January 11, 2017. Job 29-31.
In these 3 chapters Job finishes up his dialogue with his 3 friends. He extolls his past relationship with God, his virtues among the people, and then expresses his desire for those ‘glory days’. Job then transitions to how drastically disheartening things have changed for him and finishes up his monologue by once again defending his righteousness.
I can only wish that I had a resume as impressive. And the thing is: Job is not delusional about all of this. He was a righteous man and he knew it, but more importantly, God knew it and declared it! From the first chapter of this monologue, God says “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8) God repeats the same in Job 2:3 and adds “And he (Job) still maintains his integrity.” Job was indeed a righteous man.
“How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone on my head and by his light I walked through darkness! Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.”
Job is longing for those days when God seemed so near and life was a joy. Even when he experienced darkness previously, he was still comforted by God’s light. Now, life is a disaster and Job fears that God has abandoned him. He has no sense of feeling God’s nearness now. Have you ever felt like this? I have. What changed? Where did God go? Why can’t I hear God speak anymore? In my own life, I find the answer to these questions most of the time are definitely related to me moving away from God, not vice versa. But that is not true with Job. He maintained his integrity and his righteousness in God’s eyes. So how do you explain Job’s situation? You can’t.
From reading the first chapters of Job, we know why Job is going through this testing: God has allowed Satan to test him to see if he can get Job to curse God. We know that! Job doesn’t! So Job keeps asking “WHY” these things are happening to him. He wants God to answer him. But Job is asking the wrong question. Knowing ‘why’ would not have changed the situation. So many times we ask “why”, when the correct question would be “how?’ “How do you want me to respond, God?” “How do I walk through this without losing faith?” “How can I be a testimony for others even in suffering?” Even if you know the answer to “why”, you’ve still got to get to the point where you can ask those “how” questions and respond righteously.