Just finished reading Job 3. Job’s delivered up the first volley in what will be a long back-and-forth match — him against his so-called comforters. A match which for millennia has been replayed over and over as many who have shared to some degree with Job’s experience try to make sense of their own experience. And Job’s opening serve is anything but an ace. Rather, it’s a “why?”
“Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire? . . . 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, 20, 23 ESV)
Everything Job has worked for, everything he has cherished, everything for which he has given thanks to God, everything which he consistently consecrated to God (1:5), it’s all gone. Health, wealth, and family — “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken way” (1:20b). So, wonders aloud the man covered “with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (2:7), Why?
Why did God give if God knew it would be taken away? Why so much suffering and sorrow when God is wholly sovereign? Why, Job cries, did God let me even start the race if He knew the train wreck it would lead to? Why is light given? Why, if it’s only to be enveloped in such darkness?
And the thing about reading Job for the umpteenth time is that you can’t help but process these opening questions in light of the closing chapters. You know how the story ends and so you want to jump in at the beginning and get in on the action, “Job, I know why!” Sort of . . .
“Why is light given?” What hits me this morning is the Ecclesiastes nature of the question.
Job’s focus is being born into natural light, the light we find here on earth. The same context in which the ancient Preacher of Ecclesiastes concluded that everything that is done “under the sun” is but “vanity and a striving after wind” (Eccl. 1:14). If that’s the only light there is to see, then in the end — regardless of when the end comes or how well life goes until the end — it’s all meaningless.
And while there’s a long back-and-forth debate to come between Job and his friends, his opening disregard for the value of seeing the light of life will give way to an experience and understanding of encountering the Light of eternity. His eyes eventually redirected from the flickering light given “under the sun” to the unapproachable light emitted from the throne of his Creator.
Misery and bitterness of soul, meandering down unmapped roads and boxed in by uncontrollable circumstances, all giving way eventually to beholding the light of the glory of God. An encounter of the divine kind emerging from the despair of his present season of suffering under the sun.
There’s a long way to go in Job before the questions get answered. But the answers won’t come in nice tidy explanations of the why’s of his suffering and sorrow. Instead, the answer will be found in a Who. Resolved through revelation. Light here and now reset in the context of light there and then.
The answer’s coming. Can’t wait to get to the end.
By His grace. For His glory.