Job is spent. He looks back at how things were back ‘then’; when he was walking in victory. And he compares it to ‘now’ when he is in the agony of defeat.
The things Job says he did for others is impressive. He lists several for us in chapter 29.
- “I delivered the poor who cried for help” (verse 12a)
- “And the fatherless who had none to help him” (verse 12b)
- “I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy” (verse 13b)
- “I was eyes to the blind” (verse 15a)
- “And feet to the lame” (verse 15b)
- “I was a father to the needy” (verse 16a)
- “I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know” (verse 16b)
- “I broke the fangs of the unrighteous and made him drop his prey from his teeth” (verse 17)
- Gave excellent counsel
- Encouraged others with even just a smile
But these things also made him proud. We see this in how he describes his life back ‘then’ in chapter 29.
- “My children were all around me” (verse 5b)
- “My steps were washed with butter and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!” (verse 6)
- “When I went out to the gate of the city, when I prepared my seat in the square” (verse 7)
- “The young men saw me and withdrew” (verse 8a)
- “And the aged rose and stood” (verse 8b)
- “The princes refrained from talking and laid their hand on their mouth” (verse 9)
- “The voice of the nobles was hushed, and their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth” (verse 10)
- “When the ear heard, it called me blessed, and when the eye saw it approved” (verse 11)
- “Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel” (verse 21)
- “They waited for me as for the rain, and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain” (verse 23)
- “I chose their way and sat as chief” (verse 25a)
- “I lived like a king among his troops, like one who comforts mourners” (25b)
Job attributes these things to a single source; God’s favor. “Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me, when His lamp shone upon my head and by His light I walked through darkness, as I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent, when the Almighty was yet with me” (verses 29:2-5a). Job knows where his good fortune came from. He knows it didn’t originate from him but he has made the most of God’s favor in his life. Did he go too far and begin to think more of his own prowess in the city rather than the fact that he was being God’s hands and feet? I don’t know. Only God does. Maybe that was the point of his lesson.
After going over what used to be in his life and how he helped people back ‘then’, he takes a hard look at where things stand for him now. It is NOT a pretty picture.
Now the people that Job looked down on are looking down on him. I want to know who these men were. They sound like the poorest of the poor to me. They also are possibly those that, through some act or inaction of their own, have made their own place in society. Even the young men of these “fathers” are considered unacceptable to Job. Those young men are the ones laughing directly at Job. “But now they laugh at me, men who are younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the dogs of my flock” (verse 30:1)
These were not the men Job would ever have helped in his former life. They are men he wants nothing to do with. I can hear them now taunting him with, “How the mighty have fallen!” I would like to know what it is about these men that has Job thumbing his nose at them. They are the poorest of the poor as identified by their only choices for food. They have been cast out by society. They are homeless and live among the rocks and in caves. They must have been known to Job and have known of him in his former glory. Why else would they be rejoicing over his downfall if not for the way he treated them previously. These men who were once beneath Job’s contempt have now become aloof from him! He has become the target of their contempt as they were once to him.
Thinking about these men, I was wondering how Jesus would have treated such men. I was reminded of the story of Jesus casting out the demons of the man who lived among the tombs. This man was the poorest of the poor as well as being homeless. He was someone who was cast out of society and looked down on by all. Jesus made a special trip to Gadarenes just to see this man and deal with his needs. He did NOT look down on him. In fact, He turned him into one who would spread the gospel for Him instead. There is NO ONE who is beneath the Love of God!
Job last complaints are about his physical body. His physical ailments affect more than just his body. His soul is weary too. I have seen this myself. My husband becomes more despondent when his pain is higher. And it is even worse when there is no relief for the pain. He spend more than 20 years in increasing pain before finding relief. There were days he talked of ending his life to relieve the suffering.
Job is in utter distress. “Now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken hold of me” (verse 16). He finds nothing to relieve his pain, even at night. There is NO comfortable position. No lotion that sooths. No medicine that takes away the ache deep within his bones. NO relief what so ever for his body. And NO relief for his soul either as his friends aren’t even offering him comfort but conviction.
The only place Job has left to go is to the Lord. He has appealed to God several times though it always seems he had a ‘but’ in there somewhere. There is a ‘but’ in his cry here too. It is almost an accusation. “I cry out to You but You destroy me instead” attitude. Job goes farther and says that he even made intercession for others when they were in like circumstances as his. But not even that is winning God’s favor.
What is it going to take to get God’s attention? What lesson is it that Job is expected to learn? Why is God silent as Job cries out? How could He let this happen to such a good man? These are Job’s questions and mine too. I think we are about ready for the answer.
Father God, my heart breaks for Job. I think what hurts me most about his story is that he counts YOU as the one doing all this to him. From the beginning we see it is Satan doing the actual destruction. You are allowing it because You have something greater waiting on the other side. Just like You allowed all that happened to Jesus while He walked the earth. You see beyond today. I TRUST You in whatever comes! I may complain about the pain but I KNOW You will make something glorious out of it afterwards.
Get ready Job, for your shift is about to come. And when it does, that ‘ah-ah’ moment will be worth it!