“He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?”
When we get to the point in our personal journey where we can say that we know God is always wise and loving, then we know that we’re graduating to university-level Christianity. There’s one thing about emotional pain and that is this – you can’t fake it for very long. But as the pain grows deeper and yet your faith grows stronger, you can know you are on the right track.
When our Heavenly Father allows failure, abandonment, betrayal, rejection or deep loss and when the pain is so great that life itself loses its meaning. When, frankly, at times life doesn’t seem fair and even perhaps God doesn’t seem fair - it takes an unflinching faith in God’s promises to carry on.
It takes an eternal focus to plow on during times of grief. It takes a sense that heaven is coming and there will be relief someday! The operational word through the entire book of Job is the word faith. Faith in God’s love says that no matter what is thrown at us, we can and somehow will endure.
As we travel the pages of the book of Job we see him encountering many types of adversity, not the least of which are his so-called “friends.” There is a story I heard about two redneck country boys. Billy Joe and his friend Bubba were out in the woods hunting when Billy Joe suddenly grabs his chest, keels over and falls to the ground.
Billy Joe doesn’t seem to be breathing. His tongue is hanging out, and his eyes are rolled back in his head. Bubba frantically whips out his cell phone and calls 911 and yells to the operator, “Help! I think my friend is dead, what do I do?” The operator, in a calm and soothing voice says, “Calm down and take it easy. I can help. First of all, let’s make sure that he’s dead.” There’s silence and then a gunshot is heard. Bubba comes back on and says, “Ok, now what?” With friends like that who needs enemies?!?
No human has ever had the assortment of miseries and terrible things happen in such a short amount of time as the man Job. And yet through it all, he just kept on believing. He had to move through the days of his life much of the time in darkness, but he kept trusting, putting one foot in front of the other. He kept blessing his God despite it all.
We’re now going to move into the eye of the storm. After all that has happened in Job’s life; in his family, finances and health - his “friends” heap coals of fire on him through insensitive remarks. They are going to try and convince him that the reason for his suffering is that there is sin in his life (certainly always a thought worth personal consideration, but these guys just won’t let the thing go)!
Bildad, one of Job’s friends, is hard-nosed, tough and reactionary. He heard Job’s defense and will speak some correct things, however harsh. This is a great example of a person who has some good theology, but bad application. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.” Foolish Bildad opens his mouth and lets it rip.
Studies have shown that the average person spends one-fifth of their life talking. If you were to take the words we say in a single day, it would fill a 50-page book. In a year’s time the average person’s words would fill 132 books, two hundred pages each! With many words, Bildad is going to assert, “You and your family are suffering because…well, I can’t say it any other way, you’re just a bad guy!” “Doth God pervert judgment? Or doth the Almighty pervert justice?” (Job 8:3) Of course it is true that God is just – it does not follow, however, that adversity is always God’s justice being carried out. Tough times are not a guaranteed proof that a person has done something wrong. In Job, chapters 9 and 10, we will find Job’s reply to Bildad and here’s where we pick up some key life lessons on adversity.
No matter how much he was in pain, Job proclaims that he was still convinced that God was wise, loving and powerful. Job pleads, “Yes, I’m hurting and yes I’m having a tough time, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t wise and loving.” “He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?” (Job 9:4) No matter how much pain Job was in, no matter how overwhelming his circumstances were, whenever he had a chance to give God glory he stepped up, forgot his own situation and poured out his praise on his God! Job, in no uncertain terms, tells Bildad, “Do not interpret from my moanings about my difficult situation, that I am calling God bad, I’m just telling you I’m hurting.”
Job concluded that since God is a God of power, wisdom and justice there is reason to trust that same God in times of suffering. Our loving Father God knows the depths of grieving. God has suffered greater loss than anyone ever has. No one has lost more than our Father in heaven. No one has so continuously grieved over the pain of people gone bad; which is certainly worse than losing them to heaven (which is gain). No one has suffered like the One who paid for our sin in the crucified body of His own Son. It is this same God, who in drawing us to Himself, asks us to trust Him when we are suffering. You can trust Him precious friend!