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Devotions for Life

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?”



A Matter of Death and Life

Job 13:20–14:22

Read
“But when people die, their strength is gone. They breathe their last, and then where are they? As water evaporates from a lake and a river disappears in drought, people are laid to rest and do not rise again. Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep.”

“I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death. You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork.” (Job 14:10-15)

Reflect
Life is short and full of trouble, Job lamented in his closing remarks to this first round of conversation. Sickness, loneliness, disappointment, and death caused him to conclude that life is not fair. Some understand Job 14:14-15 to mean that, even in his gloom, Job hoped for the resurrection of the dead.

The Old Testament does not say much about the resurrection of the dead. Job’s pessimism about death is understandable. What is remarkable is his budding hope (Job 14:14). If only God would hide him with the dead and then bring him out again! If only he could die and live again!

When we must endure suffering, we have an advantage over Job. Christ arose, and we have hope based on his promise in John 14:19. We know that the dead will rise.

Job’s profound speech in this section illustrates great truth: To have a right set of doctrines is not enough. To know what to believe is not all that is required to please God. Truth untested by life’s experiences may become static and stagnant. Suffering can bring a dynamic quality to life. Just as drought drives the roots of a tree deeper to find water, so suffering can drive us beyond superficial acceptance of truth to dependence on God for hope and life.

Respond
God’s solution to believers who live in an unfair world is to guarantee life with him forever. No matter how unfair your present world seems, God offers the opportunity of being in his presence eternally. Today, thank God for his love and presence now, and live in hope for the resurrection to come.