says Job, “would You please stop frightening me so with Your awesome Sovereign determination? Would You, Lord, ease up with the fear of God stuff. And would You do it so that I can get a word in edgewise and present my case — my iron clad case that I am in the right and You’ve somehow made a big mistake? And once You remove Your dread from me and I get off my face from before Your holy presence, then give me a call and I will answer . . . or, if You prefer, I’ll lead the conversation and You can answer me?”

Not trying to be overly sarcastic, but isn’t that the tone of Job’s bargaining with God? Not being judgmental or trying to play the “blame game” but isn’t there some fascinating insight as to how suffering can turn one’s attention solely on themselves to the point of clouding their view of God? I’m thinkin’ . . .

How I need to beware of trials becoming all about me. How I need to be on guard against being so consumed by life’s less-than-best circumstances that hubris displaces humility . . . that contention squeezes out contrition . . . that the things of earth overshadow my hope in the things of heaven.

Not judging . . . in fact, probably relating a bit too much.

Love this guy, Job. Love the God He serves. I know what’s coming. God in His awesome, mighty, knee-shaking grace will rebuke Job . . . and reconcile Job . . . and revive Job . . . and restore Job. They’ll have their conversation . . . not as Job anticipates . . . but as Job needs.

Mine in reading this story is to learn from it. Such that, no matter what the trial or testing, by His grace I might always bow and say, “Lord, You talk . . . I’ll listen.”

Because of grace . . . for His glory.

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