Last week, in Managing Troubles, Part 4, we discovered that falling into the trap of talking but not listen will only make things worse for us. This week’s lesson focuses on another mistake we so often make when faced with troubles: We fail to see God’s unfailing love through them!
In Job 9, Job’s friend, Bildad the Shuhite, has just finished his first accusation, the gist of which says that the fact that Job is suffering indicates he has committed sin.
Job’s initial response is non-argumentative, but desperate: “Truly I know it is so, But how can a man be righteous before God? If one wished to contend with Him, He could not answer Him one time out of a thousand. God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?” (Job 9:2-4 NKJV)
Job then goes on to give example after example of God’s might, and Job is right to do so. In fact, it would appear that Job has a very accurate, clear picture of God being all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present.
But Job’s picture of God isn’t complete, for he goes on to say:
“If I called and He answered me, I would not believe that He was listening to my voice.” (Job 9:16 NKJV)
In other words, Job didn’t believe that God in all His power and might would stop to listen to one little voice! Job’s view of God did NOT include one all-important part of God: “God is love …” (1 John 4:16 NKJV)
But, you ask, how can you say Job didn’t believe in God’s love for us from this simple verse?
Job goes on to describe a potential day in court:
“Though I were righteous, my own mouth would condemn me; Though I were blameless, it would prove me perverse.” (Job 9:20 NKJV)
“Therefore I say, ‘He destroys the blameless and the wicked.'” (Job 9:22 NKJV)
In other words, once God decides to destroy, He does so, regardless of the facts. God even changes the facts to prove His point!
That doesn’t sound like a God of love, does it? Yet we know that He is love, and we know that God never changes: “For I am the Lord, I do not change . . .” (Mal 3:6 NKJV)
Job goes on to continue to prove that he believes in God’s sovereignty, yet not in God’s love.
“If I wash myself with snow water, And cleanse my hands with soap, Yet You will plunge me into the pit, And my own clothes will abhor me.” (Job 9:30-31 NKJV)
“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.” (Job 9:32-33 NKJV)
Again, what Job says is true! We can’t wash away our own sin! Only the blood of Jesus can do that! And we do need an arbitrator, for sinful man cannot enter into the presence of a loving God! (See John 3:36 and 1 Tim. 2:5-7)
But what Job didn’t understand here is simply this: God does not distance Himself from us because He doesn’t care. It is our sin that distances us from Him! “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” (Isa 59:1-2 NKJV)
Friends, what Job was missing in his picture of God was the element of eternal, unfailing, perfect love! Love that made a way: Initially through the sacrificial system and the priesthood, and later, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Job was right: He couldn’t stand up and face God in court. But he was wrong to think this was by God’s design. His understanding of God was not perfect. It excluded God’s perfect love for us!
How often don’t we hear: “God has abandoned me! God’s hand of punishment is upon me!”
This is a dangerous statement to make, friends! When we say such things, we are making the same presumptuous statement as Job: We are presuming to fully understand God, when we know we will never understand Him fully here on Earth, and we are also forgetting about God’s unfailing love.
Let’s fast forward here to the end of the book of Job: “Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters.” (Job 42:12-14 NKJV)
Whatever it is you are facing, no matter how much it may seem to you that God has abandoned you, He hasn’t. And He won’t. We may not see the big picture God sees. We may not know what’s going on in the Heavenly cosmos. But we can rest easy in God’s unfailing love.
So the next time you face troubled times, let’s learn a few lessons from Job. Let’s recognize that it is during our troubled times that we grow, and God knows how to bring good things out of bad situations. Let’s learn to avoid some of the pit-falls that Job fell into: Self-Pity, self-righteousness, and not truly listening. And finally, let’s remember that we can always rest easy in God’s unfailing love!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Speech-Language Pathologist, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire “Managing Troubles” mini-series, please click here.)