Am I dirty or did the enemy just give away his position?
The book of Job is a tough one. Against common assumption, Job does not respond to question of why evil or suffering happens. It does however acknowledge the reality of suffering, showing us how to suffer. In the words of Gerry Breshears, “Job encourages us to cry out to God, rather than blogging about God.”
The story of Job begins with God saying he (Job) is righteous (1v8). Job is an upright guy that does justice and righteousness, The Way of God. Then we see the satan (anti-God) and God having a friendly conversation. This is weird. It’s one of those texts that doesn’t have a good answer. And that’s okay… don’t miss the forest for the trees.
The satan is given permission by God to cause Job harm. Bad stuff begins happening to Job. His business, assets, savings, and family are all stolen from him. But Job holds to his picture of God, that God is good and cares for him, refusing to blame God for the suffering (1v20).
Then the satan causes boils to break out on Job’s skin (2v7). More bad stuff. And this time it’s both public anguish and private agony. Now Job’s own health is taken from him. Every inch of peaceful space has been removed from Job’s life. He’s got nothing left.
Life is hell for Job. Total hell.
Side note: Deuteronomy 28 talks about the consequences (for Israel) of rejecting God’s way of living… one of which includes boils. So it’s no wonder that when Job’s friends come on the scene, after sitting quietly with him for seven days (the power of presence), they shift into ‘you must have done something wrong mode.’ But remember, God called Job righteous. So what was happening to Job wasn’t because he’d done something wrong. (There’s a lesson here for us to be humble when counseling each other.)
And that’s the set up. But what happens next is fascinating. Job makes a seemingly hopefully three part statement in 13v15:
1. “Though he (God) slay me
2. yet will I hope in him (God);
3. I will surely defend my ways to his (God’s) face.”
Job acknowledges the reality of his suffering, chooses to put his hope in God, then does something strange. He actually thinks he can defend his ways to God’s face.
Why is this interesting? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve picked up the idea that I’m dirty, not clean. Far from being righteous. Far from being able to defend my life to God. I mean... I must be dirty, right?
But this is the key, notice what’s happening! At that moment, the one when we feel accused, hearing: “You’re dirty! Not righteous! It’s not possible for you to be righteous.” Could it be that the enemy is giving away his position?
I think so.
I think a light just came on and what was hiding in the dark accusing you is now shown for what it really is… a lying hateful voice that wants to convince you that you’re outside of God. Outside of Love.
1 Timothy 3v2 says to be a leader (an Elder) of a local church, one is to live “above reproach.” So it’s possible in practice to live righteous.
And Ephesians 1 says God “chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.” So when the Father looks at His family, because of Jesus, He sees us as holy and blameless. You. And me.
What’s the big idea? Simply put, in the process of working through pain, we must be aware of the voice of the accuser who longs to turn us against God.
But what’s our role? I mean, what does God say is best (in reference to communication with Him) when we’re in the middle of hell?
In Job chapter 40, Job becomes aware of how big God is and goes silent. A feeling too overwhelming for words. But God will not accept Job’s silent submission (a virtue to many), rather God requires Job to participate in conversation (as a covenant partner) with Him. God is bringing Job through the confrontation and into a returning to Love, again receiving an awareness of who God is for him. An invitation back to believing who God is:
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…” Exodus 34v6-7a
God wanted Job to continue talking and listening with Him (seen also in Joshua 7v6-10). God always wants us to stay in that place, it’s who God is. It is impossible for The Divine Dance that is God to go silent… and we’re smack dab in the middle. Father, Son, and Spirit in an unending conversation of love. God knows silence does not heal. And He longs to be our Healer. So we’re only to breathe, listen, and respond with childlike words. Any words will do. He knows.
For today, may we recognize the enemies voice of accusation in our moments of deep pain and choose to believe God is still good… relying on God’s love for us as we honestly talk and listen with Him. And may we allow Holy Spirit to changing our thinking as we remember who He says we are.
God, thank you for wanting to see me through my pain. Thank you for not letting me play the victim card when I think of You, just shutting up thinking I’m worthless and deserve the pain. Thank you that you’re drawing me out to be in conversation with you. Thank you that you say I matter to You. Thank you for inviting me to trust You today.