Pondering Job in a Pandemic – Chapter 3

Ok, we’re actually starting this morning with chapter 2 verse 11.

Job’s friends generally get a bad wrap when people comment on the book of Job. Yet, if there was anytime when they got things right it was here – when they sat with him on the ground and no one spoke a word!

When someone is experiencing a trail or trauma, especially unlike anything they have experienced before, it can take some time before they are able to put their thoughts into words. The problem with most of us is, we don’t handle silence very well. So when the person we are seeking to help or encourage isn’t saying much, we fill up the space with the sound of our own voice. This is often unhelpful.

Job’s friends came to him in his suffering. They sat with him in his suffering. They waited for him in his suffering. In these weeks of lockdown we are going to have to think outside the box in order to find ways to “go to one another”. We will need to use the phone or some form of online technology. We will also need to work at being good listeners and waiting for people to open up and share their thoughts, fears and concerns. We won’t be able to sit for seven days and wait, so this will likely involve multiple points of contact over the next few weeks.

Job’s first lament in chapter 3 is shocking… All of Job’s speeches must be read in hight of what has been said about Job in chapter 1 and 2. We are told in chapter 2 that Job did not “sin with his lips.” We are told in chapter 1 that Job did not “sin or charge God with wrong.” I would suggest the statement in chapter 2 should be read in light of the statement in chapter 1 as should everything else Job says in the book.

We are not told, Job never sins or never sins in anything he says. He never sins in the particular way of charging God with wrong. In 42:1-6, Job confesses sin of speech and God accepts Job’s repentance. With that in mind it is significant that Job does not charge God with wrong in this, his first lament. However, is everything he says here a correct thing to say when we are suffering?

“The answer is to be found in that Job’s cursing of the day on which he was born is an implicit questioning of divine wisdom (chap. 3). Scripture leaves room for us to ask why God does certain things, provided that we do not demand an answer as if the Lord is obligated to explain all of His ways to us. But it is a fine line indeed between asking why our Creator does what He does and calling His wisdom into question because we do not understand—or agree with—His actions. The author of Psalm 10, for example, asks God why He has stood afar off (vv. 1–2), but it turns out that he never actually charges the Lord with not caring for him, for he is confident at the end of the psalm that he will be rescued (vv. 16–18). Job, on the other hand, has to be brought to his knees. He never actually charges God directly with wrongdoing, but in saying, essentially, that it would have been better if he had never been born, Job calls into question God’s wisdom in overseeing the created order.” (Quote from Ligonier Devotional)

In the midst of the trails ahead, we must look to Christ and see that our Heavenly Father has a good and purposeful plan in all of His doings. Even the most tragic event in all of history – the murder of Jesus – came about in the fulness of time according to God’s perfect will, to accomplish His perfect plan – the salvation of His people.

When we ask “why”, let it be from a heart of humble, submissive trust and may we continue to trust God even when He doesn’t answer our question. Let us not charge God with wrong or question His wisdom and goodness – and when we do, let us be like Job and repent.

Soli Deo Gloria

Items to focus your faith: