Introduction: Here, Job described the reversal of his fortunes after his trials began. His life of honor and plenty turned into a life of rejection and pain. He could not understand the reasons for his downfall and suffering because he lacked the benefit of God’s Word to find comfort during his trials. Thankfully, you don’t need to suffer the same uncertainties. When you experience a trial, Jesus offers you His: (1) comfort / love, (2) encouragement / strength, (3) sovereignty, (4) answered prayers, (5) the hope of eternal life, (6) justice / fairness, and (7) your deliverance.
First, Job lamented that he had gone from a place of respect to being publicly shamed and rejected. When the world rejects you in your time of pain, Jesus offers His comfort and love. Second, Job also lamented that his enemies had assaulted him, driven him from his town and tried to destroy him. When you feel beaten down or defeated and you call out to Him, Jesus offers to encourage and strengthen you. Third, Job sadly lashed out at God for the suffering that he endured. He failed to understand that God had a greater purpose in his trials. Jesus is sovereign, and He uses our trials for His greater good. Fourth, Job expressed his belief that God had abandoned him and would not hear his prayers. Contrary to what Job believed, Jesus can answer your prayers when you pray properly. Fifth, Job believed that he would die soon with no hope of restoration after death. Also contrary to Job’s misunderstandings, Jesus offers you the hope of an eternal life with Him. Sixth, Job incorrectly believed that God was unfair and had rewarded his good acts with evil. Job again lacked the assurance of God’s Word. Jesus wants you to trust Him that He will be just and fair in rewarding your actions either on Earth or in heaven. Finally, Job viewed God as the author of his pain and suffering. Job again lacked the assurances of God’s Word. If you suffer, it is part of God’s greater plan for you. Yet, when you do suffer, Jesus wants you to cry out for His deliverance.
Job became the victim of public shame. After describing the honor and respect that he received before his trials, Job then described the shame and ridicule that he experienced: “1 But now those who are younger than I mock me, whose fathers I refused to put with the dogs of my flock. 2 Indeed, what good was the strength of their hands to me? Vigor had perished from them. 3 From poverty and famine they are gaunt, they who gnaw at the dry ground by night in waste and desolation, 4 who pluck saltweed by the bushes, and whose food is the root of the broom shrub. 5 They are driven from the community; they shout against them as against a thief, 6 so that they live on the slopes of ravines, in holes in the ground and among the rocks. 7 Among the bushes they cry out; under the weeds they are gathered together. 8 Worthless fellows, even those without a name, they were cast out from the land.” (Job 30:1-8). In Job’s culture, dogs were viewed as disgusting animals (cf., 2 Sam. 16:9; 2 Kgs. 8:13; Phil. 3:2; Rev. 22:15). At this point, he was viewed no better than a dog (Job 30:1). As one commentator observes: “The contrast is now completed. Having drawn the portrait of himself as he was, rich, honored, blessed with children, flourishing, in favor with both God and man, Job now presents himself to us as he is, despised of men (vers. 1-10), afflicted of God (ver. 11), a prey to vague terrors (ver. 15), tortured with bodily pains (vers. 17, 18), cast off by God (vers. 19, 20), with nothing but death to look for (vers. 23-31). The chapter is the most touching in the whole book. Verse 1 . . . Men who are outcasts and solitary themselves, poor dwellers in caves (ver. 6), who have much ado to keep body and soul together (vers. 3, 4), and not men only but youths, mere boys, scoff at him, make him a song and a byword (ver. 9). nay, ‘spare not to spit in his face’ (ver. 10). There seem to have been in his vicinity weak and debased tribes, generally contemned and looked down upon, regarded as thieves (ver. 5) by their neighbors, and considered to be of base and vile origin (ver. 8), who saw in Job’s calamities a rare opportunity for insulting and triumphing over a member of the superior race which had crushed them, and thus tasting, to a certain extent, the sweetness of revenge.” (Pulpit Commentary on Job 30).1
Job was driven from his community and rejected by everyone2
Job lost the respect of everyone around him. The only limitation that God placed on Satan was that he could not take Job’s life (Job 2:6). Satan had already turned Job’s wife against him (Job 2:9). Satan then also turned all of society against him (Job 30:10). “Mockers are certainly with me, and my eye gazes on their provocation . . . But He has made me a proverb among the people, and I am one at whom people spit.” (Job 17:2, 6). “All my associates loathe me, and those I love have turned against me. . . My relatives have failed, and my close friends have forgotten me. . . “He has removed my brothers far from me, and my acquaintances have completely turned away from me. All my associates loathe me, and those I love have turned against me.” (Job 19:9,13-14, 19). Satan then turned Job’s last friends against him: “4 I am a joke to my friends, the one who called on God and He answered him; the just and blameless man is a joke. 5 He who is at ease holds disaster in contempt, as prepared for those whose feet slip.” (Job 12:4-5). Satan alleged that Job would turn against God after Job lost all of his blessings. Although Job complained to God, he never cursed God as Satan hoped he would.
