Summary: Job is in so much pain that we wishes he had never been born. His suffering continues and is not lessened by the words of a friend.
Job 3:1-10, 4:1-9, 7:11-21 “Stuck”
Jay Wilson and Phillip Clay are heroes. Jay was half way home after finals at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. On I-65 a Jeep Cherokee suddenly veered and hit the median guard rail. At first he thought the driver was drunk. After watching the car bounce off the rail several times, he started to think something else may be wrong. He drove up next to the car and saw a young woman, her head rolling side to side—obviously unconscious. Taking action he drove in front of the Cherokee and started to apply the brakes in order to slow down. The problem was that the Cherokee weighed much more than the little Toyota that he was driving.
Phillip Clay was driving a flatbed truck. He came up alongside the vehicles and motioned for Jay to get out of his way. With weight on his side Phillip was able to bring the car to a stop. They pull and unconscious, twenty-nine year old Kara Roberts out of the car. Rushing Kara to the hospital she regained consciousness. After several tests it was determined that Kara passed out because she was pregnant. Both Jay and Phillip received awards for their heroism. They reacted in a positive, effective manner and saved lives.
We often cannot prevent trials and tragedies that befall us. What we can control is our reaction to them. Job and his three friends, by their words and actions, teach us a great deal about suffering and how to react to it.
You have probably heard about the “patience of Job.” Job’s patience was demonstrated in chapter one, but we do not read about patience in today’s lessons.
The full impact of what happened rolls in on Job. He feels grief, pain and despair. He cries out that he wished he’d never have been born.
Job is a reflection of you and me. Often when tragedy strikes we are models of faith one minute and models of despair the next. We alternate between peace and fear. If we are forced to wait we continue to alternate between hope and despair. There are days that we could almost nominate ourselves for sainthood and there are other days when we are embarrassed to call ourselves Christians.
The ups and down are normal behavior for all Christians. Perhaps as we mature in our faith there are more up days than down days, but there will always be the struggle.
The important point is not whether or not we have mastered the ups and downs of life and faith. The important truth in our trials and tribulations is where God is. With Job God has not moved. God has not departed from Job and God still knows all that has happened and is happening in Jobs life. Living as disciples of Jesus we are not called to keep our eyes on ourselves and certainly staring at whatever is troubling us isn’t helpful. We are, however, invited to keep our eyes upon Jesus.
Job had three friends who heard that disaster had struck Job’s life. In chapter two we read that when each of them heard about Job they set out from their homes (vs. 11).
For seven days Jobs three friends sit quietly with him. They shared Job’s grief. They too “raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and three dust in the air upon their heads” (vs. 12).
Unfortunately, in chapter four Job’s friends decide to speak and by doing so they lost their effectiveness in comforting Job.
Humans by nature want to fix things. Job’s friends thought they could fix Job’s suffering by offering him advice and accusing him of hidden sins. We want to fix things when our family, friends or co-workers are in need. It is usually our presence as friends that has the most comforting effects. When we speak—not knowing what to say—we say the wrong thing.
God saw our need and God came to live among us. Certainly Jesus spoke and taught. His words are written in the Bible. It was his identification with his creation, his life, death and resurrection that touched our lives most deeply. Presence—when we stop trying to fix things and wait for the Spirit to move can be very powerful.
In chapter seven Job begins to talk with God. His words are a lament—they express suffering and hopelessness. They are words many of us would feel uncomfortable speaking to God. Still, the Bible especially the Book of Psalms is filled with laments.
God is big enough to take our criticism, crying and anger. God doesn’t stop us and tell us to go to our room. God doesn’t turn the volume of the television up so that God won’t have to listen to us. God does listen.