Speaking the Truth in Love

Sitting in the Ashes

See the source imageJob is a wealthy Arab sheik. His 10 children are his delight, and he enjoys the deep respect of a community that admires his wise judgment and generosity to the poor. Job revels in the knowledge that God is good to him. He is a man at peace with the world and its Creator, a man of remarkable integrity who reveres the Lord and hates evil.

See the source image After losing his children and his possessions, Job tears his robe, shaves his head, and worships. And then he loses his health too. Covered with oozing and itching sores, he sits “in the ashes” (Job 2:8). In spite of this stupendous suffering, Job continues to trust the Lord. But why should anyone rely on God when everything goes terribly wrong?

One reason is that trusting God in painful circumstances leads to rich spiritual rewards. In Job’s case bitter pain produces deeper intimacy with God, greater insight, and deeper faith. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,” Job says, “but now my eye sees you” (Job 42:5).

In the opening scenes of the book of Job, we meet a man whose life is in perfect order. He probably believes that good things happen to good people and that bad things only happen to bad people. Job is a man with so much money and social clout that a bit of snobbishness is almost inevitable (Job 30:1).

See the source image But the man presented in the closing scenes of the book has grown spiritually. By bitter experience Job has learned that innocent people can and do suffer miserably. He now knows that pat answers to painful questions answer nothing, that affliction calls for compassion and not smugness, and that God manages the world wisely even when suffering people can’t see his purposes. Job says, “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3).

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