I read Job 29 and 30 this morning. A stark contrast. A compelling before and after picture.
There’s Job’s recollection of the days when he was in his prime and the “friendship of God” (29:4) was upon his tent, versus his current days, days when God had cast him “into the mire” and he had become but “dust and ashes” (30:19). The before when he knew “the Almighty was yet with me” because his children were still with him (29:5), versus the after when Job’s cries for help went unanswered (30:20) and all he could discern was that God had “turned cruel” to him (30:21). The yesterdays of Job’s wide-spread renown and popularity (29:7-11), versus the todays when both young and old derided him (30:1). Oh, those were the days, my friend, when Job thought that the prosperity he enjoyed then would be his dying prosperity (29:18). Instead, he finds himself with the life sucked out of him and “the days of affliction” binding him (30:16). Heavy sigh.
And that’s where my Job reading ends for today. No happy ending. No clean resolution. No obvious redemption. We’re still chapters away from the epic God reveal that puts Job’s sorrow and suffering into a much, much bigger context. Today’s reading ends and Job’s “fiddle plays nothing but the blues” and his “mouth harp wails laments” (30:31 MSG). Heavy sigh, again.
So, as I chew on it what do I do with it?
First, though Job looked up at an empty sky and wondered if God was even there much less aware, the fact that these chapters were recorded and have been preserved through the millennia reminds me that God does know, that He is intimately aware of our suffering. And not just theoretically aware but, because of the incarnation, He is personally and practically aware.
In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
(Hebrews 5: 7-9 ESV)
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
(Hebrews 4:15 ESV)
Does Jesus know all about our sorrows? You know He knows!
Does Jesus care? O yes, He cares!
Then, I’m reminded that I’m not done the story yet. That there are more chapters yet to be read. That through Job’s suffering there will more about God to savor. That despite his present darkness there will come the promised light. That through his current season of barrenness there will be unimaginable glory to behold. And that brings me back to Job’s million dollar question at the beginning of the book seasoned with some New Testament perspective.
“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”
(Job 2:10 ESV)
. . . but [God] disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
(Hebrews 12:10b-11 ESV)
So, while I finish this morning’s reading with Job still in the middle of his continuing suffering, confusion, and despair, I also leave with a sense of sweet anticipation. Reminded that today’s “after” picture will itself one day be but a faint “before” memory.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
(Romans 8:18 ESV)
By His grace. For his glory.