Seven days. For seven days and seven nights Job’s friends sat with him on the ground, “and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great” (Job 2:13).
Suffering. Silence. For seven days. Because what do you say when you don’t know what to say? How do you make sense of something that doesn’t make sense?
Talk about your riches to rags story. Your blessed to battered journey. From having everything to having nothing, not even your health.
His friends thought they’d go to “show him sympathy and comfort him.” But when they saw him, they could barely recognize the shadow of their former friend and they, themselves, were broken. They raised their voices in weeping. They tore their clothes in mourning. And they sat with him in his suffering. Silent. For seven days.
So who’s gonna blame Job when he finally breaks the silence with his broken cry, “Why?”
“Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire? . . . Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light? . . . Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul? . . . Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?”
(Job 3:11, 16, 20, 23 ESV)
Honestly, reading Job’s a lot easier when you’ve read it a few times and you know how it ends. Not just because the LORD restores the fortunes of Job and ends up blessing the latter days of Job more than his beginning (42:10, 12) — not because it’s a happy ever after ending. But because you discover that there may not be an answer for the “why” question, but there is always the opportunity in the “why” to know more deeply the Who (42:2).
But the distance between what the mind can know and what the heart feels it can endure is often a great expanse. Knowing that “all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28), and feeling that everything’s going to be ok, are often miles apart. That’s why, when the silence was broken–after seven days–Job laments.
“I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes.”
(Job 3:26 ESV)
That’s why he imagines that being stillborn would have provided the repose and quietness of soul he so longed for.
“There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest.”
(Job 3:17 ESV)
The turmoil gone. The weary at rest. Who, at some point in their lives, hasn’t wanted that place? Who hasn’t wanted to be there?
But we know that there is not found in never having been, but in having been drawn closer to our God through our suffering. That there is realized in testing our faith when our strength fades. That there is seen when our heads are lifted up though our souls were cast down. That there is found in looking to Jesus . . .
. . . the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
(Hebrews 12:2-3 ESV)
In Jesus the wicked cease from their troubling. In Jesus the weary are at rest. Today, by faith. In a day not far off, then face to face.
That’s where I want to be. There!
By His grace. For His glory.