Job 15-16 B

I was living quietly until he shattered me. He took me by the neck and broke me in pieces. Then he set me up as his target, and now his archers surround me. His arrows pierce me without mercy. The ground is wet with my blood.” 16:12

I’m so uncomfortable with the book of Job. It unravels my normal studying of the Bible (probably not ideal reading this two chapters at a time, by the way) while tangling up my understanding of God. From human perspective, what Job said above is true. He was living quietly until God shattered his life. You can’t take the book of Job and apply the verses to your own life. It’s not literal, and it’s not even relatable. Or is it?

Lots of people could cry out these accusations. Claiming God has torn apart their lives. Their marriages dissolving, their bodies ravaged by cancer or their abusers relentlessly hurting them.

“I need someone to mediate between God and me, as a person mediates between friends.” 16:21

For now, I’ll read this verse and be thankful I’m on the other side of history, when Jesus has come and gone. We have that mediator, who steps in and advocates for our humanity. I wonder if he voices just how hard it is to be in relationship with people when your own personality gets in the way. Or what it’s like for your flesh to feel sick or bones to be broken. I wonder if he comes to our defense when we act out of fear or insecurity.

It’s weird, isn’t it? Imagining this dynamic of human suffering, God’s role and Jesus’ place? I can’t begin to understand it, but I’m thankful the book of Job is in the Bible. For me, it brings up more questions than it provides answers. But it also reminds me of a truth I’m always trying to escape: being loved by God does not excuse you from pain or suffering. There are millions of layers to that sentence, but even embracing that one line is hard for me. I want to avoid the pain, the hardship, the discomfort, the mourning and the sorrow. Being that way creates so much gratefulness for Jesus. He embraces our suffering, stepping into our humanity willingly.

Where have you experienced God’s presence in your suffering?

And, something that is an interesting ride to climb on, when have you felt like God created suffering in your life? How did things unfold?

-Carly

Job 13-14 B

“Behold, my eye has seen all this, My ear has heard and understood it. What you know I also know; I am not inferior to you… Will you speak what is unjust for God, And speak what is deceitful for Him? Will you show partiality for Him? Will you contend for God?” (13:1-2, 7-8‬)

Isn’t it frustrating when a peer proceeds to teach you something like they’re older and wiser? Isn’t it worse when they go so far as the speak for God?

There is certainly a time and place for peer accountability. It’s also of good practice to point each other to remembering the LORD. But in everything—HUMILITY.

I’ve got to watch myself when I get annoyed with a friend. I can’t come at them like I’m the only one who knows anything. Don’t discount another person’s life, perspective and history with the LORD.

Just because Job is in the pit of despair, his friends suddenly feel superior to him. What they don’t know, is that they aren’t so big as to be a topic of conversation in the heavens.

For whatever reason, our human nature loves to measure each other against ourselves. We like to compare to know if we are better or worse than others. That is not the designs of God for us.

How do we respond when we see someone in the midst of humiliation? Do we jump at the chance to feel above them? The reason we are told over and over not to judge each other is because we are so very lacking in information. We don’t know anyone’s full story, or what is going on at a spiritual level. The duty of judging belongs entirely to the LORD.

Let’s all bring our judgy-ness to the LORD today; treading ever so delicately when it comes to speaking on HIS behalf.

-Bethany

Job 11-12 B

“Just ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you.”

We’re right in the push and pull that someone experiences when trying to understand God’s sovereignty. Understanding that the Lord has power over everything only leads to more misunderstanding of why he allows so much pain. I liked when Job motioned to the animals; even they know the unarguable greatness of God!

The fact that at this point, Job is even engaging with God is promising. After all that he’s been through, and all that he’s lost, he still pushes back on God and grapples with who he is and what he’s done. Honestly, I’m more comfortable when people are actively fighting God on something than when they’ve completely shut him out. Disengaged. It’s like that with any relationship, right? When you stop fighting, it usually means you’ve stopped caring.

It’s okay to fight God for answers on your circumstances. Sometimes just recognizing the complexity of his sovereignty is helpful in my faith towards him. Sometimes it hinders it. But either way, I’m engaging with him.

-Carly

Job 9-10 B

“If I called and He answered me, I could not believe that He was listening to my voice.” (9:16‬)

Yes, Job, this is unfathomable. When considering the vast greatness of the LORD, and the lowly, microscopic nature of man by contrast–why would He ever notice? How could He?

