Suffering is Your Opportunity to Show Your Quality (Part 11)

Good Intentions Going, Going, Gone

At least Job still had his friends right? Well, lets see how far their love goes with Job. We know that they started out with good intentions.

“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.  And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.  So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.” Job 2:11-13.

Wow, these are really good friends. I am sure they would have traveled a great distance at great expense. And really, didn’t they minister to Job in a particularly amazing way. They sat there with him in his ordeal without saying a word, for seven days and nights! I don’t know about you, but that amazes me. To me it is an Old Testament miracle. How many people can sit there when you are in dire straights and not say a word. It is almost like there is a compulsion to say something. Many will offer sympathy, many will make assessments, many will make awkward comments attempting to ease the burden, many will bring stories of others who have had similar things happen to them, most will try to help with solutions and remedies. They did not, not yet.

We get a glimpse into the depth of suffering that Job was going through. We know that he had lost so much that was dear and precious to him. He really lost everything but his life, even his health. And when that goes, the stress and distress of the loss of physical strength goes with it. When you are exhausted and depleted you are such an easy target for the enemy. Never purposely allow yourself to go without adequate nutrition, exercise and rest or you are an easy target for attack.

Job clearly did not have a choice in this matter. Decisions were being made for him. Another was dealing the hand he must play. He was so bad off that it was outwardly visible from a distance: “And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.” And that was from a distance. The friends could see that Job’s situation was very severe. Imagine as they got closer, the stench of his sores and the infection in them. His friends immediately reacted to the sight of him with the strongest statement of woe that was used in that culture. They wept, tore their clothes, and placed dust on their heads.

Don’t you know they had to be thinking, “There but by the grace of God go I.” And they probably added to it some self-righteous thoughts of what he must have done to deserve this and that they wanted in on the scoop. This is purely conjecture though and I don’t know what they were thinking as they looked upon their friend. Soon enough though we get some insights. But, “they saw that his grief was very great.”

Eventually Job speaks and lets out some thinking that was building up in him. He spends the next chapter (3) letting his grief be known, very likely desiring to know that someone cares, someone understands. Don’t we all need a way to get relief from our pain and suffering? I believe that God understands us. He too was tempted in all ways. He knows just what it feels like when everything is against you and you can’t seem to find a source of relief and comfort. Even his disciples left Him in the end.

Job is not angry or blaming God, he is just hurting. He needs some relief from his present state. We all need hope. We all need to believe in our time of suffering, pain and loss that it will get better. When you are in the heat of the trial and test you do not always see this readily, that is often God’s purpose, to take you beyond what can be managed by you and beyond your present hope. He wants to teach you that your hope is often beyond your sight, beyond your reasoning and beyond any solution you can find. Hope resides past these in your faith, in Him. Believing when there is no visible or reasonable evidence to believe – have faith in God.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.

Job’s despair is not only in the circumstances that he finds himself but even more poignantly within the truth coming home that being righteous will not protect nor prevent you from experiencing hardship and suffering. Job is being processed by his affliction and taken to a higher understanding. He is approaching a new revelation through personal experience. Who knows, they may have even had a saying in their day that when someone began with, “God is good”, they would end it with, “all the time.” Is He? This will mess with your head, this will renew and transform your mind. Where is the good in this? Where is the good in pain and suffering?

I can pretty much tell you that if you want to go on with God, to become like Christ you will need to be processed too. It is a dark day (for a short time) when all your religious sayings and teachings that have tickled your ears can’t touch the reality you find yourself in. Stick in there though, having done all stand, then stand. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalms 30:5.

Don’t be concerned though, this is optional, for disciples only. God never made any man do anything against his will. You have to love Him enough to want to be like Him. “If any many would be my disciple…” It is always a choice. Many, sadly, do not want to be His disciple and exit the race far too soon. That is your choice though, not His. There, I have told you beforehand.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Rom. 8:28-29.

There is absolutely a choice to make concerning how far you will go. There is absolutely a cost to following Him – your very life. All this talk about death, dying, living sacrifices and resurrection starts to make sense when you are going through it.

Jobs friends are with him for now. Once he begins making claims that he is without blame, that he is yet righteous and still all this has come upon him, the friends take a different tone with him. Much of the rest of the book of Job is a volley of dialogs between Job and his assertions of righteousness and the friend’s challenges to that statement. Their good intentions only led them as far as their tickling ears wanted to hear. Once some stout truth is spoken that disrupts their religious thinking, they get testy with Job. Suddenly their intentions that were formerly good get changed. When they had formerly come to be a comfort to Job, they are now searching for words and arguments that comfort themselves.

Oh yes, the temperature will get very hot in your life if you choose to take a stand for God and truth. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Tim. 3:12. People with good intentions will even turn on you when your words challenge their neat little way of keeping things clear and easy and manageable. But through it all Job kept his integrity. He did not succumb to the pressures of his friends. He did not take pleasure in the battles but when the battles concern truth a son of God must not back down, no matter the cost. We are not called to be liked and accepted, we are called to be Salt and Light, two things that can have a very adverse effect on impure and darkened things.

Suffering is your opportunity to show your quality.