Grace Under Fire
Day: 22 | Plan: Suffering and Sovereignty
Today’s Reading: Job 22
Job 22:21-23a (NIV) “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored.”
We are now into round three of the great debate between Job and his friends, and the gloves are off. What should have been a comforting and encouraging discussion among friends has turned to an angry, painful debate. The more the debate rages, the more obstinate and prideful his friends get.
In this final round, Eliphaz is blunt as he accuses Job of great wickedness and sin, like self-righteousness, abuse of power and taking advantage of the most vulnerable in society. (Job 22:4-9) Eliphaz claims Job’s suffering is a direct result of sin, and since Job’s suffering is so great, his sin must be great. The conclusion: It’s no surprise God is punishing Job.
Eliphaz goes on to argue that Job would receive prosperity, wealth and blessing if he would just return to the Almighty. Eliphaz aggressively pushes Job to be penitent and submit. Submit in this verse means to agree with God about your sin and come to terms with Him.
Eliphaz tells Job to yield to God, repent and receive peace. In doing so, Job will be restored and delight in God’s presence. (Job 22:26) Plus, God will hear Job’s prayers. (Job 22:27) That sounds logical and contains some truth.
God does want people to turn away from sin and back to Him in humble repentance.
God does bless the penitent with a right relationship with Him.
What’s the problem?
First of all, Job is already penitent and walking in integrity. From the very beginning, God Himself affirms Job’s unmatched integrity. (Job 1:1; Job 1:8; Job 2:3) We also learn it’s a regular habit of Job’s life to offer the appropriate sacrifice for sin. Job is a person who keeps short accounts of sin before the Lord and seeks His forgiveness frequently, even for unintentional sins. (Job 1:5, 21) We know Job’s suffering is not a result of some secret or hidden sin even though his friends insist it is. (Job 1:22)
Throughout the book, Job maintains his integrity and trusts God. He doesn’t turn away but continues to seek Him. Job’s character is intact, and yet Job is experiencing unexplainable darkness and pain.
On the surface, Eliphaz’s language of repentance sounds like a gracious invitation, but it’s not. It is an unfounded accusation. Eliphaz has erected a sandcastle full of lies against Job founded on a mass of twisted information.
But Job continues to exhibit a tremendous amount of self-control as his friend rips him apart with his words. Critical, cutting and careless words.
Careless words are never lightly spoken. They often cut straight to the heart and inflict deep wounds. It’s so hard to sit there and take it when everything that’s being said about you is not true and your integrity is attacked.
Job models for us what grace under fire looks like when others wound us with their words.
- Job perseveres under pressure.
- Job never lets the unsubstantiated criticism of his character discourage or derail him from seeking God.
Then, as we will see, when Job breaks his silence he talks about God … and he talks to God. What a response! Personally, I’m challenged by Job’s response and desperately want to model it in my life. His self-control, trust, integrity and perseverance in seeking God astound me. Oh, to have the wisdom and skill to wait and then humbly turn a hurtful conversation back to the Lord. (Job 23:3-7)
Have you been wounded by the words of others? Has someone made an unfounded accusation against you or criticized your character?
We live in a world where careless words abound and criticism is plentiful. Today, may we be mindful of our words and may God grant us the wisdom and grace to keep our gaze fixed on Him when others wound us with their words.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I have wounded others with my careless words. I pray You would set a guard over my mouth and quickly convict me of any criticism that might seep out. I admit the hurtful words of others can quickly derail my heart from seeking You. Lord, would You help me and enable me with the strength I need to follow Job’s example to exhibit grace under fire. Please grant me the wisdom and skill to humbly turn my attention and the conversation back to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Have you ever considered that one of the reasons Job is suffering is to silence... Read More
Download the First 5 app to get the full experience