The Key Difference

Job 30:20 “I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.”

Observation: There are two elements to Job’s lament in chapter 30. First is a comparison of his present devastation with his former life. In the previous chapter he recounted the honor he had among his fellows and how quick he had been to help the needy. Later, though, they taunted and abhorred him and stood aloof.  The second and more dominant element of Job 30 is his honest assessment of how utterly horrible his life is. There are  no more comparisons to his former life or to other men. Simply, he is hurting in every way imaginable. Worst of all, he cannot hear God’s voice no matter the depths of his anguished cries.

Application: As I think about Job, at least part of my tragic view of him flows from the perceived uniqueness of his suffering. To have lost everything:  children, wealth, respect, health (everything, that is, except a bitter, critical wife!), his loss is greater than the mind can conceive. But perhaps I resist honestly considering familiar parallels.

Do I not have burned within my mind the images of others who live similarly to Job? The crushed earthquake survivor who will revive only to learn all has been lost, the child running naked from her village ahead of napalming…are these not representative of countless millions around the world who live similarly? (But in God there is no such thing as “countless” millions, is there? He does indeed count.)

They must choose, as I must, how I will view God in the midst of life’s devastation. But always remember: there is One who lost even more. And the great tragedy is, He was the sinless one. In His loss, heaven itself was forfeited. Perfect union with the Father was willingly surrendered. He was so brutalized that passersby could only wonder if that mass of blood and flesh had once been human. But in all of history’s suffering, this One was unique. The key difference is that He volunteered for His torment. Isaiah tells me that He turned His face toward His tormenters so they could rip more handfuls of beard and flesh from His face (see Isa. 50:6). Job may wonder why. The earthquake survivor and the napalm victim may mourn for the rest of their days. I, too, may struggle to understand God’s purposes. But this One willingly laid down His life; He knew exactly what He was doing. He had a strategy, a plan. His suffering was for love. How willing am I to identify with Him in that?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You ask me to willingly take on Your attributes, which include loss of all that is dear, for the goal of a greater prize. Find me willing, O Lord. As best I know how, I lay down my rights, my pride, even life itself, to become more like You.

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