Scripture Reference: The Book of Job 42: 7-10
I was having a conversation with one of my close friends fairly recently. Let’s just say I was (uummm…chastised would be too strong of a word) questioned about something that I had done. To be clear, what I did was not even close to any of the sins outlined in the bible. This person simply did not approve of a decision that I made. Honestly, the conversation bothered me quite a bit for several days. Then God in his infinite wisdom reached down to me and provided comfort, not once, but twice this week.
The most prominent confirmation came to me in the unquestionable form of the Holy Scriptures. I went to church one evening and the pastor ended his series by finishing the book of Job.
Quick summary: Job was a righteous servant of the Lord. God had a conversation with Satan (or the devil). (No really, God actually did that. Take a look and read for yourself.) Satan complains to God that he was walking around the earth trying to figure out whose life he was going to destroy next. God asked if Satan had considered Job. Then Satan complains to God that Job is only faithful because God keeps blessing Job’s life. So, God and Satan began this negotiation about how miserable Satan can make Job’s life. Satan begins to test Job; Job becomes quite miserable. His wife tells him to drop his integrity, curse God and die (Verse 2:9). His friends come to comfort him, sit silently with him for a while, and then began to outline all of the sins Job must have committed to cause God to respond in this way. Job continually defends himself. “I haven’t done anything wrong!” He even begins to defend himself against God. God says, “ENOUGH!” He goes to put Job in check, “Who do you think you are talking to? I run this!” Job repents, not for sins that his friends assumed caused the hardships, but for the sin of not approaching our holy God in the correct way. Job repents (asks for forgiveness and turns away from his wrongdoing). In other words, he won’t approach God in that way again. God blesses him and gives him a new life, but not before addressing Job’s friends.
At this point, God clearly reveals his sense of humor. Earlier in the book, the bible reads that Job’s three friends went to comfort him and sympathize with him (Verse 2:11), but when God addresses the ring leader of the friends, he says, “I am angry with you and YOUR two friends because you have not spoken what is right.” God refused to call them friends of Job. I mean, who needs friends like that anyway. What happened to all of that comfort and sympathy they set out to offer? God basically said to them: You are wrong, and your theology (what you think you know about me) is wrong.
The friends did not understand that they had a very limited understanding of God, and because they did not completely understand God, there was no way for them to understand what he was doing in Job’s life. None of us know God’s ways fully, and we have to be careful about assuming that God can only operate in the way that we deem appropriate. Finally, they simply ignored God’s mercy, and passed judgment. (We’ll get to the issue of judgment at a later date.)
In closing, sometimes we mess up, and God puts us in check! At other times, our friends mess up, and when they do, God puts them in check too! If you are truly a servant of God (like our brother Job) who approaches him in humility and repentance regularly, he will let you know when you are out of step and will lovingly bring you back to where he desires you to be. That’s a wonderful blessing of God.
So, this scripture was an encouragement to me this week.
What do you do when your friends attack? Is your first inclination to defend yourself like Job?