Pondering Job in a Pandemic – Chapter 14

Today marks the halfway point for our four week lockdown here in New Zealand. There are, of course, rumours the lockdown could be extended. There are, of course, calls for it to be lifted early. The one thing, I think, most of us know is that we really have no idea what the next weeks or even months will be like on several levels.

I don’t like uncertainty. I feel the least stress and the most at ease when I have a planned schedule and to-do list and stick to them! 🙂 Our Heavenly Father, in His kind providence, has chosen (among many other more serious things) to place me here, at this time, when much of life is uncertain. It is easier to type that sentence than believe it to be true through another day of uncertainty.

Chapter 14 of Job is the conclusion of Job’s first summary reply to his three “friends”.

It seems to me here, we find Job giving voice to his confusion. Much of what he says here is true, but together these truths seem to be in contradiction to one another.

In verses 1-6, Job is expressing a rather deterministic, fatalistic view of life. He acknowledges that the life of each person is short and full of trouble. He acknowledges this is all determined for him. Yet he sees little hope for this to end well and concludes thinking it would be best if man was just left alone to enjoy whatever he can in this life.

In verses 7-10, Job seems to be saying that, unlike trees which can seem to be dead but can sprout new life, when man dies it is the end. When he is dead it’s over.

Yet, Job doesn’t stop there, verse 11 is a transition from this hopeless view of death to an understanding where Job sees a time when, even after death when God will renew Job, God will call to him and he will answer. Even more this will be a time (vs. 16-17) when Job’s sins will no longer plague him.

However, after this brief glimpse to the future which brings with it some hope, Job returns to a view that lacks hope. He concludes in verses 18-22 with the view that troubles experienced in this life will win and he will be simply left to his sorrows.

Job is full of uncertainty and confusion. His friends have been no help at all. Thus far, God has not granted Job any further insight into what is going on and why these things are happening. As a result, when Job speaks his own thoughts, he sounds confused and unable to make sense of what he is experiencing. Don’t we all!

Firstly, we need to remember that even the most godly of persons, at times of great trouble and significant uncertainty will say things that are a bit all over the show. We need to be patient with one another. Not everything that is said at any given moment needs to be corrected at that moment. If wrong thinking persists and begins to take root then we need to love the person enough to point them to Scripture and correct their thinking.

Secondly, for ourselves we need to recognise and acknowledge our lack of understanding. We need to submit out thoughts to God’s Word, asking God to inform our thinking and form our understanding of Him, ourselves, our experiences, our world with the Truth of Scripture. We cannot reply on our own understanding, in the best of times, let alone during times of confusion and uncertainty.

This has been said before and will likely be said again… We must not waste our lockdown. With any extra time or flexibility we have during these events, we need to make deliberate use of our time feeding ourselves and our families on God’s Word, stretching our understanding of God, His ways, His character, His purposes with other reading and learning.

Finally, as we approach Easter, we have further revelation of truth which Job did not fully understand. Job will comment again later on the hope of a resurrection. What he only alludes to here, in passing, is far more significant than he grasps or is able to understand at the time.

Take a moment to read 1 Corinthians 15 and bask in the hope and glory of Jesus’ resurrection along with the significance of His resurrection for you today and forever!

Soli Deo Gloria

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