Job 6:1-13 – In the Throes of Suffering

“Oh, that my grief were actually weighed,
all of it were lifted up in scales;
     for now it’s heavier than the sands of the sea;
therefore, my words are rash.
 The Almighty’s arrows are in me;
my spirit drinks their poison,
and God’s terrors are arrayed against me.
 Does a donkey bray over grass
or an ox bellow over its fodder?
 Is tasteless food eaten without salt,
or does egg white have taste?
 I refuse to touch them;
they resemble food for the sick.
 Oh, that what I’ve requested would come
and God grant my hope;
     that God be willing to crush me,
release his hand and cut me off.
 I’d still take comfort,
relieved even though in persistent pain;
for I’ve not denied the words of the holy one.
 What is my strength, that I should hope;
my end, that my life should drag on?
 Is my strength that of rocks,
my flesh bronze?
 I don’t have a helper for myself;
success has been taken from me.” (Common English Bible)
 
            The Old Testament character of Job is famous as the poster boy for suffering, grief, and sorrow.  A divine and devilish drama was taking place behind the curtain of this world of which Job had absolutely no clue about.  All he knew was that he lost everything – his family, his wealth, and his standing before others.  The only thing left was his own life – and he was in such physical pain and emotional hurt that he was ready to die.
            Yet, the greatest pain of all seems to be the silence of God.  Job has no idea, nothing to grab a hold of, no earthly sense of why he was going through such intense and terrible suffering.  His cries, tears, pleas, and expressions of deep hurt seemingly go un-noticed.  Job felt truly alone in his horrible pain of body and spirit.
            This is a very old story, probably having taken place 4,000 years ago.  We’re here all these millennia later knowing the story – why Job suffered, as well as the end of the story.  But Job himself never knew why he suffered, even when God spoke and restored his health and wealth.
            It is so very easy and normal to ask the question, “why?”  When we are in the throes of emotional pain and our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling, there is only trust left for us.  We do what is unthinkable to others who have never known God – place our complete reliance and hope on the God for whom we know is not really sleeping or off on a vacation.  He’s there.  For whatever reasons which we might never know this side of heaven, God chooses to remain silent.
            The genuineness of faith is not determined by giving the right answers to a theology questionnaire.  Genuine faith is made strong through the trials, sufferings, pain, and lack of understanding in this life.  We all suffer in some way.  How we choose to respond to that suffering, either by cursing God and becoming bitter, or holding to God even tighter and becoming better, is totally up to you and me.

 

God of all creation, you see and survey all your creatures here on this earth.  Sometimes I just don’t understand what in the world you are doing or not doing.  Yet, today I choose to put my faith, hope, and love in you.  I may not know what I’m doing, but you always work to accomplish your good purposes; through Jesus Christ, my Savior, along with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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