(Today's post by James Rooks)
The past couple of days we have seen chapters alternating between Job's friends 'figuring' out Job's situation and Job's response. Today, Zophar takes a shot at nailing down Job's woes. Zophar lays it out quite eloquently, yet insensitively, and basically says a good man would've had God's attention by now.
“For He knows false men, And He sees iniquity without investigating. An idiot will become intelligent When the foal of a wild donkey is born a man. If you would direct your heart right And spread out your hand to Him, If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, And do not let wickedness dwell in your tents; Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral defect, And you would be steadfast and not fear. For you would forget your trouble, As waters that have passed by, you would remember it. Your life would be brighter than noonday; Darkness would be like the morning.” – Job 11:11-17 NASB
I wouldn't place Zophar's spiritual gifting under the category of encouragement. Misplaced admonishment? Yes, he's definitely the man for that job. I can appreciate Job's rebuttal. The fact that he kept it together during this exchange is pretty amazing. For most grown men, being called a fool while in the middle of your life's largest calamity would have been enough to escalate the conversation to fisticuffs.
The point for Job is that he continued to focus on what he knew to be true about God. He continued to focus on the attributes of God and His character. This leads into the main idea of today's blog. When tragedy hits, sometimes it comes like a lightning strike and sometimes it comes in waves (like it did with Job). Where our hearts and minds are tethered will dictate in many cases our perspective. Proper perspective won't prevent us from getting scars. It won't turn the tide of pain (physical or emotional) while under attack. Perspective won't even cause friends like Zophar to get his head on straight and stand with us instead of judging us. What it will do is give us a proper view of God which in turn will give us a proper view of life and our circumstances. I think about Zophar's words in the passage of Job 11. He was convinced that if Job got right with God, things would get better, and his life would be better again. Now, don't get me wrong. There are plenty of calamities that people bring on themselves by poor decisions, sin, etc… As a Christian brother, it is part of our role in discipleship to work to reconcile those who are in sin back to God and to allow others to call sin out in our lives as well.
But what about when, in a situation like Job, something bad just happens, and there was nothing we could have done to prevent it? What if we pray and pray but nothing happens? What does that do for Zophar's theology? Did God ever promise that this life would be full of success and comfort as long as we do good? No. In fact Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NIV
If this life is all there is, then Job has some big problems. To measure his life based on how things had worked out for him up to this point, you easily say that his life is a disaster. Look at Job's focus though in chapter 12 compared to Zophar's in chapter 11. One measured life, and God for that matter, on how things were going. Job must not have been measuring up; otherwise, good things would be happening. That's what God does, right? Try explaining that one to everyone who's lost a loved one after begging for their healing. Look at how Job's outlook is totally different. Through all this and even through the ignorance of a friend, Job still pointed to God's character. I have to think that Job's eyes were Heavenward and not on things of this world. I think about how David felt after losing his son in 2 Samuel 12:23 NIV “Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” David, just like Job, had his focus on home.
If Jesus' words are true, and they are…then we can't look to this world or the circumstances of this life to fulfill us. We can't even always use our circumstances as a measuring stick for how good we are. Sometimes the very good that we do is what gets us persecuted or attacked by the enemy. The only hope that we have is in a home that is not of this earth. A home where things are set right. One where there is justice, peace, and health. For the believer, we have this hope. Whether life brings us wealth or poverty, health or sickness, peace or strife, we can all keep our focus on Him. In Him we all have the same hope.
So men, where are you placing your hope today?
All of my life, in every season,
You are still God, I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship
-Desert Song, Hillsong United
Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17, 18 NASB)