What does it say?
Job is frustrated that his accusers are not really listening to him (Job 21). He steadfastly denies their charges and clings to his original position that there is no hidden sin in life responsible for his loss.
Eliphaz counters that Job’s wickedness must be great indeed. He offers Job some advice that is actually pretty good (22:21-30), but it simply does not apply to Job’s situation. This is another example of truth misapplied.
Job would love to simply sit down with God and understand why all this has come upon him (23:1-9). Despite God’s silence, Job is convinced God will use this trial for good (23:10). He reaffirms his devotion and obedience to God’s words (23:11-12). I think Job’s words in 23:15-17 are a key to understanding this passage and the entire book.
What does it mean?
Some suggest that God is using this trial to bring Job to a deeper understanding of what it means to be in awe of God. There is no question of Job’s righteousness. Even God speaks of him in the highest regard (1:8). But, no matter our level of maturity, there is always room to continue our personal growth. This is why 23:15-17 offers great insight. Through the accusations and darkness, Job seems to fear God more than he fears his attackers, and refuses to allow the darkness to overcome his faith.
The Bible is God’s story of redemption and restoration, activated by the suffering of Jesus Christ in his death, burial and resurrection. Scripture is clear that we who follow him will also suffer as part of his mission. Job models missional suffering. In the depth of his suffering, look closely and you’ll see the Savior in the shadows, who will suffer far more to deal with the issue of human sin.
How will I respond?
Am I aware of the missional nature of suffering in my life? What has been my greatest trial? If that trial is past, what have I learned and how have I grown? If currently in a time of intense trial, does understanding the missional nature of suffering from Job’s example give me hope and light at the end of the dark tunnel?
What might I do today in light of past suffering? Is there someone to encourage or to pray for more specifically? Where are people suffering today? War, natural disaster or disease? Or, are there people suffering near me at school, work or where I live? How might suffering be used to advance God’s mission instead of just being wasted? What role might God possibly have for me?