One of suffering’s worst torments is the memory of happier days. One of life’s biggest mistakes is the thought that the good things we’re currently enjoying will always be there. But life is uncertain. Nothing is guaranteed, apart from the constant presence of God’s grace. That grace, though, does not always manifest itself is a trouble-free life. Far from it. Now all Job has of the material and this-worldly blessings God showered upon him are the memories of them. That is so much anguish for Job.
These two chapters are a study in the contrast of Job’s life, past and present. First he remembers the good times, in ch.29, “when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house” (v.4). Job had plenty: the Presence of God, the respect of others, the opportunity of serving the needy in the community, and the comforts of feeling that none of it would never end. “I dwelt as a king among his troops” (v.25).
But now? Ch. 30 spells out his wretched life is: mockery, hatred, fear, illness, degradation, unanswered prayers, loneliness. “I have become a brother of jackals, a companion of owls” (v.29). He has nothing.
What worst of all in Job’s life, then? It’s his own feelings about all he has lost. His anguish about his privations gives the bitter sting to his miseries. Yes, he’s always known that life is short and uncertain: “naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall depart” (Jb. 1.20). Now, he has time to see and feel all of suffering’s indignities. And it’s all wretched.
Man of sorrows? That is who Job is. Remember another Man of Sorrows. He never ever complained about how the Lord dealt with Him, but he underwent every imaginable suffering, womb to tomb, and heaven to hell. Because of Him, and His abandonment, we are never alone, not ever. We may know our share of anguish and loss; but His Presence, whether felt or not, is a treasure no believer will ever forfeit. Sometimes God uses the worst of suffering to bring this, the best of truths, home to us.
A Prayer to Pray
Lord, I have to confess that I am scared of suffering. Lord, left to myself I would rather have the comforts of life wrapped tightly round me than the lonely road of fellowship with you in my losses. Father, give me a deepening confidence in Your goodness and care, and a more willing heart, should you remove my treasures, to seek with more confidence the treasure of Your love in Christ. Amen.