As we reach Job 31, Job calls on God to weigh him in the scales of justice. He’s asking for his day in court with God the Judge.
Philip Yancey makes some very important observations about Job here, from his most helpful book on suffering, silence, and inaction of God: Disappointment with God.
Here I’m quoting at length some portions of the book where Yancey makes some crucial points related to the story of Job.
“I have come to see Job’s trials as a crucial test of human freedom, an important issue in modern times as well. In our century, it takes faith to believe that a human being amounts to more than a combination of DNA programming, instincts of the gene pool, cultural conditioning, and the impersonal forces of history. Yet even in this behaviorist century, we want to believe differently. We want to believe that the thousand hard and easy choices we make each day somehow count. And the Book of Job insists that they do; one person’s faith can make a difference. There is a role for human beings, after all, and by fulfilling that role Job set a pattern for anyone who ever faces doubt or hardship.”
“Very often, disappointment with God begins in Job-like circumstances. The death of a child, a tragic accident, or a loss of job may bring on the same questions Job asked. Why me? What does God have against me? Why does he seem so distant? As readers of Job’s story, we can see behind the curtain to a contest being waged in the invisible world. But in our own trials, we will not have such insight. When tragedy strikes, we will live in shadow, unaware of what is transpiring in the unseen world. The drama that Job lived through will then replicate itself in our individual lives. Once again, God will let his reputation ride on the response of unpredictable human beings.”
“In short, God has granted to ordinary men and women the dignity of participating in the Great Reversal which will restore the cosmos to its pristine state. All the reasons for disappointment with God that I have mentioned in this book, as well as all cancers, all deaths, all broken relationships, all the collected groanings of our savage planet—all these imperfections will be wiped away. We may at times question God’s wisdom and lose patience with his timetable. (The disciples, after all, felt bitter disappointment when Jesus rejected their dream of a physical kingdom in favor of an invisible, spiritual kingdom.) But all the prophets’ lavish promises will someday come true, and we, you and I, are the ones selected to help bring that about.”
“No one has expressed the pain and unfairness of this world more poignantly than Job; no one has voiced disappointment with God more passionately. We must still attend to Job’s complaints and to God’s fierce response. But the Book of Job begins not with the complaints—the human viewpoint—but with God’s point of view. In the prologue, the scene of The Wager establishes a darkly shining truth: Job—and you and I—can join the struggle to reverse all that is wrong with the universe. We can make a difference.”
“The Book of Job gives no satisfying answers to the question “Why?” Instead, it substitutes another question, “To what end?” By remaining faithful to God through his trials Job, crotchety, sardonic old Job, helped abolish the very pain and unfairness of this world that he had protested so vigorously. And Meg Woodson, who stubbornly clings to God’s love in the shadows, even after watching two children die . . . she too is helping to reverse those wrongs.”
“He holds back for our sakes. Re-creation involves us; we are, in fact, at the center of his plan. The Wager, the motive behind all human history, is to develop us, not God. Our very existence announces to the powers in the universe that restoration is under way. Every act of faith by every one of the people of God is like the tolling of a bell, and a faith like Job’s reverberates throughout the universe.”
Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God
Yancey helps us with today’s next step about trusting God.
“But the more important battle, as shown in Job, takes place inside us. Will we trust God? Job teaches that at the moment when faith is hardest and least likely, then faith is most needed. His struggle presents a glimpse of what the Bible elsewhere spells out in detail: the remarkable truth that our choices matter, not just to us and our own destiny but, amazingly, to God himself and the universe he rules.”
Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God
God, help me trust you when faith in you is the hardest, no matter what.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. Greg’s wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.