“Who could confront me and get by with it? I’m in charge of all this—I run this universe!”
That’s what Job heard when he’d whined that God wasn’t paying attention to Job’s problems, had ignored his plight and evidently had singled him out to be Heaven’s whipping post.
Attributing human traits to God doesn’t work. You and I are often irritable, easily angered, lose patience and look down our noses at others, pinning them with our judgments and accusations like collected, dried moths to a cardboard back while excusing ourselves for the same foibles or worse.
God suffers from none of those things. So He wasn’t speaking from peevishness or boredom – like some of last night’s debates caused. When God speaks, it’s always to awaken our understanding–usually about ourselves.
And it can get uncomfortable. As Carman said, ” When God speaks, everyone listens–even E. F. Hutton.”
“I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers. Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much. . . . I’ll gladly step aside and hand things over to you—-you can surely save yourself with no help from me!”
You can hear Job swallow, right? You know what that’s like when somebody you’ve gotten comfortable with pounding and making fun of suddenly has had enough, whirls around and stuns you with a glare and direct challenge? When your throat’s suddenly so dry it takes about 6 tries to successfully swallow and get a little moisture down your gullet…
Job got smart. Fast.
“I’m ready to shut up and listen.”
“I’m speechless, in awe–words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.”
Huh. How many times could I have saved myself a ton of trouble by making Job’s ending point my starting line? “I’m ready to shut up and listen.”
My biggest issues have arisen because I was too ready to speak up and impress.
I have a sneaking hunch that’s true for you, too.
Okay, this isn’t to poke either you or me. We could both say a lot here that holds negative value and energy, which is not productive other than to isolate mistakes so that we don’t repeat them.
I think you and I both are pretty aware of those places in the road behind us where there are pretty impressive skidmarks pointing to mangled, destroyed lives and disastrous results.
I’d rather point to a powerfully positive result of Job’s admission and submission.
“After Job had interceded for his friends, God restored his fortune—and then doubled it!”
I’m not saying you’ll always respond to God taking you to the woodshed and then telling you to wash your faith and get with the program by recognizing your place to stand in the gap, praying for others.
I’m saying getting rid of your inflated notions about your ability to outthink God can clear away falseness and restore your focus on this tremendous privilege we have of praying for one another. It also makes God pay a little more attention to your praying because your motives are more closely aligned with His will and desire for those for whom you’re praying.
A lot of rotten stuff happened to Job, stuff he never had coming, never saw coming. He could and did at first lose his joy and edged into bitterness, putting God in his crosshairs. He even caught it from his wife. So, yeah; it’s not hard to grasp why he’d lose his cool. We’ve all done it.
The issue is what we do after God reveals Himself in the whole thing and sets the record straight. Job wised up, straightened up and grew up.
Result? Listen to God, talking to his “friends”. “My friend Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer. He will ask me not to treat you as you deserve for talking nonsense about me, and for not being honest with me as he has.”
“Whoa. Wait. The guy we were just ‘consoling’ after accusing him unfairly? God’s gonna take his prayer and listen to him when He won’t listen to ours? What if his prayers are, um—”
Yeah, you’re getting it. Be vewy, vewy cahfo when you set out to think you’re speaking for God when you’re actually talking from your own meager grasp of things you think you know. Repeat: be vewy, vewy cahfo. . .
Here’s the lesson, straight from the Bible account: “God blessed Job’s later life even more than his earlier life.”
© D. Dean Boone, September 2015