Day 9

Job Challenges the Advice of His Friends

from the Job reading plan

Job 13:1-28, Job 14:1-22, Psalm 71:19-21, John 5:24-25

BY Guest Writer

Where does Job’s hope lie, and where does our own?

Pause for a moment to reflect back on one of your darkest times. Perhaps you tossed and turned for sleepless nights, futilely attempting to unravel the tangled web created by bad decisions. Perhaps you agonized over a bitter and angry child. Perhaps physical pain incessantly pierced and jabbed at you. Perhaps… Perhaps. No matter what our individual calamities, each one of us has been (or will someday be) there with Job, drained of strength and courage to face even the next hour. Where can we turn? Where can we place our hope? And how?

We may have to venture outside Job chapters 13 and 14 to knit together those slender strands that constitute hope, especially in the midst of the unrelenting pain that chews away at every part of our lives. At this point in his terrible journey, Job contrasted human hope (quite unfavorably) to a chopped down tree. Even though the tree had been destroyed, it sprouted again when watered—not so, with those who sleep in death (14:7–12). With great courage, Job had previously declared that he was prepared to defend himself before God, knowing full well that no godless person could stand in His presence (13:15–16). But like most of our courageous statements, Job’s expectations faded almost as quickly as he spoke them. He was back in the gloom of his torment and suffering. For Job, the steady and irreversible disintegration of mountains and rock in the natural world were a fitting metaphor for the erosion of his hope (14:18–19).

Of course, that is not the end of Job’s story—or ours. We affirm with saints through the ages that our faithful God does restore our lives and comfort us in our pain (Psalm 71:20–21). We believe we will be carried through the deep waters and the ravaging fire (Isaiah 43:1–2). We hold fast to the hope that Jesus is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25–26). And we believe God has the power to do all He’s promised to do (Romans 4:20–24). This means that if we are in Christ Jesus, we have crossed over from death to life—even now! (John 5:24–25). Did you catch that? It’s a truth worth repeating, this time with the apostle Paul’s words, who tells us that right now, this very moment, we are seated in the heavenly realms with Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).

How do we respond? I confess I’m tempted to be a bit skeptical from time to time. You too? Thankfully, there is another path on which to set out at this point. Even from the crucible of our suffering and discouragement, we can take up the mantle of the psalmist. We have the privilege of declaring God’s goodness, of proclaiming the richness of God’s immeasurable and precious grace, and of being increasingly thankful (Psalm 71:14–18). Gratitude trumps grumpiness—every time, in all circumstances. The Apostle Paul affirmed that as well, saying, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Elaine A. Phillips received a BA in social psychology from Cornell University, an MDiv from Biblical Theological Seminary, and an MA in Hebrew from the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem, where she and her husband, Perry, studied and taught from 1976–79. She holds a PhD in rabbinic literature, and teaches Biblical Studies at Gordon College. She also serves as a historical geography field instructor for Jerusalem University College. She has published a commentary on Esther in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary; a devotional book, With God, Nothing Is Impossible; and, most recently, An Introduction to Reading Biblical Wisdom Texts.

Post Comments (59)

59 thoughts on "Job Challenges the Advice of His Friends"

  1. Beth Hinson says:

    Anxiety is a dark, nasty invader who has been tormenting me for years now. It’s counterpart depression has been slowly seeping into my life recently as well. I know in my head, I have so much around me that represents the fullness of God’s grace and his mercy on me. But, it can still be hard to get out of bed or to snap out of a funk. I pray Lord that you help me to see your hand in every step I take today, that my gratitude abounds the evilness Satan is trying to force upon me. Thank you for your sweet mercies and for always comforting me in the dark places!

    1. Lydia Squires says:

      May you know God is with you every step. He loves you so so much and holds you in his hands. He will never let you go.

  2. Amanda MarieO'Malley says:

    I love the quote “Gratitude trumps grumpiness — every time, in all circumstances”
    Because it is so true you can’t be in a bad place with a thankful heart

    1. Amy Hockenberry says:

      I loved this too! “In alllllll circumstances”

  3. Carrie Hammer says:

    I often need to remind myself of the line by Crowder “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal.”. It’s just a truth that hits me in the face when I just can’t go forth.

  4. Lehua says:

    Thank you all so much. Things are better now with my husband but the devil has been really working to discourage me in other ways. I have been reading Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyers to help me lean on God to get through my wilderness mentalities.

  5. Alexa Mahajan says:

    On a recent episode of Annie F. Downs’ podcast “That Sounds Fun,” author and speaker Lysa TerKeurst talked gave three practical things to repeat to yourself when you are feeling hopeless and need a fresh reminder of God’s goodness.

    1. God is good. (Even when your circumstances are not.)
    2. God is good to me. (And if He doesn’t feel like it right now, remind yourself of the last time you experienced his goodness/faithfulness.)
    3. God is good at being God (You job is just to be obedient to him today.)

    They’re simple but so important to remind ourselves of.

    If you want to listen to the whole episode it’s definitely worth a listen! It’s episode #126.

  6. Cassandra Stone says:

    Saying a prayer now.

  7. Tanya Lister says:

    ❤️ peace of Jesus fall on you and may He fill you with love for your spouse to get through this hard time.

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