Job 42:1-6 – Then Job answered the Lord and said, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”
I read a book a few years ago that was composed entirely of letters. The story unfolded through short notes and lengthy discourses from each character. Through the letters, I was able to follow the story of their lives. Each person’s correspondence revealed both the actual events as well as their inner thoughts and feelings about each other and what was happening to them. It’s an interesting way to enjoy a story.
The book of Job is similar. We are given a peek into conversations between God and Satan, God and Job, and Job and his four friends. Job’s trials begin when Satan confronts God, accusing Job of being faithful only because he is blessed and protected. God allows Satan to attack Job’s possessions, his family, and his health. We have the insight of the “prequel” to Job’s suffering, and we know why it happened; the author of the book had Spirit-revealed knowledge. But Job suffered in the dark, not understanding why God had apparently turned against him, tearing away the very fabric of his life.
If you want the whole picture, you must read the whole story, and even then, it is difficult to decide whose explanations for this turn of events in Job’s life are to be believed. His four friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu all assume that there must be sin in Job’s life. Defending himself, Job continues to declare his integrity and innocence. In the end, God reveals that Job’s friends got it wrong, but that Job had some things to learn as well.
Like Job, we may face trials and suffering that we simply do not understand. We spend our lives living as faithfully as we possibly can. We give to the poor. We defend the weak and afflicted. We speak truth and wisdom. We keep our hearts pure and live with integrity. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, we face indescribable, distressing and heartbreaking events. We lose our health. We lose our loved ones. We lose our reputation. And when we cry out like Job, asking God to give a reason for our pain, we find Him silent and are left with the platitudes and assumptions of well-meaning friends.
In those times, we can pray like Job. He demonstrates an intimacy and connection with God that allowed him to be open, vulnerable and truthful with his Father. He held nothing back. He expressed his pain and his confusion, trusting that God was able to handle it. But there was a maturity and wisdom in his prayers throughout the book, seen in three truths that help us keep a proper perspective in our prayers while suffering.
Job had an enduring faith in the midst of his questioning.
Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him. (13:15)
Job had an eternal perspective as he faced his own mortality.
As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me! (19:25-27)
Job had an expectant humility as he waited for God to act.
Then Job answered the Lord and said, “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; even twice, and I will add nothing more.” (40:3-5)
Job teaches us that it is not wrong to wrestle with God in prayer. It is in the wrestling we may truly come to see Him as sovereign and wise. We then realize that though we may be faithful followers, God has more to do in our hearts and lives. Let us not be afraid to be honest with God, but in our honesty, we must remember that He is our Creator and our Lord. He has all authority and right to do with us as He desires, and in the end, we will see His glory.