Worn out! Weary, exhausted. At the end of one’s rope. Done! That’s how Job’s feeling this morning in chapter sixteen. Numbed by the mental anguish. Little strength left to deal with the physical pain. Not sure he can take much more from his miserable comforters. “Surely now God has worn me out,” he laments (Job 16:7).
And, in a sense, he’s right. Nothing has come upon him that has not passed through the fingers of God. That Satan was allowed to touch Job’s family and possessions? Granted by God (Job 1:9-12). That the accuser could then inflict Job’s body? Only possible according to divine, sovereign permission (Job 2:4-6). So, true statement . . . that Job was going through the ringer was, in a sense, of God.
But what Job can’t see is the why? He knows the what of his circumstance, but why heaven has apparently turned against him is beyond his understanding. He has no idea of the conversations that have occurred in the first chapters of Job. And so he is left to himself to figure out the why of his suffering and thus concludes, “He has torn me in His wrath and hated me; He has gnashed His teeth at me; my adversary sharpens His eyes against me” (Job 16:9). God has turned against me, says Job. God has set Himself in opposition to me, Job concludes. There’s no other explanation to what’s happening to me except that, for some reason, God has declared me His enemy.
And you want to shout back through the ages, “No Job! Not at all! It’s because He’s pleased with you, that God has allowed this. God’s been telling all of heaven that you are blameless and upright, one who fears God and turns away from evil. He is so sure of you he has let your real adversary, Satan, sift you like wheat. Yes, your suffering has been allowed by God. But it’s not because He’s your enemy. Not because He has set His face against you. It’s for His glory.”
But no such perspective is offered Job. Not by his “friends” and certainly not by the silence of heaven. In fact, when that silence is broken, when God has His one-on-one with Job later in the story, He still doesn’t reveal to Job why God has allowed what God has allowed. Instead in His grace, God will give Job an intense refresher course on who God is. And, it turns out, that will be enough. However, right now, Job’s hurting and confused and worn out.
Yet, even at his weakest, faith surfaces, though perhaps just as a mustard seed. Even while thinking he has become God’s targeted enemy (16:12), He trusts in God’s all-knowing integrity.
Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high. (Job 16:19 ESV)
Even though Job feels like God must be against him, he knows that God is really for him. Job’s witness is in heaven. The only One who sees things for what they truly are is enthroned on high. He who knows the thoughts and intents of the hearts of men reigns above all. And that He knows Job . . . that He has seen Job’s sincere devotion . . . that He has rightly assessed Job as blameless and upright, that Job fears God and turns from evil, is Job’s only plea. The evidence is in heaven. And Job believes there is an Advocate who will testify for him on high.
Though Job’s struggling . .. though he’s confused and tired . . . though he’s worn out and done, yet Job will not curse God and die. He still believes that it is God’s sovereign right to give and to take away. He will, even while demanding an audience with the Almighty Judge, also shout, “Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Even in the tiresome testing, you see Job trusting.
Gotta love this guy. You hurt for him as, for most of us, our stories at one point or another intertwine with his. Might we also, by grace, endure knowing our Witness is in heaven and our Advocate testifies for us on high. Trusting, even in the testing.
For His glory . . .