The psalmist and Jesus were also subject to public ridicule. The psalmist also complained to God that he felt a similar feeling of public shame and isolation: “But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered themselves together; the afflicted people whom I did not know gathered together against me, they slandered me without ceasing.” (Ps. 34:15). “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Ps. 41:9). “You have removed my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an object of loathing to them; I am shut up and cannot go out.” (Ps. 88:8). “They have heard that I groan; there is no one to comfort me, all my enemies have heard of my disaster; they are joyful that You have done it. Oh, that You would bring the day which You have proclaimed, so that they will become like me.” (Lam. 1:21). Jesus was also mocked when He stated that a girl believed to be dead was only asleep before He healed her (Matt. 9:24; Mk. 5:40). The soldiers also mocked Jesus when they beat Him (Matt. 27:29), and the chief priests mocked Him as well (Matt. 27:41).
Jesus offers you His compassion and love. When the world turns against you, Jesus offers you His comfort and love: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). “But God, who comforts the discouraged, comforted us by the arrival of Titus;” (2 Cor. 7:6). “I, I Myself, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of mortal man, and of a son of man who is made like grass,” (Is. 51:12). Are you crying out to Jesus for comfort?
Job’s enemies assaulted him, expelled him, and they tried to destroy him. Not content to publicly ridicule Job, his enemies spat on him and expelled him from his former home: “9 And now I have become their taunt, and I have become a byword to them. 10 They loathe me and stand aloof from me, and they do not refrain from spitting in my face. 11 Because He has undone my bowstring and afflicted me, they have cast off the bridle before me. 12 On the right hand their mob arises; they push aside my feet and pile up their ways of destruction against me. 13 They break up my path, they promote my destruction; no one restrains them. 14 As through a wide gap they come, amid the storm they roll on. 15 Sudden terrors are turned upon me; they chase away my dignity like the wind, and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud.” (Job 30:9-15). Job once lived in a city where he judged disputes (Job 29:7). He further held a place of high honor within his community. But his scoffers then assaulted him, spat on him, and they drove him away. “They have gaped at me with their mouths, they have slapped me on the cheek with contempt; they have massed themselves against me. God hands me over to criminals, and tosses me into the hands of the wicked.” (Job 16:10-11). Possibly believing that Job carried some disease, Job may have been quarantined at the town dump. Thus, Job’s friends found him sitting alone on a pile of ashes (Job 2:7). When he needed comfort and encouragement, his friends only further attacked him.
Job unfairly became the victim of public shame, ridicule, and attacks3
Jesus was also falsely attacked. Not having committed any crime, Jesus was also assaulted, spat on, beaten, and He was handed over to His enemies: “From that time Jesus began to point out to His disciples that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem and to suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and to be killed, and to be raised up on the third day.” (Matt. 16:21). “and they will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and flog and crucify, and on the third day He will be raised up.” (Matt. 20:19). Jesus suffered this humiliation to let you know that He knows your pain as well.
Jesus offers you comfort in your times of distress. When you feel attacked like Job, Jesus offers to comfort you: “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” (2 Cor. 1:5). He can also strengthen you in your time of need: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13). “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,” (1 Tim. 1:12). “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self,” (Eph. 3:16). If you are in need of comfort or strength, are you turning to Jesus? Or, if God has placed others around you who are in need, are you pointing them to Jesus?
Encourage one another with love in times of distress. Even if Job had sinned, his friends should have employed love and encouragement to bring Job to a better place. God wants you to be a source of encouragement to others. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. 3:13). “But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.” (Heb. 13:22). Will you encourage others the way God is there for you?
Job believed that God had unfairly brought him suffering. Although celebrated for his faith, Job faltered in his trials and lashed out at God for the suffering that he endured: “16 And now my soul is poured out within me; days of misery have seized me. 17 At night it pierces my bones within me, and my gnawing pains do not rest. 18 By a great force my garment is distorted; it ties me up like the collar of my coat. 19 He has thrown me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes.” (Job 30:16-19). While verses 16 through 18 failed to identify the source of Job’s misery, Job identified God as the author of his misery in verse 19 through the pronoun “He.” Job incorrectly believed that God viewed him as an enemy, and he believed that God had decided to oppress and harm him.
