Originally published Tuesday, 29 August 2017.
Week Eight Study Overview: Today we will pull out some key points of Job’s defense when his third friend Zophar speaks.
Key Point of Struggle: How can I live according to Job 13:15 and truly mean it?
Key Proof of Comfort: Exodus 3:14
Suffering of any kind shines a bright spotlight on the heart. It makes us vulnerable and forces an outpouring of emotion in ways we could have never imagined. We become painfully aware of not only our spiritual condition, but also our human condition.
Recently, I’ve been wishing more than ever I could just go back and change some things. The problem is I live in the confines of time. Time seems like an enemy these days. I go over and over words I said or wish I had said. I’m trying to figure out how I could have changed certain circumstances all the while knowing, deep down, there was nothing I could have done to manipulate the outcome. The hardest part of serving Christ is complete submission to His will, His way, and His time.
The comfort in all this is that He Himself is not bound by time, space, or anything else. Though we must submit to God, He submits to no one. This means there is always hope. We can hope in the impossible, because we serve a God of the impossible. He knows all things, can be everywhere at once, and loves us in a way we will never begin to fathom. He isn’t bound by our definitions or practices. I recall He once said to Moses, “I AM Who I Am.” (See Exodus 3:14) In all my life those words have never meant as much to me as they do right now.
Making space in my head to go back and change things only opens up my mind to overthinking. Overthinking often results in working to enforce head knowledge while eliminating heart knowledge. The mind can be a dangerous place if often left to wonder.
Job’s friends were known for trying to reason, rationalize, and overthink their friend’s situation. They could think of nothing else, so they blamed Job by telling him he must have sinned. Zophar follows the same pattern as his other friends when he urges Job to repent. This is when we see Job’s personality come out in full force. He would not allow his righteousness to be overlooked. Enough was enough.
- If you’ve not read Job chapters 11-14, now would be a great time.
In the midst of his awful judgment, there was one wise question Zophar asked. He meant it strategically in an attempt to prove his point, which was ridiculous, but we can learn from it. The answer to his question is one we all must come to terms with.
“Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?”
The answer is no. It doesn’t matter how much we think about it, study the situation, or even pray. There are some things we are not meant to know. Please don’t misunderstand me. God reveals much of Himself to those who seek Him with an upright heart. However, there will always be deeper wells of who He is that is not meant for us to understand. This is where trust has to dominate.
I love Job’s responses to his friends throughout their arrogant assessments of his situation. He points out, more than once, that he is not inferior to them. You go, Job! I love it! But it’s not really his fight to defend his righteousness that should stir us. It’s what comes next that gives us potential to find promise inside pain.
Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him, even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.
Job’s issue was between himself and God. Judgment from his friends proved inappropriate and quite ugly. What we can learn from Job is that he made a decision, and that decision meant trust in a God he did not understand but knew held control of all things. He was not afraid to place himself before the throne refusing to move. God welcomes us there.
These days, I find myself before the throne quite often. With boldness I make my petitions known. And, if I’m going to be honest, I ask a whole lot of questions in the midst of my pleas.
Later on in Job 13, Job asks a beautiful question in the middle of a despondent prayer…
How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin.
Regardless of what is going on in our hearts and lives, we must always check ourselves. There are times we might be wrong and not even realize it until we ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Job was wise in double checking. The apostle Paul often tells us throughout the New Testament to examine ourselves. We have to be proactive in keeping ourselves pure from sin. The enemy is sneaky, and he will use every opportunity, especially grief, to turn us wayward.
- This week in your journal, write Job 13:15 and 13:23. Write a prayer underneath each. Within yourself, concentrate on asking the Lord to help you continue trusting even when it feels like everything is going wrong. Also, ask Him to help you examine yourself so that you might have clean hands and a pure heart before Him.
- To prepare for next week, please read Job chapters 15-17
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