You wonder if Job’s just getting tired. Apart from the chronic pain sapping his strength, there’s the incessant drip of his miserable comforters telling him to ‘fess up and admit that what he’s going through must be because of the wrong he has done. The protracted debate wearing him out as they say, “God is just, therefore the degree of your suffering must be an indicator of the degree of your sin,” to which Job repeatedly defends himself contending, “No, I am righteous, surely God’s made a mistake somehow. If only I could talk with Him then I’d straighten things out.” Back and forth they go.
And at some point, I imagine, Job lets out a deep sigh and with a loud cry laments, I just want to go back to the good old days–the days when God watched over me.
And Job again took up his discourse, and said: “Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me, when His lamp shone upon my head, and by His light I walked through darkness, as I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent.”
(Job 29:1-4 ESV)
In chapter 29, Job lists what marked those days of the past “when God watched over me.” The days when God’s protective hand was active. The days when His leading was clear. The days when Job was in his prime, knowing blessing upon blessing–physically, emotionally, and spiritually–from the seeds he had sown. The days when God’s friendship was felt in his home. Those days . . . oh, how he longed for those days.
And it’s so easy to relate. I’m guessing we all have had seasons where we longed to be in a previous season, an easier season. Bad days that make us long for the good ol’ days. Days of barrenness and loneliness when we long for the days when we were full and surrounded–not just with other people, but with God Himself. Times when we wonder, is God still watching? When we being to question whether God is still leading as we stumble through the desert. When we’re tired, our eyes are dim, and we wonder where the light has gone.
But as I hover over Job’s lament, I find myself thinking, “God’s still watching over Job.”
Job was God’s boast before the enemy: “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” “He’ll curse You,” taunts Satan, “if you let me at him and remove the blessing he’s known.” Go for it, says God, “Only against him do not stretch our your hand” (1:8-12). God is still watching over Job though the enemy is permitted some latitude in Job’s life.
And after Job loses everything and yet continues to bless the name of the Lord, God’s lamp shines on Job’s head again as He displays Job before Satan as a trophy of righteousness through faith. But again Satan says, so what? “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse You to Your face.” God, still watching over Job, replies, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life” (2:3-6).
Job went through nothing that God did not permit. Nothing touched Job that hadn’t already gone through God’s fingers. And while Job suffered, it was not evidence of a God who had stopped watching, or caring, or protecting. Not because the friendship of God had left the tent. These were still the days “when God watched over me.”
Job didn’t know the back story to his story. Wasn’t privy to the drama behind the scenes. Couldn’t have imagined the spiritual battle which enveloped his circumstance. But these things were “written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
The days when God watched over me . . . those are these days.
Days of all sufficient grace. Days for His everlasting glory.