Usefulness

Job 42:10a “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again…”

Observation: Job had finally come to the end of himself. Admitting that he had spoken “of things (he) did not understand, things too wonderful for (him) to know,” (v. 3) he concluded, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (v. 6) God then turned His attention to Job’s critical friends and told them Job would pray for them and that He would accept Job’s prayer and not deal with them according to their folly. Once his friends humbled themselves before Job and received his prayers, the Lord made Job prosperous again.

Application: Verse 10 continues by saying that the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. I wonder: Is the point of this passage to show me a pathway to prosperity? It may seem so; after all, wasn’t that the result? But have I really waded through forty-two long chapters waiting for Job to find just the right pitch of intercessory fervency that his fortunes might be restored? Perish the thought! Job has no “if-then” promise held before him…no suggestion that if he did the thing God wanted in just the right way, then he would prosper. Indeed, the blessing God promised wasn’t Job’s at all. It was instead a commitment to flood Job’s friends with grace, not Job himself.

At the end of this very long book of suffering and trials, Job had finally come to the place of worshiping God in the midst of travail, rather than with a view toward being delivered from it. He had reached such a point of submission that he could finally be useful to God by praying for now-repentant friends. Even in praying, though, it wasn’t for Job’s sake that his friends were to be forgiven; God said in advance of the prayer that He would accept Job’s prayer. Whatever Job prayed was going to be fine with God.

The passage contains nary a hint of the content of Job’s prayer. But we know it wasn’t necessary for him to gin up a certain fervor, or to achieve soaring eloquence or sufficient volume or to emote just so. Job, this instrument of God who had been pressed and stressed, crushed and humiliated ‘til he had no more thought to claim his “rights”, was finally the perfect vessel to minister release to his captive friends. In this moment, the story is clearly not about Job; he could neither see nor imagine the coming blessings of God. He simply repented, and in that repentance found his own full acceptance by God.

What is my motivation when I pray? It is only when I come to the end of myself that God finds me a useful instrument in any circumstance he chooses.

Prayer: Father, cause me to become like Your servant Job, not anticipating ever greater benefits from my commitment to You, but simply yielding. Let me see the cross of Christ afresh, so I might identity more completely with Him.

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