Day 4 - Job 29:2-4, 21-25; 30:16-23
Are There Better Days Ahead?
One of the hardest struggles in the midst of suffering is memories of the way things were. Job felt that:
29:2 Oh that I were as in months gone by, As in the days when God watched over me; 3 When His lamp shone over my head, And by His light I walked through darkness; 4 As I was in the prime of my days, When the friendship of God was over my tent;
Don’t miss the important lesson here. We easily forget the bad times in the midst of abundance, but the reverse is also true. We easily remember the good times in the midst of absence. Oh how closely many of us can relate! We often ask the question why can’t things just be as they once were? We don’t understand what God is doing. We feel like he’s far away. Job felt all that, but he also knew he had great influence, so he needed to decide how to lead in this situation.
21 To me they listened and waited,
And kept silent for my counsel. 22 After my words they did not speak again, And my speech dropped on them. 23 They waited for me as for the rain,
And opened their mouth as for the spring rain. 24 I smiled on them when they did not believe,
And the light of my face they did not cast down. 25 I chose a way for them and sat as chief,
And dwelt as a king among the troops,
As one who comforted the mourners.
Job is remembering the influence God allowed him to have with those around him. He is remembering when he was at his highest while currently he surely is at his lowest. I think we can relate to days, weeks, or even seasons where we missed what was in front of us because we were reflecting on what once was.
Do you have a tendency to live in the past and potentially miss what God is teaching you or putting in front of you today? How do you (or can you) fight that tendency?
Job then contrasts what once was to what currently is. He reaches an even deeper low as the cries of his soul resonate with many of us.
30:16 And now my soul is poured out within me;
Days of affliction have seized me. 17
At night it pierces my bones within me,
And my gnawing pains take no rest. 18 By a great force my garment is distorted; It binds me about as the collar of my coat. 19 He has cast me into the mire,
And I have become like dust and ashes. 20
I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me;
I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me. 21 You have become cruel to me; With the might of Your hand You persecute me. 22 You lift me up to the wind and cause me to ride; And You dissolve me in a storm. 23 For I know that You will bring me to death
And to the house of meeting for all living.
Like Job, our anguish can cause us to throw in the towel and firmly cry out we are done. In our suffering it may seem as though God either cares very little or has forgotten us completely. What we must remind ourselves is that God has absolute sovereignty and irresistible power, but he never uses either of those for the crushing or oppressing of his children.
What’s hard to see is that the blackest storm clouds are often thickest with mercy. When God seems most cruel to us, he is also being most kind. In the midst of pain, there is such a richness and tenderhearted reliance on God that comes from our complete surrender to his will and want over our lives.
It’s difficult to realize God’s love letters from heaven are often sent in black edged envelopes. It takes time for us to understand all that he is writing. It’s hard to understand what God is doing with only the darker part of the story in front of us. Even when things are bleak, God is worthy of our faith and trust. Be encouraged that in Him, there are better days ahead!
How can we seek God in the middle of our deepest pain? What can we do to remind ourselves of God’s true character?
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