Miles to go...

I have miles to go... please pray each day for the next leg of my Biblical journey!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Day 38: God, I Just Want To Die!

Job 29:1-10

New Living Translation (NLT)
Leroy Allen Skalstad, Public Domain

Job Speaks of His Former Blessings

29 Job continued speaking:
“I long for the years gone by
    when God took care of me,
when he lit up the way before me
    and I walked safely through the darkness.
When I was in my prime,
    God’s friendship was felt in my home.
The Almighty was still with me,
    and my children were around me.
My cows produced milk in abundance,
    and my groves poured out streams of olive oil.
“Those were the days when I went to the city gate
    and took my place among the honored leaders.
The young stepped aside when they saw me,
    and even the aged rose in respect at my coming.
The princes stood in silence
    and put their hands over their mouths.
10 The highest officials of the city stood quietly,
    holding their tongues in respect.


Job is beginning to sink into a very deep depression here. This was a man who had once been more than just wealthy; He had been highly respected! He was a man of action, a man of honor, a man who took up the cause of those less fortunate. Those who needed help could count on him coming to their aid. He helped orphans, and widows, he paid for medical treatment for people who were blind or lame. He provided clothing and blankets on cold winter nights to anyone who couldn't stay warm. And he wasn't afraid to jump in and physically defend someone who was getting bullied. He was admired and respected. Everybody loved to see him come, and nobody wanted to see him leave. People sought his advice because he always had words of wisdom and encouragement. Young and old, everybody loved Job.

What a difference a few months make. He had become old way beyond his years. Even though he was still probably in his 40's, he struggled to get around like a man twice that age. He couldn't go into town now without the adults turning the other way, pretending not to see him, and the young people pointing fingers and making fun of him. Now Job had lost so much weight that his skin looked like it was stretched tight over his skeleton. He was so covered with oozing sores that people were afraid to look at him. His breath was so putrid from the toxins that raged through his body that his wife was repulsed. His servants were afraid to come near him. They'd pretend they hadn't heard him ask for a blanket, or some broth, or whatever else might relieve some of his discomfort. Even in his own home, he had to beg for any kind of help.

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry, You raised me up again
But my strength is almost gone
How can I carry on if I can't find You
(From the song I Will Praise You In This Storm) 

Maybe he would have enjoyed the company of his three friends, if they'd been nice. I think they tried. They just really didn't know what to say. They'd always known Job to be an upright man, but why would God allow all this to happen to someone who didn't deserve it? They were afraid that if they sided with him, God would find them guilty by association. So after 7 days of sitting around the house with him, saying nothing, Job finally broke the silence and said what had been burning in his mind for days. 

Face it, he whined a little. But who can blame him? I'd be doing a lot more than whining if I was in his shoes. But his friends didn't know quite how to respond! It would have been kinder had they just not.

This is a very abbreviated example of the conversations that took place. 

Job: Oh, how I wish I'd never been born. I wish that God would blot my birthday off the calendar so that the day would never be counted again. I can't stand this pain! I can't eat, I can't sleep, I can barely even breathe. I wish I would just die already.

Eliphaz: Hey, you used to be the one to make everyone else feel better when they were down on their luck. And now the moment things go wrong for you, you're ready to give up! Think for a minute. Innocent people don't die. In my experience, it's only those that plant trouble who harvest it. If I were you, I'd beg God's forgiveness and then accept His discipline without complaint. Then he would forgive you and restore your health, he'd give you a new family, and you'd live to be an old man!

Job: Oh give me a break. Walk a mile in my sandals and tell me you wouldn't have been complaining a lot sooner! I have a right to express my grief! I've lost my family, my health, and am close to losing my life! And all you can do is sit there and act like I don't know the difference between right and wrong, and assume that I have somehow brought all this on myself? You think that I'm guilty of something that needs forgiveness? I might be whining a bit, but I've never once denied God. I just don't have the strength to endure any more. I have nothing left to live for.

Bildad: Oh good grief, man, will you listen to yourself? God doesn't twist justice, ya know. Look. God won't reject a man of integrity. Whatever you've done wrong, repent and be done with it so that you can be happy again.

Job: (addressing God) God, you know me inside out! You have known me since before I was born! Why are you torturing me like this? Please, just let me die already!

Zophar: Wow, Job, you sure talk a good game. But it doesn't matter how long you babble about your innocence, you're not going to convince any of us that God is doing all this for nothing. It's pretty obvious that you're being punished far less than what you deserve! Prepare your heart, man! Lift up your hands to him in prayer and get rid of all that sin you're trying so hard to hide!

Job: Arrrgh! You guys just think you know everything! It's so easy to sit there feeling all smug because you're not me, and kick me while I'm down, isn't it? You'd all make lousy shrinks. You should all just shut your mouths instead of accusing me and saying these lies. You think that if you can pin the blame on me, you'll earn brownie points with God, don't you? What do you think God's going to do when He starts paying attention to this? You're going to be in a world of trouble. Now shut up and leave me alone, I want to tell God exactly how I feel, and if He strikes me dead for daring to say it, so be it. But at least I know that I'm still His child, and that gives me the right to go before Him.

Job: (addressing God) God! Why have you turned on me? If I've done something wrong, show me! If you don't want to show me, then at least just ignore me until you get over whatever is making you so angry. But would you pencil in a day on your calendar to be nice to me? I long for the relationship we used to have, God! But you hate me, and you seem to be taking pleasure in hurting me!

Eliphaz: Oh, dude, you are way out of line! Have you no fear? How disrespectful can you be? Your own mouth condemns you!

Job: If the table was turned, I'd be trying to encourage you and ease some of your grief. You just can't do that, can you? If I suffer in silence, you criticize me. If I try to defend myself, you accuse me. I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't.  God hates me, and you can't even be bothered to intercede and pray for me.

Bildad: You're not even making sense anymore, Job. It's getting tiresome listening to you complain. 

Job: Even if I have sinned, it's none of your business! How dare you sit there on your high horse saying it's my own fault! You should fear punishment yourself, because your attitude sucks! Then maybe you'll have an idea what judgment is. Anyway, my complaint is with God. I want to know why it is that wicked people never get what's coming to them. When I was wealthy, I used it for His glory, and look at me now! I'm young still, but I'm pathetic! Other people grow rich and think they are self-made men and don't give God a passing thought. How come they get to grow old and watch their grandchildren playing at their feet, while I don't even get to have grandchildren?

Eliphaz: Ok, I know what your sin is now! It's a lust for money! You idolize the almighty dollar! Quit longing for what you had, and submit yourself to God. Turn back to Him and you will be restored.

And so it went. I don't know why Job considered these guys his friends. They sure were rotten ones. I wouldn't want them on my cheering squad, that's for sure. 

I was slightly amused though, to see that even back then, if someone expressed their frustration to God, others saw it as disrespect. I can't count how many times I've yelled at God. The way I see it, He knows exactly what's in my heart, He hears every unspoken word. So isn't it more a sin to try to pretend you weren't thinking it, than to just say it out loud? In any case, it works for me. God lets me express myself, and then when my tantrum has run its course and I'm quieted down, He speaks. And I listen That's when He knows He has my attention. It is a true Father/child relationship. I think I'm a lot like Job.

But there was still one more guy hanging around Job's living room. So far, Elihu had kept quiet. But when I conclude my narrative about Job tomorrow, I'll fill you in on what he said, and then we'll get to the most important part of the story; God's response.

No comments:

Post a Comment