Daily D – Job 29:21-25
21 “People listened to me expectantly,
waiting in silence for my counsel.
22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more;
my words fell gently on their ears.
23 They waited for me as for showers
and drank in my words as the spring rain.
24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;
the light of my face was precious to them.
25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief;
I dwelt as a king among his troops;
I was like one who comforts mourners.
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Job 29:21–25.
The temptation in reading Job 29-31 is to hear the melancholy lyrics and tune of Yesterday When I Was Young playing in the background. Job revisits the good ol’ days, for sure. What is it, however, that he missed?
We can focus on the privileges, the perquisites, the attention and esteem of others, or we can focus on what was most dear to Job himself. This requires us to listen with more focused attention.
Peruse 29:2-6. What do you notice? Take a look at verses 7-17 in this light. What do you see? What was Job’s reasonable expectation in verses 18-20? Read verses 21-25 in context.
Again, what do you notice?
Job missed intimate fellowship with God. He knew at a deep soul level God’s heart and mind. In verses 2 and 3 he calls to memory God’s watchcare over his life. In verse 4, we find the keystone, the linchpin, the crux of the matter.
“Oh, for the days when I was in my prime,
When God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, . . .”
There it is. What Job longed for, what he missed most, was intimate friendship with God. Job understood how blessed he had been and how unselfishly, how loosely, he was to hold all of the good things God placed in his hands. He, like Abraham, and like you and me, was blessed to bless others.
Some years ago, a pastor endured a truly difficult season of life. He felt like he was living Job’s worst nightmare. He gave up on God. He walked away from his position. He declared himself an atheist. Time passed as he leaned into his new worldview and lifestyle. Someone asked him one day what he missed about his former life.
“I miss Jesus,” he said.
There is a sense, I suppose, when each of us feels so close to God we cannot possibly imagine ever not believing. Then there are those seasons when he seems so impossibly remote, so completely removed, we wonder if he exists at all.
We have all heard one of the favorite quotes of preacherdom which declares, “If you don’t feel as close to God as you used to, guess who moved?” It is early as I type this text, so let me translate. “God did not move; you did.”
Isn’t that what Job’s friends said?
C. S. Lewis wrote with beautiful intensity about how God at times withdraws to test our faith. The test, he says, is not for God’s benefit, but for ours. He knows how well connected, how deeply related, we are to him. He wants us to know. He wants us to accurately assess how close is the connection, and, please forgive me dear Bee Gees, how deep is our love.
God does not withdraw permanently. He returns at times in such overwhelming goodness we can only describe it as waves of grace. In a bed and breakfast in Guthrie, Oklahoma, those waves flooded my soul. What an unexpected experience! What a more unlikely place!
Which season of Job’s life are you living now? How real and loving is your relationship with our Father in heaven? Do you miss Jesus?
I will miss God in full assurance of overwhelming grace to come.
Our Father, of all the truth in this world, this is truer than true: You are realer than real, and I belong to you. I agree with Paul in Romans 8. Nothing can separate me from your love. Rescue me when I attempt to wander away. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”