Today: [Job Thirty] When Friends Forsake Us: What Then? In this chapter Job mourns the loss of friendship and the honor that he once held in his social circle. As horrible as his suffering is it becomes exponentially worse because of the stress brought on by broken relationships and lost credibility. Job was overly influenced in his life by what people thought of him and it only made matters worse. In this chapter we learn from the negative aspects of Job’s example – to keep our eyes on God and not be distracted by the opinions of men.
[Job 30:1-31 KJV] 1 But now [they that are] younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock. 2 Yea, whereto [might] the strength of their hands [profit] me, in whom old age was perished? 3 For want and famine [they were] solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste. 4 Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots [for] their meat. 5 They were driven forth from among [men], (they cried after them as [after] a thief;) 6 To dwell in the clifts of the valleys, [in] caves of the earth, and [in] the rocks. 7 Among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were gathered together. 8 [They were] children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth. 9 And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword. 10 They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face.
In this chapter Job lapses into an exasperated preponderance of the irony of his situation. Young men that he would not even in times past allowed to tend his sheep dogs are rising up to scorn him. This is particularly painful to Job because he is deeply invested and influenced by what others think of him. Many times man’s idea of integrity and testimony is wrapped up not in their actual character before God but by their perceived appearance before man. This can be difficult to ferret out not only in others but also in ourselves.
I remember a day years ago when our ministry was just beginning. There was a group of ministers in the city of Springfield, Missouri who loudly protested the idea that God would use Kitty and I in ministry and they let it be known that without their endorsement and unless we submitted to them we would come to nothing. They sent a couple to us as a surrogate to confront us with the demand that we yield to what they felt was God’s will that we cease and desist all efforts to move in ministry and respond to their accusations. This couple met us in a restaurant under the guise of a social occasion and just sharing a meal with us. Very shortly the real reason for the visit became clear. They grilled us for hours as the waitress kept coming back and filling our glasses long after the meal was done. They insisted that if we did not have the acknowledged credibility of these particular ministers that we would not ever do anything in the kingdom of God.
This brought up a very interesting question. In religious circles if you are going to have a ministry there is an “old boy network” that many ministers rely to get invitations to speak and to expand their reputation and availability. If you are not in that “in” crowd then you don’t get the opportunity to do many engagements on your ministry calendar. This is the old “one hand washes the other” dynamic that for many is how ministry – particularly traveling, pulpit to pulpit ministry gets done. A minister who depends on the good graces of local pastors ignores this backroom credibility network to his own peril.
When Kitty and I were told we would never amount to anything in the kingdom if we didn’t play along with those “that seemed to be such” as Paul said in one passage when he dealt with this – my reply was simple: “If we are doomed to fail in ministry unless we bow to those who think their opinions and judgments are God’s will for us – then I can only conclude that God doesn’t want us in ministry”. I had no intention of yielding to these illegitimate, religious authorities. Not because I thought I had a better idea but rather I knew that what God had called us to do (which was so repugnant to these ministers) was not optional to us. That was the end of that – and it is interesting that over the next many months several of our key critics who felt they held such influence in the city and authority over us spiritually were excluded from the area, moved on and have never regained a following in the area.
What is the point of this? Job is deeply offended by the loss of honor among men. He is angered that his peers are criticizing him and completely incensed that those he would not have previously given the time of day are now mocking him and using him as a by-word. Job had a strong emotional connection in his soul to the opinions of men. This is an indicator of one of his chief vulnerabilities. That which you are emotionally resonate with – becomes a ruling influence in your life. Job was preoccupied with the opinions of men and this reflected the fact that he felt his righteousness originated in his own moral excellence which could be demonstrated as an example of just what a great person he was (which in his view then obligated God to bless and honor him). Because now Job is suffering – publicly so he then concludes that God has forsaken him.
11 Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have also let loose the bridle before me. 12 Upon [my] right [hand] rise the youth; they push away my feet, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction. 13 They mar my path, they set forward my calamity, they have no helper. 14 They came [upon me] as a wide breaking in [of waters]: in the desolation they rolled themselves [upon me]. 15 Terrors are turned upon me: they pursue my soul as the wind: and my welfare passeth away as a cloud. 16 And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me. 17 My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest. 18 By the great force [of my disease] is my garment changed: it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat. 19 He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes.
Job’s mental and emotional torment was further affecting his health as his stress level reached new heights of torment and dismay. For all of the assault of the enemy against Job it was compounded by the increased anger, frustration and despair rooted in his own ego and loss of face before his friends and those in the social circle he was a part of. In all of this Job held God responsible for it all. He claims that God is the source of his affliction and that God had “loosed the cord” of his life and cast him adrift on the pangs of death and loss. God in his view had cast him into the mire of suffering and discarded him in the dust to be swept out of the house and forgotten.
Is this true? We know that in fact God had not forgotten Job. We know that Job’s suffering did not originate in God but rather from Satan who found occasion to assault Job because of his great fear mentioned in Job 3:35. Job’s suffering and loss was horrific enough but it became monumentally worse because Job chose to wrangle and argue with his friends and protest the loss of his own honor that was actually based in self righteousness. Suffering and torment in a person’s life is always difficult but it becomes compounded when ego and pride will not yield even under the rigors of a trial of the magnitude of what Job dealt with. We should remember this when we are in difficult circumstances and also remember the same when we are dealing with friends and loved once who likewise struggle. There is an ego involved that may need to be brought to the foot of the cross in order that the suffering doesn’t become exponentially worse because of focusing on concerns that only arise from sinful pride and not a heart of humility and petition before God.
20 I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me [not]. 21 Thou art become cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me. 22 Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride [upon it], and dissolvest my substance. 23 For I know [that] thou wilt bring me [to] death, and [to] the house appointed for all living. 24 Howbeit he will not stretch out [his] hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction. 25 Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was [not] my soul grieved for the poor? 26 When I looked for good, then evil came [unto me]: and when I waited for light, there came darkness. 27 My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me. 28 I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, [and] I cried in the congregation. 29 I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. 30 My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat. 31 My harp also is [turned] to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep.
Job complains that God is not hearing his prayers. He stands up in honor to God but feels that God is not deferring to him in spit of his so-called humility. He claims that God has cast him to the wind and dissolved his life into nothing. All of this still and Job does not know who his real enemy is. In all these chapters of Job and his friend’s verbosity – Satan is scarcely and only marginally alluded to. In all their deliberations they all squarely place God as the originator of Job’s plight. Is God plaguing Job. No. Is God ignoring Job? No. There are times that we cry out to God but because our complaint is so full of self righteousness and human indignation the Father mercifully remains silent until we quiet ourselves, exhausted from voicing our frustration and then if we are listening He will make His voice known to us.
What can we learn from this? Obviously there is a reason God includes this book and this narrative concerning Job in the bible for our benefit (unless you believe that it’s inclusion is just some random happenstance). We should look at Job and conclude within ourselves that if or when the time comes that we are under assault and going through some fiery trial that we will quiet ourselves and wait upon God. When we are surrounded by the so-called friends who quickly become Job’s strongest critics that we will NOT ANSWER OUR CRITICS. We must realize that what Job was going through did not change his friend’s hearts – it exposed his friend’s hearts. Sometimes we think men’s hearts are changed toward us and we long for the harmony that once we thought we enjoyed – but in fact NOTHING HAS CHANGED you have just come to realize as Job where you stood all along with those you thought you could depend on. Make this your determination – that you will not waste your energies trusting in man. Rather in the midst of trial go low and find a posture of humility before God and wait for His voice to speak and lead you to a place of deliverance.
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