Job 4-7, Psalm 136
We all have a vision at different ages of what we think our lives should look like. Under 20 you want to be accepted and popular with your friends and excel in activities and school. Next you want that perfect job, that perfect spouse, and those perfect children. Much later you want that perfect retirement and a disease free life. Lastly, when it is time to die, you want it to be pain free and in your sleep. The problem is that what we want and what happens is two entirely different things. When things don't go as we expect do we or others spend all of our time asking God, why? Why can't I do better in school? Why can't I find a spouse? Why won't God give us children? Why did God allow me get this terrible or painful disease? Rather than asking why questions of God, which only He knows, we would do better to ask the what now questions. If you are not great in academics, what is God calling you to do? If there is no spouse, what is it that God is calling you in your singleness to do? If there are no children, what does God have in store for you as a childless couple? If sick or in pain, there must be a reason why you are still alive, so what are you going to do to glorify God in your illness?
As we enter the section of Job which highlights the debate which takes place between Job and his friends, the focus especially from his friends, but also from Job centers on the why of his suffering. Rather than comforting Job, as they did for the first seven days (Job 2:11-13), they take turns telling Job why he is suffering becoming increasingly hostile as the dialogue progresses. Notice the reasoning of Eliphaz in Job 4:4-7, "Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, And you have strengthened the feeble knees; But now it comes upon you, and you are weary; It touches you, and you are troubled. Is not your reverence your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope? Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?" Here he accuses Job of being arrogant and self-righteous, not coming clean concerning his sin, due to Eliphaz's false conclusion that the truly righteous don't suffer. How then would Eliphaz explain the death of Abel at the hands of Cain in Genesis 4? For any who feel that way now, how about Stephen, the apostles, and most importantly our sinless Lamb, Jesus Christ. Job in his pain and suffering also begins to ask God why in Job 7:20, "Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, So that I am a burden to myself?"
There is nothing wrong when in the valleys of life if we examine our own lives to assess whether there is any unconfessed sin which needs to be addressed. One of the great promises in Scripture is found in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Having done this, may we remember the words in James 1:2-4, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." We may never understand this side of eternity why the dreams of what we think we need to have a happy life go unanswered. But we need to remember that God calls both the academically gifted and those not as gifted in this realm, both those married and single, both those with children and those without, and both those in good health and those who have various illnesses. The answer is not why but as Isaiah said in Isaiah 6:8, "Here am I! Send me."
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: