At this point in the book of Job, it’s obvious that God isn’t going to fix anything quickly. We’d settle for a trade-off here, at least some kind of explanation for the chaos that has struck Job’s life. But apparently it isn’t the time for answers. Instead, Job gets a visit from three friends. A dialogue launches between the four men that goes on to comprise the bulk of the book of Job–almost 30 chapters of going back and forth. The down side is that these friends are clueless about what God is doing in Job’s life. Although in 2:11-13 we find them at their best, hoping to sympathize with him and comfort him, their patient vigil quickly gives way to frustration. They’re sure that Job is some kind of closet sinner whom God has seen fit to punish. They start triple-teaming Job with verbal assaults based on their faulty assumptions and logic.
What Good Could Come From This?
The significance of these droning, lecture-like chapters should not be missed. That is, most of the spiritual maturation process occurs in the matrix of friends, and for the most part, friends who understand very little about what we are going through.
We question the wisdom of this reality, especially after considering some of our own experiences. It is hard to imagine anything more potentially destructive than the character assassination going on here. How could anything positive grow in the midst of it? Yet Job, in his frustration, begins to drill down corkscrew style, into some of the greatest, most meaningful questions that a person could ever ask. These are golden concerns that come from the heart and not from mere theological speculation. In a fit of pain and anger Job cries out, “What is man?” (7:17) and “How can a man be right before God?” (9:2). It is real seeking driven by anguish and aggravation. Quite unintentionally, his friends are provoking him forward with their empty religious platitudes, stirring the entire matter. From the midst of the miserable exchange, like a seedling from a pile of manure, Job’s hunger for God germinates. He confidently proclaims, probably between tears, “I know that my redeemer lives” (19:25). It is an Old Testament cry for Christ and going along with it, a further one: “I shall see God” (19:26-27).
Time for a Standing Ovation
It is difficult to get a man to the momentous point where his confessed hunger for God springs from a source other than external religious influences. Job isn’t wishing for the return of his riches or the recovery of his health, or even to see his deceased children in heaven. All of those wishes have been eclipsed by a desire for a first person connection to the Lord Himself. This is a fine place for a standing ovation. It has taken tragedies wrought by the devil, excruciating pain, and three failed friends, but Divine work has moved the man closer to a genuine relationship with God than he has ever been before.