Gracious Lord, you made me, sustain me, and in your love you reach out to help me. I long to hear your voice.
Read Job 16:22 – 17:16
“Only a few years will pass
before I take the path of no return.
17 1 My spirit is broken,
my days are cut short,
the grave awaits me.
2 Surely mockers surround me;
my eyes must dwell on their hostility.
3 “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand.
Who else will put up security for me?
4 You have closed their minds to understanding;
therefore you will not let them triumph.
5 If anyone denounces their friends for reward,
the eyes of their children will fail.
6 “God has made me a byword to everyone,
a man in whose face people spit.
7 My eyes have grown dim with grief;
my whole frame is but a shadow.
8 The upright are appalled at this;
the innocent are aroused against the ungodly.
9 Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways,
and those with clean hands will grow stronger.
10 “But come on, all of you, try again!
I will not find a wise man among you.
11 My days have passed, my plans are shattered.
Yet the desires of my heart
12 turn night into day;
in the face of the darkness light is near.
13 If the only home I hope for is the grave,
if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness,
14 if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’
and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’
15 where then is my hope—
who can see any hope for me?
16 Will it go down to the gates of death?
Will we descend together into the dust?”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect‘Judge not the Lord by feeble sense but trust him for his grace’ (William Cowper, (1731–1800).* Express that trust now.
Reading Job is like watching a film or reading a book about experiences in concentration camps, or a catastrophe like the Chernobyl reactor explosion. It leaves one wanting less, and longing for intervention. We find ourselves here, flung into yet another downward spiral in Job’s life, summarized in the heartrending: ‘my days have passed, my plans are shattered’ (v 11) and ‘who can see any hope for me?’ (v15). Our longing for this to end possibly shows our reluctance to face reality and our desire for simple solutions. Thankfully, this is nothing like everyday reality for most of us, although for some believers around the world who are suffering unjustly for their faith, it must feel close to it.
Job’s ordeal drags on without resolution or explanation. Verses 9 and 10 on the face of it seem a more positive statement. But commentators suggest that Job is mocking the easy answers of his friends who stick with the idea that if you remain righteous, the only way is up. Which is not Job’s experience. He is in the right, but is suffering as if he were in the wrong. ‘Dark night of the soul’ hardly begins to describe his torment. And still it goes on.
How do we live without answers to our failed plans and unfulfilled desires? We have more answers than Job, but not all that we would like. What do we do? ‘Trust him for his grace’?
Gentle Shepherd, at times I find myself facing ambiguities and the trials of life. Comfort and guide me with your presence and grace.
*’God Moves in a Mysterious Way,’ William Cowper 1744