There is Promise in Pain (Week Nine)

Originally published Tuesday, 05 September 2017.

Week Nine Study Overview: Today, we look at Job chapters 15-17, cringe at what Eliphaz has to say, cheer as job responds, and step into enlightenment as we examine his prayer for relief.  

Key Point of Struggle: Our key point of struggle is based straight from the mouth of Job: Where then is my hope? As for my hope, who can see it? Job 17:15

Key Proof of Comfort: Proverbs 27:17

  • If you haven’t read Job chapters 15-17, now is a great time.

The more I step into Job’s world, the more disdain I feel for his so-called friends. In Chapter 15, we find Eliphaz on top of his soapbox using a sarcastic tone. He took Job for a liar and a fool. The lack of compassion is unbelievable.

Job may have been covered in boils and dealing with overwhelming loss, but he was not a doormat for these men. In chapter 16, he refuses to suppress his true emotions. Within the ragged, torn mess of everything he felt both physically and emotionally, he draws enough breath to speak wise words of truth. Let’s take a peek at a few of his statements.

“I also could speak as you do, if your soul were in my soul’s place. I could heap up words against you, and shake my head at you; but I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.” – Job 16:4-5

He was floored that these men were accusing him of sins he did not commit. They were staring at a man who had lost everything, right down to his physical appearance, and not one of them was able to offer true comfort. Job couldn’t begin to imagine treating anyone else the way he was being treated. He said, “…the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.”

  • Have you ever experienced true comfort from a friend? If so, how did it help you in the midst of your struggle?
  • Have you felt looked down on by a friend in the midst of sorrow? If so, what do you wish that person knew about your heart? Have you taken that circumstance to God asking him to heal you of your pain?
  • Has dealing with your own grief affected the way you comfort others?

“Surely even now my witness is in heaven and my evidence is on high.” – Job 16:19

There have been times in my life, that through great sorrow, I have examined everything I’ve done. I have wondered if I’ve stepped out of God’s will and somehow caused my own grief. While it is true that sin has consequence, it’s difficult to feel as if you’re dealing with painful consequence while walking upright before the Lord. The enemy wants to manipulate our minds, so it’s important to be aware of God’s mercy and love through tough times. Beyond dealing with your own worries about what is happening around you, it’s even more painful when people with a skewed theology look to place blame regarding the condition of your heart, especially when they have no idea of the details.

Job did not question the position of God. He knew God had answers for his sorrow. This is why he spoke confidently that God was his witness. He knew his Father in heaven was privy to every piece of evidence.

Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.

-Jeremiah 23:23 (ESV)

Whether we like it or not, God knows everything there is to know. Job didn’t need his friends to believe him in order to continue believing in the power of the Almighty. Beyond all this, we have a perspective Job wasn’t able to view: some versions of Job 16:19 say, “Even then my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.” I happen to love that particular translation, because though Job didn’t see the promise of the Messiah fulfilled, we have! We know that Jesus is our advocate! An advocate argues the cause of someone else. Not only does He advocate for us, He calls us friend! (See John 15:15)

“Oh that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleads for his neighbor.”  – Job 16:21

Taking ones needs before the throne of God is the single most powerful and loving thing we can do in friendship. We must pray for one another. This is what Job knew he needed, and let me tell you, it’s a crucial component responsible for the survival of friendship.

Lastly, I want to take a look at Job’s prayer for relief in chapter 17.

Job was weary, so weary. He opens the prayer by saying, “My spirit is broken…” And haven’t we all felt like that at one time or another? This man needed hope in the worst way. I believe hope is built on faith.

Job askes the following two questions in verse 15:

  1. Where then is my hope?
  2. As for my hope, who can see it?

If you are contemplating these questions for your own life, what I really want to say more than anything else is that we don’t have to see hope to own it. I’m going to repeat that one more time because it might take a second to hit home.

We don’t have to see hope to own it.

If we believe in the existence of God, then we believe in the existence of hope. Our God creates possibilities out of impossible, illogical circumstances. The writer of Hebrews tells us…

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

-Hebrews 11:1

So when we ask what Job asked, “Where then is my hope?” there is an answer. It’s in Christ. It lives with Christ Jesus, our living God who is our advocate, and lover of our souls. When we feel like Job felt, wondering where our hope can be seen, we know it is seen in our faith. Hope finds life in our souls when we choose to believe Jesus lived, died, resurrected and ascended. We can own hope. It was given freely to us through the power of the cross.

  • Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” That verse gives comfort because it allows us to be the hands and feet of Christ when others need Him most. Contemplate who you can pray for, speak life to, and minister hope to, despite difficult circumstances. After you pray, do it! Treating others this way not only provides comfort inside our own situations, but it frees us to be who we are meant to become in Christ.
  • In your Bible, please look up Psalm 31:24. Write it in your journal and consider memorizing it. There is power in hiding the Word in your heart!

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