Job 19:21–22: “Pity me, pity me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has struck me. Why do you persecute me as God does?”
Observation: Job’s friends had repeatedly sought to convince him that his painful circumstances were due to some failure or sin on Job’s part. Seeing Job down, they have “piled on” with relish, looking for every possible shortcoming in their beleaguered friend. But Job called them to account for their fair-weather friendship and for their ignorance of the ways of God. “Pity me, pity me, O my friends, for the hand of God has struck me. Why do you persecute me as God does?” In this, Job rightly assessed both the Source of his suffering and the error of his friends. He correctly identified God as the author of his pain, and in labeling his friends’ behavior as persecution he called it about right.
Application: Like me, Job struggled with the “whys” of God, but he was under no illusion that God is the “who.” And notice this: Job never questioned God’s right to do with him as He wished regardless of the depths of Job’s ensuing pain. But the really baffling behavior, both to Job and to me, was that of his friends. Where did they get license to continue badgering him with false accusations when their friend was so miserable? What darkness in their own hearts could lead them to assume the worst about Job? Why would supposed friends kick a man who was already down?
More to the point, have I behaved thus, assuming the worst, accepting rumor as fact, and adjusting relationships accordingly? When my friend needed mercy and grace rather than analysis, have I been quick to extend them? To realize the utter loneliness of Job is overwhelming; his abandonment was now complete. Yet see how hope arose in a heart set on loving God: just three verses later his words fairly soar off the page as he declared, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives!” What a powerful expression of faith and confidence in the living God! Job contemplated the coming salvation of God and was stunned by the thought. The entire struggle will be worth it to see Him face to face, to experience the fulness of His embrace. Job’s eyes, like Paul’s, remained fixed upon the prize. His every fiber strained toward the upward call of Christ, into that place of perfect peace (see Phil. 3:14).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep my eyes fixed upon the goal. Keep my mind and heart focused beyond the hard things in my path today. You are worth it! Your approving gaze motivates me, Lord; it stirs me to keep running the race You have called me to.