Job (Letter 18, Larry Crabb’s 66 Love Letters)

To Rest in Hope, You Must Writhe in Pain 

Hear me say it clearly; I make no promise to provide you with the good things you legitimately want in this world. Do not trust me for a pleasant, prosperous life. Let me quote Soren Kierkegaard again. He learned wisdom through pain. ‘Nothing is more certain. Coming close to God brings catastrophe. Everyone whose life does not bring relative catastrophe has never even once turned … to God; it is just as impossible as it is to touch the conductor of a generator without getting a shock.’

Learn, too, what my Jewish servant Abraham Herschel discovered: ‘God is not nice. God is not an uncle. God is an earthquake. The world of Christiandom, so far removed from Christianity, does not believe that, it does not want to believe that.’ 

I wrote Job to reveal who I am, not who you imagine Me to be. I permit suffering but never more, always less, than I experienced. Gaze on Calvary, look at My Son. We are committed to your well being, to your eternal joy, to getting you to the party. We suffered, then, in ways you will never experience, and We suffer with you, now, until the party begins, until the banquet is ready. 

Job’s friends reduced me to a traffic cop. Obey the speed limit, and I let you drive on the beach. Drive too fast, and I interfere with your plans. That false image of me gives rise to the cry I hear from many: ‘I don’t deserve this. I lived well, you owe me a better life.’ 

It was in the darkness of unexplained suffering that Job learned he was not the prosecuting attorney nor I the defendant. My message to him is My message to you: I remain all powerful and all good in your darkest night. Trust me. You don’t know enough not to. 

The morning star is visible when the darkness is deepest. 

Listen again to Kirkegaard. He understood what your generation doesn’t. ‘God punishes the ungodly by ignoring them. This is why they have success in the world — the most frightful punishment because in God’s view, this world is immersed in evil. But God sends suffering to those whom he loves, as assistance to enable them to become happy by loving him.’ That is what I am saying to you in this letter. 

Job: The Hardest Question – From Ray Stedman<-(click here for entire Bible summary)

“Why does apparently senseless tragedy strike men?”
The answer given is that senseless suffering arises out of Satan’s continual challenge to the government of God. Satan’s philosophy is that the question “What’s in it for me?” is the only accurate explanation for why people do anything. And here, in the presence of God, he asserts that anyone who claims that human beings act from any other motive is simply a religious phony; furthermore, he claims he can prove it. God says, rather patiently, “All right, we’ll test your theory.” Then he selects the man Job to be the proving ground.

First, all Job’s oxen have been taken by enemy raids, and then all his asses have been decimated. Next, word comes that his sheep have been killed by a terrible electric storm, and crowding in after that is the news that his great herd of camels, has been wiped out in a natural catastrophe. Then comes the heartrending news that all of his children were killed in one fatal blow.
Job takes it all in stride. His response :
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gives, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” {Job 1:21}

Without warning, Job is suddenly stricken with a series of terrible boils. His wife says, “…Why don’t you curse God and die?” Job has to stand alone.

Then comes the final test, when he receives a visit from three of his friends. And the three friends’ answers are all the same. They answer the question of Job’s problems with smug, dogmatic assurances that only one explanation is possible: he has committed some awful sin. All the time they are attacking his integrity with the argument that if God is indeed just, then the righteous are always blessed and the wicked always suffer; therefore, if an individual is suffering, it must be because there is something wrong in his life.

Elihu, speaking for youth, stands up to say, “You are all wrong. You friends of Job are wrong because you accuse him unjustly, and Job is wrong because he blames God for his difficulty. He is accusing God in order to exonerate himself.”

God’s essential argument is that life is too complicated for simple answers. If you are demanding that God come up with simple answers to these deep and complicated problems, you are asking him to do more than you are able to understand.

Job, overwhelmed by the vast might and wisdom and majesty of God, falls on his face, repents, and learns the lesson that God wants him to learn. In other words, God does not exist for man but man exists for God. God is not a glorified bell-boy at whom we can snap our fingers and have him run up asking, “May I take your order?” We exist for him. We are God’s instruments for the working out of his purposes, some of which are so vastly complicated they are quite beyond our ability to understand. There are many questions which simply cannot be answered because our calculating machinery is so inadequate.

God says to Job, “Now I want you to pray for your friends – these three dear men, so stubborn, so sure that they had all the answers, so well meaning, so sincere, so dedicated, but such utter blunderers. Pray for them, Job.”

Job – David Jeremiah (Understanding the 66 Books of the Bible)

Key thought: Those who turn fully to God in sorrow — even if they argue, plead, and protest His presence as Job did — will find a pathway to the tender mercies of heaven.

Key Verse: For I know that my redeemer lives and He shall stand at last on the earth. Job 19:25

Key Action: We must trust God even when it appears he is slaying us (see Job 13:15).