I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND
Father God, your love for me is clearly seen in sending Jesus. Today I surrender to your voice and call.
Read JOB 21
21 Then Job replied:
2 “Listen carefully to my words;
let this be the consolation you give me.
3 Bear with me while I speak,
and after I have spoken, mock on.
4 “Is my complaint directed to a human being?
Why should I not be impatient?
5 Look at me and be appalled;
clap your hand over your mouth.
6 When I think about this, I am terrified;
trembling seizes my body.
7 Why do the wicked live on,
growing old and increasing in power?
8 They see their children established around them,
their offspring before their eyes.
9 Their homes are safe and free from fear;
the rod of God is not on them.
10 Their bulls never fail to breed;
their cows calve and do not miscarry.
11 They send forth their children as a flock;
their little ones dance about.
12 They sing to the music of timbrel and lyre;
they make merry to the sound of the pipe.
13 They spend their years in prosperity
and go down to the grave in peace.[a]
14 Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone!
We have no desire to know your ways.
15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
What would we gain by praying to him?’
16 But their prosperity is not in their own hands,
so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.
17 “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out?
How often does calamity come upon them,
the fate God allots in his anger?
18 How often are they like straw before the wind,
like chaff swept away by a gale?
19 It is said, ‘God stores up the punishment of the wicked for their children.’
Let him repay the wicked, so that they themselves will experience it!
20 Let their own eyes see their destruction;
let them drink the cup of the wrath of the Almighty.
21 For what do they care about the families they leave behind
when their allotted months come to an end?
22 “Can anyone teach knowledge to God,
since he judges even the highest?
23 One person dies in full vigor,
completely secure and at ease,
24 well nourished in body,[b]
bones rich with marrow.
25 Another dies in bitterness of soul,
never having enjoyed anything good.
26 Side by side they lie in the dust,
and worms cover them both.
27 “I know full well what you are thinking,
the schemes by which you would wrong me.
28 You say, ‘Where now is the house of the great,
the tents where the wicked lived?’
29 Have you never questioned those who travel?
Have you paid no regard to their accounts—
30 that the wicked are spared from the day of calamity,
that they are delivered from[c] the day of wrath?
31 Who denounces their conduct to their face?
Who repays them for what they have done?
32 They are carried to the grave,
and watch is kept over their tombs.
33 The soil in the valley is sweet to them;
everyone follows after them,
and a countless throng goes[d] before them.
34 “So how can you console me with your nonsense?
Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!”
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‘All of God’s promises have their yes in him [Jesus]’ (see 2 Corinthians 1:20a, CEB). The answer really is Jesus. Focus on him for a few moments.
The argument escalates, and perspective is the loser. Chapter 20 saw Zophar set out his extreme view of the doom of the wicked. Job pushes back with an equally extreme account of those who live in prosperity and peace (v 13), telling God where to get off (v 14). He moderates that somewhat in stating, ‘their prosperity is not in their own hands’, he has no truck with them, and that ultimately death is a leveler (vs 16,21–26). Job’s rant is against the gulf between the way the world works and the neat, ordered package his friends present. It is unfair and begs the question, does it make any difference if you are good or bad?
In attempting to console people in distress we can end up speaking platitudes (v 34). Like saying, ‘He’s in a better place now.’ to the mother who has lost her disabled son. Unsatisfactory answers add to people’s grief. Job asks, ‘Can anyone teach knowledge to God?’ (v 22), not meaning that we are fatalistic and silenced. God wants us to engage with him. The issue is ‘where we turn when suffering strikes. There are only two choices: we either turn toward God or away from him. Job is one who models turning to God, first in submission.’*
What is the best thing you can do for a friend who is suffering?
Sovereign Lord, you know my future as well as my past. Help me resolve the hurts and resentments of the past and avoid such places yet to come.
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