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Devotions for Life

The Cry

Job 7:6-21

Read
“I cannot keep from speaking. I must express my anguish. My bitter soul must complain. Am I a sea monster or a dragon that you must place me under guard? I think, ‘My bed will comfort me, and sleep will ease my misery,’ but then you shatter me with dreams and terrify me with visions. I would rather be strangled—rather die than suffer like this. I hate my life and don’t want to go on living. Oh, leave me alone for my few remaining days.”

“What are people, that you should make so much of us, that you should think of us so often? For you examine us every morning and test us every moment. Why won’t you leave me alone, at least long enough for me to swallow! If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of all humanity? Why make me your target? Am I a burden to you? Why not just forgive my sin and take away my guilt? For soon I will lie down in the dust and die. When you look for me, I will be gone.” (Job 7:11-21)

Reflect
Job stopped talking to Eliphaz and spoke directly to God. He had lived a blameless life, but now he was beginning to doubt the value of living in such a way. By doing this, he was coming dangerously close to suggesting that God didn’t care about him and was not being fair. Later God reproved Job for this attitude (Job 38:2).

Job referred to God as a watcher or observer of humanity. He was expressing his feeling that God seemed like an enemy to him—someone who mercilessly watched him squirm in his misery. We know that God does watch over everything that happens to us. But we must remember that he sees us with compassion. He looks on us with eyes of love.

Job felt deep anguish and bitterness, and he spoke honestly to God about his frustrations. If we express our feelings to God, we can deal with them without exploding in harmful words and actions. Satan always exploits these thoughts to get us to forsake God. Our suffering, like Job’s, may not be the result of our sin, but we must be careful not to sin as a result of our suffering.

Respond
The next time strong emotions threaten to overwhelm you, express them openly to God in prayer. This will help you gain an eternal perspective on the situation and give you greater ability to deal with it constructively.



God’s Ways Don’t Make Sense

Job 9:1-35

Read
“If someone wanted to take God to court, would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times? For God is so wise and so mighty. Who has ever challenged him successfully? …

“… Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty. Though I am blameless, it would prove me wicked.” (Job 9:3-4, 20)

Reflect
Job knew that God didn’t owe him anything. Job was alive by the grace of God, even if he was suffering. Job also believed that he had not sinned in a way to deserve such suffering.

Job didn’t think his life warranted such suffering, so he wanted his case presented before God (Job 9:32-35). He recognized, however, that arguing with God would be futile and unproductive (Job 9:4). Job knew that in bringing his case against God, he would only sin by falsely accusing God. “Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty.”

When we face hardships, whether big or small, we can become indignant, believing that we did nothing to deserve them. Job’s attitude can guide us here. We must be careful to avoid accusing God or believing we’re right and he’s wrong. God is always right, even if we can’t understand our own circumstances. God is always right. Period.

Respond
Like Job, we must live in the fear of the Lord. That wisdom will keep us from sinning. That wisdom will cultivate humility for the times when God’s ways don’t make sense.



An Anguished Argument

Job 10:1-22

Read
“‘You formed me with your hands; you made me, yet now you completely destroy me. Remember that you made me from dust—will you turn me back to dust so soon? You guided my conception and formed me in the womb. You clothed me with skin and flesh, and you knit my bones and sinews together. You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love. My life was preserved by your care.

Yet your real motive—your true intent—was to watch me, and if I sinned, you would not forgive my guilt. If I am guilty, too bad for me; and even if I’m innocent, I can’t hold my head high, because I am filled with shame and misery. And if I hold my head high, you hunt me like a lion and display your awesome power against me. Again and again you witness against me. You pour out your growing anger on me and bring fresh armies against me.’” (Job 10:8-17)

Reflect
In frustration, Job jumped to the conclusion that God was out to get him. He could only see life from his human perspective and had no idea of the bigger picture or the end of the story. His focus, quite naturally, was on his current predicament and not on God’s purpose and goodness.

Like Job, our perspective is extremely limited—we cannot know the future or all of the other events that are occurring in the world. So we should be careful about using our experiences to make assumptions about life in general. Wrong assumptions lead to wrong conclusions.

Job began to wallow in self-pity. When we face baffling affliction, our pain can lure us toward feeling sorry for ourselves. At this point we are only one step away from self-righteousness, where we keep track of life’s injustices and say, “Look what happened to me; how unfair it is!” We may feel like blaming God.

If you find yourself doubting God, remember that you probably can’t see the whole picture. And when you are struggling, don’t assume the worst. God wants only the very best for you. Many people endure great pain, but ultimately they find some greater good came from it.

Respond
Remember that life’s trials, whether allowed by God or sent by God, can be the means for development and refinement. When facing trials, instead of asking, “Who did this to me and how can I get out of it?” ask, “What can I learn and how can I grow?”