We don’t need our why answered we need God. We don’t need to know what God is doing in our suffering, what good he will bring about, we need God. We don’t just need him when the suffering ends but as we sit in the dust and ashes. And we’ve seen in Job that suffering doesn’t separate us from God, God has always been protecting Job and with Job even when it hasn’t felt like it to him. If we have God then every other loss is worth nothing. If we can’t say that yet, we ought to pray for God to open our eyes to who he is like he did for Job.
What do you long for when you suffer? It’s an end to the pain. It’s what we tell people when they face operations – it’ll hurt for a while but then be better, it’s what we hope for when we take someone to get treatment for an injury – something that will take the pain away and bring healing. It’s what we tell people when they grieve or suffer a relationship loss – that the pain fades over time. It’s one of the reasons why I think we find it hard to know how to help those with mental health struggles – because we know that this may be a long term need, with many dark nights of the soul.
And all too often relationship with God is postponed until afterwards. We’ll think about God when we feel better, are in a better place, have more capacity. But Job shows us how wrong that is, that we’re missing something. Job is in a world of agony, he’s lost not one but all of his children, his wealth, he’s covered with sores and hovers near death, wracked with grief and all he has left is a wife who calls him to curse God and die and friends whose comfort only deepens his confusion, questions and isolation.
That’s where Job is as chapter 42 opens. He hasn’t been restored he‘s still stripped of everything. Still has nothing. That makes his words here all the more amazing. He’s comforted before he is restored – we must see that. This is comfort in suffering not comfort from or after suffering. This is the kind of comfort we need, our friends need, in the white hot heat, or pitch black oppressive darkness, of suffering.
God has just drawn Job’s attention to the two chaos monsters we looked at last week. Behemoth and Leviathan, savage, uncontrollable, forces of evil and chaos that man cannot tame. But who as created supernatural beings are on God’s leash, under his sovereignty, only permitted to do what God allows and who will ultimately be destroyed by him.
How does Job react? (1-3)Firstly, Job confesses God’s absolutely sovereignty and might. Back in ch38v2 God asked Job “Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?” Now Job confesses that he was wrong, he spoke from what he knew and could see but “I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”
It’s always tempting to think we know what’s going on. To look at the world and see what we can see and draw conclusions from it. And so to assume it tells us about God, his love, his actions, his sovereignty or lack of it. But Job confesses that as he did that he was hopelessly short sighted. He couldn’t see God’s care of creation, he couldn’t see eternity and God’s plans, and it wasn’t immediately obvious to him that God was sovereign but now he knows. “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
This morning, are you ready to confess that? Ready to say to God; Lord I have been wrong. Lord you are the almighty sovereign ruler who is just and does what’s right, who governs creation wisely and rightly and does things I just cannot comprehend, I cannot see it all, but I know enough of you and your goodness and love and so I will trust in you not in what I see or what I think?
But Job isn’t finished because he’s learned something else(4-5), that he had a limited grasp of God.