A long time ago, I used to describe myself as the Lord’s 3 year old. Why? <His answer> Why? <His answer to the 2nd “why”>, Why? …
The good that God has brought out of that is to see the value in questions. For a really deep treatment of some of this see Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III’s book “The Cry of the Soul: How our Emotions Reveal our Deepest Questions about God”
But there is also more that is not in their book, one of those things is that it is good to have questions.
Today the day to day nature of Jesus was that His Spirit raised a question about the situation of Job. In the book of Job, a lot of the book is the interaction between Job and 3 of his friends, after Job has experienced some horrendous losses. Job ends up in either a downward spiral, or a truthward spiral toward anger. And the 3 friends seem to facilitate that through their “understanding”. What I missed the first few times through is the 4th friend. This friend doesn’t speak until about chapter 32. What he says is short. What his name literally means is “He is God”.
A long time ago, a friend who listened with empathy and compassion, and whose life was filled with loss as well, said to me “You are going through what Job went through.” I didn’t like the comparison. I didn’t want to be going through what Job went through. But I was. I really didn’t want to admit that foolishly I was probably really angry at God too. But, not wanting to add stupidity on to foolishness, I went back to read Job again.
At the end, Holy Spirit asked me the question “Since Job saw that everything could be taken from him in a moment, could he enjoy life when God restored everything to him double?” That was an extraordinarily hard question for me. I was tired of the suffering, the one loss after another, the not being able to protect the ones that I loved, the shame of failure after failure. I longed for things to change. My heart was sick (As in Prov 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”) I longed for one desire to be fulfilled. I really wanted all that had been stolen to be returned, and the time lost to be redeemed.
“Then I will make up to you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.” (Joe 2:25)
It seems like too much. But, hey, why not if God wants to give it?
The reason “Why not”, is in the question, and in the experience of Job trials. What if it happens again? When you have been crushed, there is a strong desire to never, ever, experience it again, especially not a greater crushing. It has made me a lot of the time say “Please don’t bless me. I can’t stand the pain of the loss.” I am somewhat in that place now with regard to a wife. But God calls us to risk, and to adventure.
So, finally, I gave up, admitted that I didn’t know the answer, and scripture didn’t seem to suggest an answer. So I asked Holy Spirit, “Did Job enjoy the restoration that God gave?” The reply was “The answer is in the character of God.” Then I knew. God doesn’t tease the ones who have suffered. He is not cruel. (“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Ps 51:16, and
The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed; (Luke 4:18 – NKJV)
He is about binding up broken hearts, not crushing them further.
Today, I heard of a friend’s Job trials, that I did not realize had gone on, and were going on. He had recently reread Job. The question came up in my own fears. I was afraid that I would be tempted to be like Job’s 3 friends, and not like Elihu, the 4th friends.
The questions were:
Did Job’s 3 friends counsel out of their own understanding, and not seek God?
Did God use that anyway to help Job anyway? [I just had the image of a glycerin suppository come to mind. Did they help Job, through their ignorance and arrogance, unload the crap ton of anger that he was carrying?]
Had Elihu gone through some of the same things that Job was going through, the faithfulness, the righteousness, the loss, the betrayal, and the realization that faith is needed, He is God. He doesn’t have to explain things to me. He is good. He loves me.
So, basically, I began to wonder if Job’s 3 friends were limited by their experiences, and Elihu what gifted by his. And, as I wrote that, and I won’t go back and change it. What I really mean has to do not just experiences as separated from God, but experiences of Emmanuel, God in their midst, God walking with them.
Which leads me to the last question: Where am I?
The only answer that matters is that He said that He is with me.
“…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mat 28:20 (NASB) and ‘For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”‘ Heb 13:5 (NASB)
quoting Deu 31:6, and Deu 31:8
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (v6 NKJV
“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” (v8 NKJV)