Job lamented his incorrect belief that God did not hear him and was allegedly unfair. Job had complained on a number of occasions his incorrect belief that God viewed him as an enemy and had therefore oppressed him: “Know then that God has wronged me and has surrounded me with His net.” (Job 19:6). “Why do you persecute me as God does, and are not satisfied with my flesh?” (Job 19:22). “The earth is handed over to the wicked; He covers the faces of its judges. If it is not He, then who is it?” (Job 9:24). “Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has shut off?” (Job 3:23). “Behold, He tears down, and it cannot be rebuilt; He imprisons a person, and there is no release.” (Job 12:14). “Why do You hide Your face and consider me Your enemy?” (Job 13:24). “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope.” (Job 7:6). “God hands me over to criminals, and tosses me into the hands of the wicked.” (Job 16:11). “Why do the wicked still live, grow old, and also become very powerful?” (Job 21:7). Because he failed to understand that trials can happen for reasons unrelated to sin, Job concluded that God had unfairly and mistakenly judged him for a sin. Job would learn that sometimes bad things can happen to good people. God’s plans for each of us are sometimes greater than our ability to understand.
God causes all of your trials to work together for good. Job failed to understand that his trials served a greater purpose: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Ro. 8:28). When you go through a trial, God wants you to trust in His perfect plans for you.
Other men of God cried out to God to question His plans for them. Job was not the only person of faith to incorrectly believe that God had turned against them: “How long, LORD, have I called for help, and You do not hear? I cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ Yet You do not save.” (Habakkuk 1:2). “How long am I to feel anxious in my soul, with grief in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” (Ps. 13:3). “I will say to God my rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?’” (Ps. 42:9). “A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my help are the words of my groaning.” (Ps. 22:1b). God knows your thoughts. Even when you labor under incorrect or false beliefs, God wants you to pour out your anguish and hurt to Him.
Don’t attempt to discern God’s will merely through your personal circumstances. Like Job, many believers today attempt to discern God’s will merely by looking to whether they are well off in things like work, money, family, friends, or health. If you lose your job, your health, or if your relationships suffer, don’t make the same mistake as Job in assuming that God is angry with you. Instead, pray for God’s guidance.
Job’s belief that God had abandoned him and would not hear his cries for help. Job felt that he could have endured his trials if God had not abandoned him: “20 I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.” (Job 30:20). “This was the worst aspect of Job’s suffering, the sense that God had forsaken him. He undeniably felt that God was against him . . . Indeed, Job felt that God wanted to and would destroy him.” (David Guzik on Job 30) (Italics in original).4
Job pleaded for God to end His observations and scrutiny. Job complained that God had “turn[ed] [His] attention against me.” (Job 30:22). Job had previously complained that God’s watchful eyes had allegedly become his curse: “19 Will You never turn Your gaze away from me, nor leave me alone until I swallow my spittle?” (Job 7:19). Job believed that he could find temporary rest if only God would look away for a moment: “He will not allow me to get my breath, but He saturates me with bitterness.” (Job 9:8).
Job was incorrect to view God’s watchful eyes as a curse. The psalmists later quoted Job’s statements to reach an entirely different and correct conclusion about God’s love: “What is man that You think of him, and a son of man that You are concerned about him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!” (Ps. 8:4-5). “LORD, what is man, that You look after him? Or a son of man, that You think of him?” (Ps. 144:3). You can also praise God that He is constantly watching over you. No harm can come to you that He has not permitted for His plans.
The effective fervent prayer of the righteous can accomplish great things. Although Job lacked the benefit of God’s Word, God later made clear that those who pray in faith and confess their sins can accomplish great things through Him: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (Ja. 5:16). In a similar way, God heard Elijah’s prayers to both stop and later restart the rain in Israel (Ja. 5:17-18). God also heard Hezekiah’s prayers when he prayed for His intervention (2 Kgs. 19:20). God also wants you to pray fervently to Him to intervene when you need deliverance. “Let my cry come before You, LORD; give me understanding according to Your word.” (Ps. 119:169). “In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.” (Ps. 18:6). When you are going through a trial, are you crying out to God for guidance?
Job’s belief that God was persecuting him and would soon kill him. Job’s physical ailments had become so intense that Job was convinced that God would soon kill him: “21 You have become cruel to me; with the strength of Your hand You persecute me. 22 You lift me up to the wind and make me ride it; and You dissolve me in a storm. 23 For I know that You will bring me to death, and to the house of meeting for all living.” (Job 30:21-23). One commentator observes that “Job perceived God as an enemy rather than a friend, as a ‘ruthless’ one rather than a merciful one. This complaint too has been on his lips several times before (10:3; 16:9, 14; 19:22). Instead of using ‘the might of your hand’ to help, God used it to ‘attack’ him. . . At this point Job was certain that God would let him die. The prayer ends on a note as depressing as any in the book.” (Robert Alden, The New American Commentary, Vol. 11, Job (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 294).
