October 11, 2021
Tennessee Valley District
Job 26:1-14 (NIV)26 Then Job replied:
2 “How you have helped the powerless!
How you have saved the arm that is feeble!
3 What advice you have offered to one without wisdom!
And what great insight you have displayed!
4 Who has helped you utter these words?
And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?
5 “The dead are in deep anguish,
those beneath the waters and all that live in them.
6 The realm of the dead is naked before God;
Destruction[a] lies uncovered.
7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;
he suspends the earth over nothing.
8 He wraps up the waters in his clouds,
yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.
9 He covers the face of the full moon,
spreading his clouds over it.
10 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters
for a boundary between light and darkness.
11 The pillars of the heavens quake,
aghast at his rebuke.
12 By his power he churned up the sea;
by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces.
13 By his breath the skies became fair;
his hand pierced the gliding serpent.
14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works;
how faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”
The book of Job is always a challenge for Bible readers. So many conflicting thoughts and emotions overwhelm Job, and he runs the gamut from sad to mad and everything in between. As readers, we of course know the whole story, but Job does not. In this chapter, Job’s friends come to visit him. But instead of offering words of consolation or a listening ear, they offer extravagant praise to God. Job feels disappointed, even annoyed. “What advice you have offered to me without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed!” he says sarcastically. In other words, “You are not helping me or my situation!”
Job experiences what many people who are suffering encounter, that is, friends who wonder if perhaps Job is somehow to blame for his troubles. A bit of back and forth ensues, but Job receives no comfort from his friends’ words. He is willing to praise God in his despair, even though he knows he has done nothing wrong, but he stops one step short of his journey’s end.
In a recent Sunday School class, our speaker talked about his new book titled Saturday Faith: Moving Through the Crisis of Hopelessness. Author Charles Ensminger speaks about the common phrase, “It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming,” referring to Good Friday and Easter. The problem, the author says, is that we sometimes get lost in the “Saturday” of our suffering. As Ensminger says, “For people moving through this particular place of hopelessness, the idea of Sunday is far, far away.”
As we encounter Job in this passage, he is in the Saturday of his suffering. His friends have let him down and have not listened, his suffering seems unending, and Job is asking why. He’s wallowing in his pain. Job has forgotten to trust that God promised never to forsake him. How often do we all do that? It’s much easier to give in to bitterness and sorrow than to truly trust that God knows our pain and to understand that sometimes pain can be part of the path to healing. We forget that it’s only Saturday, that God is still there beside us, and that Saturday is not where the story ends.