The Book of Job is worthy of a lifetime of study, yet it is mysterious and unsearchable. For as surely as Job labored to understand the workings of the Divine, he failed. In his desire to comprehend, and declaring his own understanding, he only received unanswerable questions from God designed to illustrate for his benefit the multitude of things he did not know.
Don’t misunderstand me here…it was not God that did not know.
Job was pretty sure of this particular thing, unwisely saying to his unwise friends, Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar, “Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.”
I will not argue with Job on this point, because it seems entirely reasonable. We work, we labor, we earn our livings by the sweat of our brow, we have pain, sickness, suffering, and loss. Job does not seem unwise to declare this in the midst of his suffering.
After much conversation, most of it useless, between Job and his friends, God admonished Job, “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?” This was God talking to Job. God wasn’t finished, either, saying, “Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.”
Job heard a lot more from God than is indicated here. The book of Job is there for you. You can read it for yourself, but here was Job’s answer: “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.” Job finally caught on!
Job, in his renewed wisdom had found the strength to admit that he had no answer. God can certainly get one’s attention.
Job finally said, “Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Face to face with God can change a man. What he thinks he knows is not necessarily what God will show him. Men are stubborn like that. Our self-derived projection of God mostly looks like ourselves, endowed with our own limitations. God is having none of that. He is not required to. He is not us.
In the long run, Job was healed. The losses he endured no doubt left scars. We all have scars. But the final verse of The Book of Job is filled with great promise for all of us: So Job died, being old and full of days. This is glorious!!
Meanwhile, I am just crushed with the knowledge of my underwhelming knowledge. I am crushed with the untimely passing of a friend. At this point, having no useful knowledge, I must rely on grace. Knowledge never did serve men well when dealing with God. He doesn’t think too much of our knowledge. Our knowledge wears like a tuxedo and pair of brown shoes. Our knowledge wears like a Full Cleveland.
“I have that Full Cleveland in a nice polyester,” suggested the sales clerk, “Or would you prefer it in the knitted nylon?”
“No worsted wool?” I asked.
Acting haughty, the clerk rebuffed, “Sir you cannot get a Full Cleveland in something as common as wool. This is all new technology. You can only get it in wrinkle-free, washer friendly synthetic fabric. What do you think this is, an ‘old-timey’ kind of store?”
“I had rather hoped so,” I sighed, not really liking the idea of synthetic cloth. But, I learned that the finest leisure suits are made from it, and a proper Cleveland cannot be made of anything different.
My knowledge is cheap polyester compared to God’s finest, fullerized, worsted wool. We’re better off with His knowledge. While it may not seem to fit like we’d like it, we’d do well to worm ourselves into it the best way we can. We will do well to mold to it rather than expect it to conform to us.
Job! Oh, Job? Where are you now? How is it that your days were full and the days of others are shortened?
“Why ask Job?” the Lord just asked me. “He won’t answer. Besides, I’m right here. I think you have your priorities all wrong.”
“Why, ask Job, indeed,” I chastised myself. I won’t do that again. I promise myself that again and again, but here I am, once more, reminding myself of my own vanity. I’d better pay attention to my own chastisement before I endure the Lord’s, which is worse than my Mama’s ever was.
I just ask that the peace that passes all understanding, the Lord’s peace, be with us, all of us, and that we all look upon each other with a little more kindness and a little less knowledge. Knowledge is like plans put off until tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s plans are today’s vanity.
Thank you for your indulgence.
PS —- Here is a link to the Book of Job…right HERE. Notice the first verse and see if you think you can measure up to what the writer of Job says about Job, Then, notice the 8th verse and see if you can measure up to what the writer of Job says God says about Job. I can declare, with certain knowledge that God never said this about me. It is better than even odds that he never said this about you, either. Thank goodness for grace!
After the sweat and the tears, we are borne home on the wings of angels, and our bodies nourish the earth, returning to the dust from whence they were formed.
When the Angels Have Taken Me Home – A song of mine. Recorded live in California in 2013. Piper Sharp Lauderdale, Sara Winge, Bob Applebaum, Mayne Smith, Markie Sanders, and Blaine Sprouse.
©2014 Mississippi Chris Sharp