Job 19:17-19; 25-27
17 My breath is repulsive to my wife; I am loathsome to my brothers. 18 Even youngsters have scorned me; when I get up, they scoff at me. 19 All my closest friends detest me; and those whom I love have turned against me. 25 As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, 27 whom I will see for myself, and whom my own eyes will behold, and not another. My heart grows faint within me.
Job 20:5-11, 15, 26-29
20:5 “The elation of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. 6 Even though his stature reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, 7 he will perish forever, like his own excrement; those who used to see him will say, ‘Where is he?’ 8 Like a dream he flies away, never again to be found, and like a vision of the night he is put to flight. 9 People who had seen him will not see him again, and the place where he was will recognize him no longer. 10 His sons must recompense the poor; his own hands must return his wealth. 11 His bones were full of his youthful vigor, but that vigor will lie down with him in the dust. 15 The wealth that he consumed he vomits up, God will make him throw it out of his stomach. 26 Total darkness waits to receive his treasures; a fire which has not been kindled will consume him and devour what is left in his tent. 27 The heavens reveal his iniquity; the earth rises up against him. 28 A flood will carry off his house, rushing waters on the day of God’s wrath. 29 Such is the lot God allots the wicked,and the heritage of his appointment from God.”
The here and now is powerful. Our senses are keenly aware of our current joys and sufferings. The status we hold before men contributes to our condition, unless we catch a glimpse of God.
I suppose many folks like to avoid the book of Job. While it is painful to read of his suffering and God’s hand in it, the book of Job has become an incredible comfort to me. Here we see the comparison of a righteous man, suffering greatly and quite unpopular, to a wicked person who is popular and prospering. Talk about afflicted. Job is covered head to toe with sores, his children are no more, his wife suggests he curse God and die – and gee whiz, even Job’s breath stinks. If we were to be honest, we probably would not want to hang out with him, either, and toast marshmallows.
Job is honest about his condition. He does not sugar coat it and say shallow religious statements. He is transparent and genuine – sometimes folks do not like that. It is far easier to condemn someone who is stricken – they must have some blame for their punishment, right?
But in the midst of that very dark place, Job rises from the ashes and proclaims that his greatest joy is his hope in God. He will see him. He is confident of this. He might not understand why God allowed all this turmoil, but he recognizes that this temporary suffering will one day end. The lack of discomfort is not his joy – sure, he will not mind being restored, but it is finally seeing His God in his flesh, that gives him the strength to walk through the dark valleys.
Who is this God that Job looks to? His Redeemer. The One who takes terrible situations and redeems them. Job knew this suffering was not all for naught – it would be redeemed. The temporary pleasure of being popular could never compare to an eternity of reward in His majestic presence.
Contrast this picture with the wicked one who is popular, wealthy and seemingly does not know suffering in this world. What will this temporary popularity give him? Eternal suffering. It seems popularity is not all it is cracked up to be. It does not hold, however, that all righteous people will be unpopular and poor. If God wants to grant favor or increase our position for His glory, ultimately any fame we would have on this earth is His alone.
We all will have troubles in this world – Jesus promised that. Times of enjoying popularity and of scorn. He chose unpopularity to save our souls. Wow, what a reward. For today’s generation, popularity is held by the number of likes they get when they post a picture or a statement. Scores of people are just trying to get more people to follow them – for what?Does more numbers truly equal popularity? But if we do have people engaged in our lives, listening to our message, may we not shrink back from proclaiming Christ even when it might not be well liked on our social media. It might not be popular to take a righteous stand, but we will be in good company with those servants of God who were faithful to dispense God’s truth despite being unpopular – Noah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Moses, Jesus.
Success in the world’s eyes is not the same in God’s. As we pursue to be faithful to God, we may not be liked by man. Job did ultimately see God’s favor again and the fiery trials ended. But, his greatest joy was not the end of pain, but the hope of one day casting his crowns at the feet of Jesus, overcome with joy in His presence when His Redeemer removed all of the sorrows that plagued him and turned them into gold.
Lord, help us to trust you when we feel unloved or stricken. Help us to focus on the gift we have in You rather than the sorrows or joys in the present. May we trust you when life hurts and choose to delight in You, not the gifts this world may offer.