Love Came Down to Misery

For He is not a man, as I am,That I may answer Him, And that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both. Let Him take His rod away from me, And do not let dread of Him terrify me. Then I would speak and not fear Him. But it is not so with me. [1]

Of all our losses, loss of faith in the goodness of God is the most tragic.

In the bitter corners of life, when pain overwhelms perspective, like Job, we may start looking for a better alternative than the God who has allowed sorrow to flood our life. In despair, we may seek for an advocate, someone who will speak to God on our behalf, because in our pain we judge God as failing us.

It’s the classic response I hear when I ask people if they believe in God. Often the protest is framed in discouragement, as they question, if there is a God, then why do innocent people suffer so much?

Human suffering Causes faith to stumble head down a rocky path in distress, in a mad search for understanding and revelation. Many dash away in disappointment, trying to become a god of their own making in fear and confusion. Everyone wants a god they can trust. One who doesn’t let pain through.

Despite our rage and reproach, God never leaves the room. Not one inch.

In this place of hurt and confusion, like Job, we need friends who will run hard and fast to our lonely put and shine down the light of love. We need a rope of truth lowered when pain confounds and blinds and shuts us down. We need the breath of faith that shouts and whispers God is love despite our tumble.

His love never fails. He is faithful even when we are faithless.

Unfortunately, Job’s friends didn’t have that piece of revelation. Peaceless, they gave him their very best: a three course meal of judgement, legalism and rational defence of an indefensible immutable God. Baffled by circumstance, they tried to box God up in the limited package of their own understanding. They bruised Job deeply with their foolishness.

In this place of torment, Job’s real tragedy lay in his demand that God defend Himself to Job and stand trial for the suffering to that had landed upon Job’s life so brutally. I expect it wasn’t the grief of losing his kids or property, but the agony of being judged and misunderstood that pushed Job past the point of trust in the God he loved, into a courtroom of judgement against the Almighty. In agony, Job interrogated his God, wondering how this Almighty loving God could leave him in such a state of misery:

You have granted me life and favor, And Your care has preserved my spirit.‘And these things You have hidden in Your heart;I know that this was with You: If I sin, then You mark me,And will not acquit me of my iniquity.If I am wicked, woe to meEven if I am righteous, I cannot lift up my head. I am full of disgrace;See my misery! If my head is exalted, You hunt me like a fierce lionAnd again You show Yourself awesome against me. You renew Your witnesses against me,And increase Your indignation toward me; Changes and war are ever with me. [2]

Job’s stark confrontation with God is not easy to read. It reflects our dark accusations, our own pain when things have shifted, when we don’t understand, when we try our best and things still go miserably horribly wrong.

Many Christians avoid the book of Job or skim it quick. Perhaps they fear Job’s distress is contagious, that by reading Job’s accusations against God, they might catch his heartsickness and lose their way. When facing the unfathomable story of Job’s suffering permitted by God in a throwdown challenge before Satan, we are uncomfortable. We wrestle with all we know about God and His goodness. Some may consider Job a character in an ancient story, irrelevant to our time, but regardless of source or time period, Job forces us into honest introspection about God and His sovereignty and the suffering of humanity.

Job speaks from place of stark honesty before his God that is intimate and intense.

Job gives us language to frame the doubts and fears we face times of intense sorrow and disappointment in others, in ourselves, in our God.

In his relationship with the Lord, Job didn’t sin. Though he questions, confronts and wrestles with God, he does not waver in honour of God’s unlimited power, that God is large and in charge and that Job lived small, hurting  and wondering.  From his devotion to his God, Job requests an explanation for his suffering and begs for a conversation:

Only two things do not do to me,Then I will not hide myself from You: Withdraw Your hand far from me, And let not the dread of You make me afraid. Then call, and I will answer; Or let me speak, then You respond to me. [3]

As Job acknowledged God as both responsible for his sufferings and the only One with the power to change his circumstances, he asked God keep dread far from his heart as they connected. Despite his trauma,  Job also stayed in the room, willing to ask and keep asking until trust flowed once more between him and his Lord.

In response, God gave Job the most exquisite and complex revelation of Himself to any person in history.

In Job chapters 38to 42, for over a hundred and twenty verses, God reveals to Job Himself, how he created the universe, placed the constellations in the sky, ordered the boundaries of the waves upon the shore and more.

God answered with Himself for all of us to read in the book of Job. Love stepped down into Job’s misery not with rescue but with a vaster perspective of the greatness of our God.  Because of Job, we gained the grace of knowing our God even deeper. Revelation of God  comes as those who suffer choose faith, resist despair and refuse to curse their God. Whether they live, thrive or die in abandoned worship to Almighty God, heroes stand and reveal the face of our God and the priceless worth of our King. How I thank God for the faithful who lead us onward in the historic procession of victory that began with our King’s valiant choice for His brutal cross.

Let’s Pray: Lord, we confess that many times when sorrows have come, we have hidden ourselves from You, rather than stay and work through our disappointment in Your sovereign reign. Father, give us the grace to live honest and bring our doubts and fears before You, that You would respond to our cry. Thank You for Job, who teaches us how to stay connected, in covenant with You, in good times and in bad. Holy Spirit, seal the truth of the goodness of God in our hearts,  that we would stay faithful when circumstances state otherwise.  Lord Jesus, You, our Mediator, have shown God’s love and mercy, His unwavering goodness, by Your sacrifice on the cross. The question of God’s love has once, and for all, been answered through Your life, Your death and Your resurrection, Jesus. Thank you that Love has come down to our misery.  Thank you that though He may slay us, we will praise our mighty God. Amen.

Study Questions:

1. Have you wrestled with God over a trial or an injustice? Did you stay or leave the room?

2. Read Chapters 38-42 of Job. What parts ministers deepest about what God revealed about Himself to Job?

3. Worship is a powerful tool to gain perspective. How  has worship shifted you or your circumstances?

4. Job’s friends blew it in every direction.  What can you do when your counsel brings pain? Are you willing to confront your fears about God enough to quit religious knee jerk responses to pain?

5. Write the Lord a love letter this week. See how it shifts your heart. Tell me about it, or a friend.

This week’s reading: Job 8-18

Next Week’s reading: Job 19 – 30
[1]The New King James Version. 1982 (Job 9:32-35). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2]The New King James Version. 1982 (Job 10:12-17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[3]The New King James Version. 1982 (Job 13:20-22). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

4 thoughts on “Love Came Down to Misery

  1. Hi Jenny!
    Love the live letter to God task for this week 😃

    Just got home from the airport n couldn’t wait to read this weeks post … so enjoyed it!!
    Blessing s to you for your faithfulness to this journey Jenny! I am thoroughly enjoying it!!
    Hope to see you at Church later this am 😴😴😴
    Laurie

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Jen….just want you to know I think you are brilliant…love your writing here on Job. Especially love the line that “God hasn’t left the room…”
    That is a message to preach…brilliant!
    Love ya, Gaetane

    Sent from my iPad

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