Answers won’t be the most important thing.
My regular Scripture reading has brought me to the book of Job. I have mixed feelings every time I prepare for another round through those forty-two chapters. The beginning is always dramatic, and the end is always awesome. But the middle? Well, slogging through all those complaints and speeches is a bit like dental surgery.
But that’s precisely because I know the beginning and the end.
If you’re Job, you’re not aware of what set the tragic chain of events in motion to begin with. You didn’t hear the dialogue between God and Satan, or understand what was at stake. If you’re Job, you couldn’t imagine the glorious end, where God appears, sets everything right, and blesses and restores. If you’re Job, all you have is the middle, and, no, you don’t find it boring. You find it excruciating. It’s like standing on the edge of a cliff every single day. Heaven doesn’t respond. Friends make it worse.
Without the benefit of knowing how it started and seeing how it ends, this is the painful middle, the heart of the book, the place where the human frame begins to creak under the pressure.
That’s when Job says, “Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze?” (Job 6:12).
At those times, a man or woman is more willing than ever to be corrected. Maybe in the past you were too proud to listen. But now it’s another story.
“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray” (6:24).
You’re opening areas of your heart you never knew were closed. And the journey has hardly gotten underway.
And faith? However you’ve defined it for years, it isn’t standing up under serious pressure now.
“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle
and come to their end without hope” (7:6).
That’s only because something better is on the way–in a superior, more durable form. Real faith might be disappointed for a season, but it could never be ultimately defeated, “For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Rom. 10:11). Faith in Christ tells you how things will turn out, even if it is only a whispered guarantee that at long last, you will see that what you went through was worth it.
Poor Job found himself in the middle of an emotional maelstrom without the benefit of a Bible to read. But sometimes when you have the beginning and the end in writing, it’s still not enough. Even answers don’t help.
That’s because our cry is for God Himself. And though Scripture tells us about eternal plans in the past, and eternal glories in the future, the mere knowledge of it is no substitute for a relational knowledge of the Author. Our irrepressible hunger for God must make us sound like crying infants in His ears.
But just as with Job, it’s a cry He never fails to heed. The Spirit quietly, diligently, went to work preparing the man for those moments to come when his life would become something worth writing about, and remembering forever.
“I’d rather walk in the dark with God
Than go alone in the light;
I’d rather walk by faith with Him
Than go alone by sight.”
Mary G. Brainard (1837-1905)