October 16 – Today’s Readings – Job 13-15 and Psalms 106
Job’s “friends” are persistent in trying to find a “quick fix” to his problems and to restate their opinion of God’s character and how things work. “The solution to Job’s problems must be simple”, they thought. “Job must be lacking something – or have too much of something – sin in his heart – or lack of faith – or broken relationships – or not enough knowledge – SOMETHING is wrong with Job or this would not be happening to him.”
In Chapter 13:4 Job fires back at his comforters; “You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you!” We all know what a physician is but do we understand that we all can be “physicians” to each other? Our words – our prayers – our attitudes – our touch – our faith – the look in our eyes – the tone of voice we use – whether we are accusing our friends or comforting them – all these things bring a physician’s touch to people who are in trouble. All of these things speak of loving our neighbor or judging our neighbor. Would Job’s sufferings have been easier if his friends had been sensitive to his real needs? Not physically of course but emotionally and spiritually – yes! One of the greatest secrets to health is how a person handles things spiritually and emotionally. The friends may not have known it but the Devil himself used them to bring Job down to the lowest emotional place he could be. If a person feels rejected by God and all those he cares about, what is there left to live for? Job’s suicidal thoughts ought not to surprise us – he was in shock, in depression, in grief, in anger, without any evident support from God, without his wife, rejected by friends and resigned to the fact he would die very soon. At this point a person needs comfort so that even through his tears he knows someone cares.
There are others in Scripture who arrived at the door of death, yet came out shining like gems. Think of Joseph for a moment (Genesis chapters 30-50) Here was a man who learned what it was like to suffer and be in torment – yet without sin. The Bible says he was just 17 when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and was a full forty years old when he was promoted out of prison to be the governor of Egypt. (Genesis 37:2 & 41:46) He spent 23 hard and painful years, suffering for no fault of his own. Was God absent? Did He not care? Was He judging Joseph for some sin? Was He playing games with Joseph’s life? The answer to all these questions is “no” of course and Joseph managed to grow in grace, wisdom, and spiritual gifting as he spent his years slowly dying in the dungeon and in slavery. He also managed to not hold bitterness and anger in his heart, so that he was finally able to clearly represent God to his family. – “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 45:5)
Trials will come – and so will difficulties. In the process we must always remember that God is for us and is with us. Herein lies our hope.
1. Have you ever felt misunderstood and not “comforted” in a very difficult situation? Tell about it and how you would have handled it differently.
2. Give an example of a person who suffered great difficulty as a direct result of sin or moral failing.