“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me.” Job 19:25-27 (NIV)
There have been seasons of long struggles in my life when heartache piled on heartache and problems seemed insurmountable. In the span of two short years my beloved grandmother died, a freak accident took the life of a best friend, and I miscarried our baby boy at 20 weeks. We moved to a different state with three young daughters, discovering when we arrived that we had no place to live; we had leased a house that the owner sold without telling us. My husband lost his job, and I was battling depression. I often felt like there would never be an end to our suffering.
I get why Job’s despair was so deep, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we have all had seasons that help us relate to his pain. His struggles continue and intensify in the passages we read this week in Job 10-19. The increasingly brutal accusations from his three friends compounds Job’s grief and physical pain. He plunges into despair, feeling that only in death will he escape his torment. Yet, in all this, Job recognizes God’s Omniscience, His Justice, and His Redemption. I love Job’s honesty about his suffering, and I love Job’s indefatigable faith. Job knows there will be victory, even when he feels defeated. God’s Omniscience in these chapters encouraged me this week. Here are my insights:
A Limitation to Suffering – God’s Omniscience (Job 10-14):
Job had absolute faith in God’s perfect qualities, in His sovereignty, His goodness, and His Providence. Job knew God as his Creator, the One whose hands molded him like clay, who gave him life, showed him kindness, and watched over his spirit. Job was confident that in His Omniscience, God knew that he was not guilty, but he also knew that God was providentially allowing him to suffer. In Chapter 12, Job voices his confidence: “To God belongs wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; the man he imprisons cannot be released” (Job 12:13-14). He follows this by a strong declaration of his faith, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;” (Job 13:15). Job’s intimate and personal relationship with God assured him that his suffering would have an end point, “…his days are determined, and the number of months is with You, and You have appointed his limits that he cannot pass” (Job 14:5). It was in these truths about God that Job was able to “give free utterance” to his anguish. Job knew the truth David would put to song hundreds of years later, “Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:4-5).
There is comfort in knowing that God is in absolute control of the length and breadth of my days. He alone knows the purpose and extent of my sufferings, and I can trust Him with my pain.
His Omniscience enables me to suffer victoriously, just as Job did. Joy will come in the morning!
An Advocate for Suffering – God’s Justice (Job 15-17):
Job certainly did not have an advocate in his three self-righteous friends! I actually shouted, “YES!” when I read that Job rebuked them in Chapter 16: “I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all! Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? I also could speak like you if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you” (Job 16:2-4). Job is worn out! He is exhausted from suffering, and he is exhausted from the “miserable comforters” who won’t give him a moment of peace. He has sewn sackcloth over his skin, buried his head in dust; he is sleepless and wracked with tears. Yet even in this, he trusts his integrity to his heavenly Mediator.
I love the prophetic words that point to Christ in this passage: “Men open their mouths to jeer at me; they strike my cheek in scorn and unite together against me. God has turned me over to evil men and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked. . . he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground” (Job 16:10-14). Jesus suffered! He knows what unjust suffering is. He alone suffered and died for the sins of all mankind, for my sins. Job looked forward to the coming of Christ when perfect atonement would be made for his sins. That atonement is my reality today. Because of Jesus, I can have the same confidence that Job had in the face of unjust accusations, “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend” (Job 16:19-21).
Because of God’s Justice, I can suffer victoriously. Jesus is my Advocate who is at the right hand of the Father interceding for me today.
A Renewal from Suffering – God’s Redemption (Job 18-19):
Once again, Job’s friends urge him to repent to bring an end to his suffering. Job is now feeling crushed by their words, by their reproach, and by God’s silence. He feels alienated and forgotten, ridiculed and detested. He even goes so far as to blame God: “. . . there is no justice. He has blocked my way so I cannot pass; he has shrouded my path in darkness . . . He tears me down on every side till I am gone; he uproots my hope like a tree” (Job 19:7-13).
Then, despite his feelings, Job utters some of the most beautiful words in Scripture, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27). This is the anchor for Job’s soul. When everything is stripped away, when suffering and despair and alienation is suffocating in its darkness, this is the anchor for my soul.
My Redeemer lives and that is the truth that will always enable me to suffer victoriously.
- What encouragement did you receive from Job this week?
- What challenged you?
- How can you begin to see victory in your own struggles and suffering?
I hope you are seeing the book of Job in a whole new light. I hope that you are rejoicing in the victory that we never suffer in vain. I hope you are challenged to be a better friend than Job had. And most of all, I pray that you are allowing God’s truth and His character to be the anchor for your soul!