Read Job 30
30 “But now they mock me,
men younger than I,
whose fathers I would have disdained
to put with my sheep dogs.
2 Of what use was the strength of their hands to me,
since their vigor had gone from them?
3 Haggard from want and hunger,
they roamed the parched land
in desolate wastelands at night.
4 In the brush they gathered salt herbs,
and their food was the root of the broom bush.
5 They were banished from human society,
shouted at as if they were thieves.
6 They were forced to live in the dry stream beds,
among the rocks and in holes in the ground.
7 They brayed among the bushes
and huddled in the undergrowth.
8 A base and nameless brood,
they were driven out of the land.
9 “And now those young men mock me in song;
I have become a byword among them.
10 They detest me and keep their distance;
they do not hesitate to spit in my face.
11 Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me,
they throw off restraint in my presence.
12 On my right the tribe attacks;
they lay snares for my feet,
they build their siege ramps against me.
13 They break up my road;
they succeed in destroying me.
‘No one can help him,’ they say.
14 They advance as through a gaping breach;
amid the ruins they come rolling in.
15 Terrors overwhelm me;
my dignity is driven away as by the wind,
my safety vanishes like a cloud.
16 “And now my life ebbs away;
days of suffering grip me.
17 Night pierces my bones;
my gnawing pains never rest.
18 In his great power God becomes like clothing to me;
he binds me like the neck of my garment.
19 He throws me into the mud,
and I am reduced to dust and ashes.
20 “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
I stand up, but you merely look at me.
21 You turn on me ruthlessly;
with the might of your hand you attack me.
22 You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;
you toss me about in the storm.
23 I know you will bring me down to death,
to the place appointed for all the living.
24 “Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man
when he cries for help in his distress.
25 Have I not wept for those in trouble?
Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
26 Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
when I looked for light, then came darkness.
27 The churning inside me never stops;
days of suffering confront me.
28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
29 I have become a brother of jackals,
a companion of owls.
30 My skin grows black and peels;
my body burns with fever.
31 My lyre is tuned to mourning,
and my pipe to the sound of wailing.
Some times in Scripture point to the reality of “do good, get good; do bad, get bad.” At times, God blesses the faithful and punishes the wicked. But how do we make sense of the times where that clearly isn’t the case? As we have read for the last thirty chapters, Job was written to fill that void and to discuss the reality that some people do good and still get bad.
We saw in Job 29 that Job regularly helped the poor and oppressed. He was a very wealthy and powerful man who used his resources for genuine good. By the time Job 30:24, we see Job in the very same position he used to pull people out of. He has nothing, he’s sick, and can’t seem to catch a break. To make matters worse, we read this in v. 11, “Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me, they throw off restraint in my presence.” Instead of helping their brother in need, Job’s friends come at him without restraint. They’re coming at him to the point the author uses the language of a military siege to describe it!
What can we possibly glean from such a bleak passage? First, the very fact that this chapter is in Scripture is important. As we know, nothing made it into the Bible without God’s approval. All of Scripture is “God-breathed,” and “useful,” so there is a purpose to the Spirit’s preservation of this text. As mentioned earlier, the Book of Job, filled with chapters like this, wrestles with the reality that one does not always receive good things simply because they’re a good person. The very fact that God placed this book in Scripture screams that it is okay to be suffering. It’s not a sign that God hates you or is disappointed in you. He doesn’t. He loves you so very much that He sent His own Son Jesus Christ to die that you might have the opportunity to spend eternity with Him!
Speaking of Jesus, that’s another key purpose of Job. Here we see a precursor to the Gospel story. Jesus knows a thing or two about doing good and getting bad. He literally did the ultimate good and received the ultimate bad. He is sympathetic to our sufferings because He suffered too. We catch a glimpse of this in Job, but we see it fully realized in Christ. For those of us in Christ, there is always a resurrection after a death.
- Think of a time where you have experienced something bad after doing something good. How did you feel after that? How did you pray during/after that?
- As Christians, what should our motivation be to do good things? Is it to receive good things in return? Take stock of your own motivations for doing good things over the next week. Share the results with other Christians you trust.
- What patterns did you notice from the exercise above? What changes do you think you should make? What does your community say?
You are our Shield and Strength. You are with us in times of trouble; You care for us in our afflictions. Help us to consider our suffering for You all joy, strengthen us through trial, and equip us to do what is right no matter the cost. Amen.
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