The book of Job has always been a little perplexing and frustrating to me. I have struggled to work through the criticisms leveled at Job by his friends and Job’s response to them and to God. At the end of the book, God Himself weighs in with a good dose of rebuke for both parties. Here were my questions whenever I read through Job. Why was the truth spoken by Job’s friends rebuked by God? What can I learn from Job’s response to suffering?
I am currently reading through Job again in my daily Bible study, and this is my answer (at least at this point) to the two questions above. The comments of Job’s friends, while grounded in truth, were spoken out of deep self-righteousness. By pointing to Job’s sin as the root cause of all his suffering, they are in essence, exalting their own righteousness as they continue to prosper in health and wealth. Job’s response to his suffering seems to be spoken out of self-pity. He speaks of God’s absolute rule in a way that ignores His mercy and love. Job sets himself up as the victim of cruel Providence.
Therein lies the lesson for my own life. The sins of self-righteousness and self-pity are always crouching at the door of my heart. On the one hand is a tendency toward fault-finding and blameshifting in order to feel some sense of security in my own comfort and happiness. On the other hand is a tendency to exaggerate my pain and minimize God’s mercy and goodness. On the one hand I exalt myself by comparing my best to others’ worst. On the other hand I exalt myself by comparing my worst to others’ best.
The weapons against these two enemies are humility and gratitude (fear and trust) that is rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,4but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”- 2 Corinthians 6