Today’s reading: Job 11-13.
Like Job’s friends, most of us will find ourselves at some point in the presence of suffering friends. What will we say at that time? Our friend or family member may have lost a spouse, a child, a job, or their health. We want to comfort them. We want to encourage them. We end up saying things that at best are based on old platitudes and at worst may be completely untrue. I’m thinking specifically of comments such as, “God needed another angel in heaven.” Before we project our ideas onto God, we should remember the warning Job gave the “worthless physicians” who tried to heal his hurt.
“Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf ? Will you speak deceitfully for him? Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God? Would it turn out well if he examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive men? He would surely rebuke you if you secretly showed partiality.” Job 13:7-10
Job’s friends were trying to stick up for God, but they were bending the truth in order to do it. God later told them that he was angry with them because they did not speak the truth about him, as Job did.
Job said God was in charge, sovereign, and responsible for his calamity. His friends said Job was responsible, because of unconfessed sin.
Job wanted to hear an answer straight from God. Job’s friends were relying on old sayings of tradition that had nothing to do with God’s word.
Job started with the reality of his suffering and then used reason to try to understand God. Job’s friends stuck with their preconceived ideas about God and ignored how the present reality might change their views.
Because of his honesty and searching, Job’s faith grew. He was able to proclaim, in spite of all his pain, “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).
Slaying times let us know whether our strength is real strength and whether our confidence is true confidence! And this is good, for it would be a great pity for us to be stocked with heaps of vain faith, fictitious Grace and ready-made holiness. Some of my friends talk as if they had boldness enough for a dozen people, but I am afraid if they were tried, as some of us are, they would find they had not half enough for one! This is the benefit of trial—it lets us see what is gold and what is tinsel—what is fact and what is fiction. Alas, how much religious fiction is abroad at this time! Note further, that slaying times are the most favorable for trusting God. I have been putting a little riddle to myself. Here it is. Is it easier to trust God when you have nothing, or when you have all things?
Is it easier to say, “Though He slay me, I will trust in Him,” or to say, “Though He make me alive, I will trust in Him”? Will you think it over? Shall I help you? Here is a man without a farthing in the world. His cupboard is bare, his flocks are cut off from the field and his herds from the stall. Is it hard for that man to trust in God? If you say so I will not dispute with you. But here is another man who has a bank full of gold. His meadows are covered with flocks and herds, his barns are ready to burst with corn and his trade prospers on all hands. Now, Sirs, is it easy for that man to trust God? Do you say, “Yes”? I say, “No.”
I say that he has a very hard task, indeed, to live by faith, and the probabilities are that when he says, “I trust God,” he is trusting his barn or his bank. All things considered, it occurs to me that it is easier to trust God in adversity than in prosperity, because whatever trust there is in adversity is real trust. But a good deal of the faith we have in prosperity is a kind of trust which you will have to take upon trust—and whether it is faith or not is a matter of serious question. Sirs, where is the room for faith when you can see, already, all that you need? A full barn has no room for faith if she is any bigger than a mouse. But in an empty barn faith has scope and liberty. When the brook Cherith is dried up, when the poor widow has nothing left but a handful of meal and a little oil, then there is room for the Prophet to exercise faith! Charles Spurgeon
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