READ: Read the passage slowly, noticing the raw way Job communicates about God.
(13-20) “God alienated my family from me; everyone who knows me avoids me. My relatives and friends have all left; houseguests forget I ever existed. The servant girls treat me like a bum off the street, look at me like they’ve never seen me before. I call my attendant and he ignores me, ignores me even though I plead with him. My wife can’t stand to be around me anymore. I’m repulsive to my family. Even street urchins despise me; when I come out, they taunt and jeer. Everyone I’ve ever been close to abhors me; my dearest loved ones reject me. I’m nothing but a bag of bones; my life hangs by a thread.
(21-22) “Oh, friends, dear friends, take pity on me. God has come down hard on me! Do you have to be hard on me, too? Don’t you ever tire of abusing me?
(23-27) “If only my words were written in a book – better yet, chiseled in stone! Still, I know that God lives – the One who gives me back my life – and eventually he’ll take his stand on earth. And I’ll see him – even though I get skinned alive! – see God myself, with my very own eyes. Oh, how I long for that day!”
THINK: As you read Job’s honest description of his situation–what it’s really like–what word or phrase gives voice to some of your own thoughts, feelings, and desires? Perhaps one of Job’s statements bring to mind something in your life that’s weighing on you or confuses you.
In all honesty, I have to admit that I have never felt this kind of rejection. However, I have been put in the position , in our current situation, in which I can see that, did my husband and I not have the relationships that we do, it very well could happen. Not only that; it often does to most people. And, to be even more painfully honest, what’s worse is, I would have been one of the people that would – most likely – ostracize someone who was in the position we are in now.
How easy it is to judge when we’ve not been made to see where we need compassion!
To put a more positive spin on things: I think I’d have to say that this realization has been one of the best things to come out of what we’re going through. Being forced to walk a path that I never thought I’d have to walk because I have been obedient. But not just that: my kids are being forced to walk it as well. This is something my husband and I have discussed at length. If this is something we have to pay for because of sins in our past; FINE. But why make our kids pay the price as well. We are living under the New Covenant. There is not supposed to be any more of this: the sins of the Father are visited on the children to the 3rd and 4th generation.
But see how, even in that statement, I made the same kind of judgment that Job’s friends were making. For the majority of the time I’ve been alive, I have always equated suffering with wrong-doing, with punishment for sin (whether I remembered the sin or not). I’ve always figured that if I was suffering, I was being punished, which means I MUST HAVE done something wrong. So, imagine my shock when, my husband and I were obedient to what we felt like the Lord was calling us to do, and then things did not go the way they are “supposed to”. Then, the confusion is only compounded by the idea that we could pay a price for this for the rest of our lives.
I am thankful for the blessing of friends who have not behaved toward me as Job’s friends behaved toward him. But I am humbled by the knowledge that I have, far too many times, been one of Job’s friends – whether I said the words out loud or not.
PRAY: Talk to God about the feelings and thoughts that surface. Be as open as Job as you share them with him. You might write them out to him or just talk to him like a friend – one you’re in conflict with, but one who wants to work through that conflict with you.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you that, with you, nothing is wasted! Thank you that, even in the midst of hard times, you continue to work all things for our benefit. Thank you for the assurance in Scripture that says you have a plan to prosper us, and not to harm us. Thank you for making all things beautiful in their time.
For those who are reading this, who are in the midst of a painful set of circumstances, and can’t understand why, I pray for peace and comfort. I pray You would give them glimpses of the work you are doing that they might be able to make enough sense out of what’s going on to keep going. I pray that You would show them where you’re molding them and shaping them, transforming them more into the likeness of Your Son.
For anyone reading this who has been falsely accused and is suffering persecution, for their spouses, for their children and other loved ones: I pray that you would offer them the assurance that these circumstances have nothing to do with how pleased with them You are. Living in a fallen world, in a world filled with sin, sometimes it’s easy to feel like You have abandoned us at our moments of deepest need. Lord, I pray that you would give each of these people the peace that you have not forsaken them, that you are not deaf to their cries, that you are hearing their prayers, and that they have been answered, though they just cannot see the answer yet. I pray for a renewed sense of hope for good things to come. I pray that their relationships with you would be strengthened, taken to a level deeper than they thought they could ever go.
I pray for fresh insights into the nature of your character. I pray that what seem to be like paradoxes in your character would be cleared up as they come to see that you are both just and merciful, that you do not wish that we would suffer but that you have allowed it in order that you might be glorified.
I pray for “AHA” moments: moments where we realize the truth of something we have known with our heads for so long has finally sunken in, finally taken hold, and we are now able to walk with a sense of peace that we have never had before, and with a deeper understanding of how you work in our lives.
Finally, Lord, I want to thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you that we do not have a high priest who cannot identify with us in our suffering. Thank you that we have a representative before Your Throne who knows how badly pain feels because He has felt it. Thank you that we have an ambassador who knows what betrayal feels like because He has felt it. Thank you for descending to Earth, in bodily form, to live as a man, so that you can know how it feels to be here. Thank you for the hope that offers, because, sometimes, just knowing that someone else has been through what we are going through and they made it, is enough to help us keep going. Thank you for those moments when you allow us to see that we are not as far away from you as we feel. Thank you for those times when you show us just a glimpse of what you working out of us and working into us. Thank you for those times when, we get to see the front of the tapestry of our lives, instead of just the knotted back.
And for those times during the refining process when we do not have to sit in the fire, or have to be banged on, I thank you for rest.
In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen
LIVE: As you go through the rest of your day, pay close attention to thoughts and feelings (similar to or different from those in your prayer time) that arise in relation to events, conversations, and experiences. Tell God about them as they come up, so you’re carrying on an extended dialogue with him all day long.
At the end of the day, take a few moments to remember what happened, in particular what it was like to talk to God throughout the day’s circumstances.