Jesus offers you the hope of eternal life. While Job lacked the benefit of God’s Word, you never need to question God’s plans for you. Jesus does not want any to perish (2 Pet. 3:9). He instead offers the hope of eternal life in heaven: “but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” (2 Tim. 1:10). “to those who by perseverance in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life;” (Ro. 2:7). “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,” (Ro. 12:12). “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” (Heb. 10:36). Thus, you have many reasons to praise Jesus.
Job questioned God’s fairness and believed that his good was repaid with evil. Because Job believed that God would not allow the righteous to suffer, he believed that God had unfairly repaid his life of faithful service with evil, misery, and darkness: “24 Yet does one in a heap of ruins not reach out with his hand, or in his disaster does he not cry out for help? 25 Have I not wept for the one whose life is hard? Was my soul not grieved for the needy? 26 When I expected good, evil came; when I waited for light, darkness came.” (Job 30:24-26). “These verses complete the contrast with chapter 29. Here Job was in the position of those poor wretches to whom his heart and strength went out in 29:12-17. As a summation of his case, he packed his argument with emotion and righteous indignation. Justice was all on his side. The very benevolence he so freely had dispensed (v.25) he now looked for in vain (v. 26). Verse 26 also reminds us of his expectations in 29:18-29.” (Frank Gaebelein, Elmer Smick, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 987). Job previously asked for death (Job 6:8-10; 14:3). But now he believed that he faced death with God as his alleged enemy. In Job’s mind, gone was the time when God protected him, and when he enjoyed God’s fellowship (Job 29:4-5).
Job previously questioned God’s divine justice. Because he lacked God’s Word, Job previously questioned why he would experience such misery when sinners around him seemed to succeed and thrive: “The earth is handed over to the wicked; He covers the faces of its judges. If it is not He, then who is it?” (Job 9:24). Why do the wicked still live, grow old, and also become very powerful? . . . Their houses are safe from fear, and the rod of God is not on them. His ox mates without fail; His cow calves and does not miscarry.” (Job 21:7, 9-10). The psalmist also made similar complaints: “For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Ps. 73:3).
God is just and fair with everyone. Job was wrong to question God’s fairness. God does not want you to confuse the ultimate with the immediate. God is in fact filled with compassion and divine justice: “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him.” (Is. 30:18). “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23-24). God will eventually right every wrong committed against you and reward your secret good deeds of faith. Are you praising God for His just and righteous character?
Job blamed God for his suffering. Finally, Job complained that God had allegedly brought him unbearable physical and emotional suffering from which he had no escape: “27 I am seething within and cannot rest; days of misery confront me. 28 I go about mourning without comfort; I stand up in the assembly and cry out for help. 29 I have become a brother to jackals, and a companion of ostriches. 30 My skin turns black on me, and my bones burn with fever. 31 Therefore my harp is turned to mourning, and my flute to the sound of those who weep.” (Job 30:27-31). “So here (vv. 27-31) he presented himself to the court as he was his body marred and burning with fever; he himself was exhibit A. As he often did, Job closed the stanza (v. 31) with a strong figure of speech (cf. 29:6, 14, 17, 25, 30:15). His ‘path had been drenched with cream’ (cf. 29:6), now his ‘harp is tuned to mourning and his flute to the sound of wailing.”’ (Gaebelein, Smick, p. 987). Job did not know that Satan had inflicted him with his pain. Thus, he blamed God.
Job lived in constant pain where he could not sleep or find rest from his pain5
Jesus can deliver you. Job again lacked the benefit of God’s Word. God does not want to cause you harm. Whenever you do suffer, it is part of a greater plan (Ro. 8:28). When you do suffer, Jesus wants you to turn to Him for deliverance. For example, Moses faced a Pharaoh with an arrogance and disdain for Yahweh, Moses advised that he would live to see Yahweh’s power (Ex. 8:10). Approximately 80 years later, Moses told the Jews that God allowed them to witness His many miracles in the wilderness so that they would know that He is unique and unlike any other (Dt. 4:35). David also proclaimed God’s unique power (2 Sam. 7:22). With faith in God, even the impossible is possible: “And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’ (Matt. 19:26; Mk. 10:27). When you have faith, Jesus can deliver you from any enemy or trial that you may face. For this reason, He deserves your praise: “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation,” (Ps. 18:46). “The LORD is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed.” (Ps. 28:8). When you are going through a trial, are you crying out for His deliverance?
Let God use your trials to build up your faith. God tested Job so that he would have a deeper understanding and trust in Him. He would learn that not all suffering was a punishment. Your trials should also produce perseverance and endurance (Ro. 5:3; Jam. 1:2-3; 2 Cor. 1:8-10). Are you turning to Jesus to build up your faith during your trials?
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