What does it say?
Can you remember the pain of being falsely accused? Job continues responding to Bildad, his denials becoming more vehement. As Job catches his breath, Job’s third friend Zophar enters the discussion, his words rising to match the passion of Job’s.
Steadfastly Job refuses to confess a non-existent, specific sin. The repetitive nature of the same accusations in different words from different speakers followed by Job’s consistent position of innocence can be tedious. Job never denies his sin nature, but that no specific sin accounts for his suffering. Chapter 13 is a climatic moment in this drama. The gravity of 13:15-21 and the desperate cry to God for answers in 13:22-28 astound me.
What does it mean?
I am on a mission. I will suffer. Even those I love will wrongfully accuse me. I will suffer. My relationship with God is based on his promises (Gen 9), and one of his promises is that I will in some way suffer (Acts 14:22; 2Tim 3:12).
God has confidence that Job can handle everything Satan throws at him (1:8). Perhaps Paul mediates on this when he says (1Cor 10:13) that God will never allow us to be tempted more than we can handle. Paul suffered much, and learns to fear God, not suffering. So does Job. They both learn to turn loose of questions that have no human answers. Will I?
In God’s missional story, the very first Bible book written is about a man who suffered more than I can imagine. Beyond teaching suffering as a concept, here is a window into this man’s soul filled with raw emotions and white-hot pain. Separated by millennia, I instantly identify with him. He gets no answers; he never knows why. Though difficult, I must learn to not fear suffering beyond my control, but to embrace it, letting God accomplish his purposes. I don’t have to know all the answers if I trust the loving God to never allow me to endure more than I can bear.
How will I respond?
Reflecting on suffering in my life, how much is because of my sin? How much is beyond my control? In either case, if I could list three specific lessons to be learned from my suffering, what would they be? For example, Jesus learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8-9), not that he had been disobedient previously, but that his suffering grew him to full maturity in God’s plan.
I may never know the reason for everything that happens in my life, but I do know the mission. Who that I know is suffering and what might equip me to be a channel of God’s love and grace?