I’m imagining the view from an airplane. From just 30,000 feet up, it’s impossible to spot a person. Spatially, it seems the LORD would have to live somewhere in outer-space, because of how big He is. That would make us very hard to see and hear, indeed. But His bigness fills the earth. He is everywhere. Somehow He is both as grand as Job says, and willing to answer our prayers.

It’s hard to hold the infinite and intimate nature of God in our minds at the same time, but they’re both true.

Let’s praise Him for this as we meditate on its truth today.

-Bethany

Job 7-8 B

“I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.” 7:16

It’s weird imagining mankind writhing in pain and suffering while God towers over us, uninvolved. That’s what it feels like here, doesn’t it? If you’ve ever experienced tragedy, you’ve felt like Job. You want to lay on the couch all day and can’t do anything but toss and turn all night.

It’s hard to just, grieve. To allow yourself to mourn something and embrace the loss. We actually do just about everything we can to avoid it, don’t we? We distract.

Facing a loss is the first and most important step. What’s something you just can’t sit with?

Maybe it’s not a tragedy like Job’s, but more a change of life. Your children left the home, or age is catching up with you. Maybe a relationship is finally over or your health is permanently changed.

What’s different about our suffering and Job’s is we have someone sitting in the ashes with us. The Holy Spirit is so tangible and warm. Even when it’s lonely, dark and cold. Reach for him!

-Carly

Job 5-6 B

“For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, for a man is born to trouble, as sparks fly upward.” (5:6-7)

Sometimes when adversity rears it’s ugly head, we wonder where it “came from”, as if the world was perfect up until that moment.

The world hasn’t been perfect for a long time. In some ways, it can be incredibly and beautifully predictable: There’s always a winter, spring, summer and fall every twelve months, water will turn solid at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and other such observable sciences. In other ways, it surprises us: hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.

But nothing is more surprising than the wills and ways of mankind. We are the wildcard; the inconsistent variable.

I love the imagery of the chaotic troubles of man illustrated by the observable science of sparks. Watching a fire is mesmerizing, but nothing snaps you out of a trance like an upward flying spark when it leaps in your direction.

We are our own worst nightmares, our greatest threats. Yet we are somehow still surprised by suffering. It still feels out of place when it touches us.

Still, this isn’t the answer for Job. His circumstance is unique. It’s only natural that the first attempt of a friend to make sense of all this, is to point to the science: this is our tendency–trouble. It’s a good first guess. And maybe, for us, when we are surveying our pain, it’s still a good idea to check ourselves first.

The answer might be no, but the question must be asked, “did I bring this upon myself?”

Whether it’s our fault or not, we must always have the humility to readily check ourselves.

Are there any troubles in your life right now that you need to ask this question about? If the answer is yes–do the work to set things right. Restore, with the wisdom of God. Ask Him what to do.

If the answer is no–stay tuned. There are more questions to be asked on our way to getting to the bottom of suffering.

-Bethany

Job 3-4 B

We have a returning guest writer today! Tiffany Jensen is sharing her response from today’s chapters:

This past year and a half has been full of disappointment and heartache for my husband and I. Even though most of our trials have not been quite as extreme as Job’s, I find myself agreeing with him when he says “why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” (Job 3:23). But like Job, I had friends that came to my side with encouragement. I don’t know much about Eliphaz who tries to speak encouragement to Job; or about their relationship. However, I can picture him wanting to comfort someone he cares about. It’s brilliant how he starts out. 

“If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? Yet who can keep from speaking? Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees.” Job 4:2-4

The first thing Eliphaz does is acknowledge the validity of Job’s despair then he encourages him. I love how he points out that Job has always been there for those around him and now it’s time for him to let other people strengthen him. I’m sure when Job was pouring into other people’s lives he never thought about it coming back around when he most needed it. This part of Job’s story makes me so grateful for the ways God provides. Especially when that provision comes through community. There’s nothing better than a friend calling or stopping by when you’re having a rough day, or a rough year. 

Is there someone God has been laying on your heart? I urge you to call or drop in on that person. Live in the community God so beautifully designed for us.

-Tiffany


Thank you, Tiff!

 

-Carly