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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Facing Trials: Job [10]

Job's friends have taken a second run at cheering him up or figuring out what's happening to him. They have made a mess of things. Whatever threads of friendship were there, have snapped. Job has snapped and told them what horrible friends they have been; they have not tried to comfort him at all, and have been less than useless.

In the midst of all this angst, Job makes a declaration that his Redeemer will save him. Remember that we are in the Old, and not the New Testament, so he is referring to God.

Job says that even in death, God will save him.

His courage, in this moment, rests in the confidence that salvation lies ahead. Like Job, we can bear up because we know that God will ultimately deliver us from sin, pain, tragedy, sickness, frustration and death itself.

But Job does not stay at the lofty heights of his proclamation for long. He soon begins to slide back into gloom and confusion. But he doesn't ever sink to the depths of despair he experienced earlier. As he concludes his greatest confession of faith, the worst really is over for Job.

Before he and his friends move into their final round of discussions, Job touches on another aspect of his suffering which we need to look at.

He says, “Look at me and be astonished; clap your hand over your mouth” (Job 21:5) Job is speaking about his appearance. It is so bad that it is sickening even to look at him!

Job's words are a harsh reminder to his friends, and to us, of suffering's ugly presence in this world. All around us there is anguish. Yet, we tend to look away from it. Many people cannot bring themselves to visit nursing homes or institutions for the mentally-challenged. Those of us who can see clearly, tend  avoid the empty glaze of the blind. The healthy often avoid being near the infirm. 

But God does not want us to close our eyes to suffering. Rather, he wants us to follow His example. When he became human, He did not avoid humanity's suffering. Christ moved among the poor, the lame, the deaf, blind and diseased. He had compassion. And, He healed.
And he went even further. Christ actually suffered and died for them, and for all of us. Such is God the Redeemer's relation to suffering humanity. Far from being aloof, he became a part of it.

So when Job declares, “Look at me," God is looking. The Lord is looking with far more compassion and love than Job even realizes.


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